Helen Waddell talk at Society

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The next meeting of Banbridge Historical Society will be held in The Old Town Hall Banbridge at 7 30 p.m. on Thursday 4th. February when Father Andrew McMahon will give a talk about one of the district’s famous writers, namely Helen Waddell (1889 -1965).

Fr Andrew McMahon is a native of the townland of Ballyvarley and ministers as a priest in Lurgan, County Armagh. He has been a member of the Dromore Diocesan Historical Society since 1993 and has a strong interest in life stories and events connected with the area covered by the diocese.

He will share his interest in the scholar and medievalist Helen Waddell, focusing especially on her relationship with her two rural homesteads, Ballygowan House and Kilmacrew Housewithin that are in Banbridge district. Helen Waddell gained distinction as a medievalist translator and creative writer. She was one of the first women to graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, being awarded a first-class honours in English in 1911. She wrote a Master’s Thesis the following year.

As a woman, in an age when it was unusual for a woman to have a good education, never mind a university degree, she found it impossible to get a permanent academic post so she pursued a very successful career as an independent medieval scholar, writer and translator. ‘The Wandering Scholars’, was published and reprinted three times in 1927 and Peter Abelard, published in 1933 are among her most well known books.

Fr Andrew McMahon said: “I’m not going to talk about Helen Waddell’s literary achievements, stunning as they were, I’m going to talk about the woman herself and her local connections.”

Helen Waddell befriended authors and politicians such as Bernard Shaw, George Russell (AE) and the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin. Following her death in London in March 1965 she was buried in the old Magherally Churchyard.

Banbridge Historical Society always makes visitors very welcome. They are charged £3 for the evening’s entertainment including light refreshments.