Ref NoA6
TitleGrattan Freyer Collection
DescriptionThis collection consists of notes and associated papers gathered by Grattan Freyer, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. They for the basis for lectures given by him at the Language Centre, the Institute for Irish Studies, the Irish Humanities Centre and on lecture tours in the United States of America and on the Continent of Eutope.
Related MaterialBIBLIOGRAPHY
Obituary of Grattan Freyer in "The Irish TImes" (22 June 1983)
Obituary of Grattan Freyer in "Cathair na Mairt", vol 4, no 1 (1984)
Prionsias O'Conluain, "Islands and Authors" (1983)
Peter Lamb's article 'A Kiln fired by Turf - Grattan Freyer and the Terrybaun Pottery' in "Irish Arts Review", vol 16 (2000)

Grattan Freyer, "Peadar O'DOnnell" (1973)
Grattan Freyer (ed.), "A Prose and Verse Anthology of Modern Irish Writing" (1979)
Bernard Harris and Grattan Freyer, "The Achievement of Sean O'Riada" (1981)
Grattan Freyer, "W.B. Yeats and the anti-democreatic tradition" (1981)
Grattan Freyer (ed.), "Bishop Stock's 'Narrative' of the Year of the French 1798 (1982)
Extent49 items
Administrative HistoryGrattan Dermot Freyer was born on 25 July 1915 in Cambridge, England, the second of three sons of Major Dermot Freyer (1883-1970), a writer, art collection and first Labour councillor for Cambridge Corporation and his New Zealand wife Lorna Doone McLean (1889-1919). The family were of Hugenot extraction and had settled in the Cleggan area of County Galway in the mid-nineteenth century. Freyer's grandfather, a graduate of QCG, became the well-known surgeon Sir Peter Freyer, pioneer of the operation now known as a prostatectomy. Freyer was educated at Bedale School. In one letter in the collection he refers to being 'savagely bullied' at school because he was Irish [see A6/9 (62)]. Happier childhood holidays on Achill Island were recalled by Freyer in a RTE radio interview in 1973, later published in "Islands and Authors" edited by Proinsias O'Conluain (1983). In 1937 his father, Dermot Freyer, bought Corrymore House, formerly the home of Captain Boycott and went to live on Achill.

In the 1930s Freyer was a student at Cambridge University where he studied Natural Sciences and English and wrote his thesis on "The Development of Irish Drama", graduating in 1936. He took a PhD at Trinity College, Dublin, writing his thesis there on 'The Fortunes of Machiavelli', which he failed to have published as a book in 1941. Following the award of his PhD in 1940, he taught at a school in Armagh for a time, where his controversial views may have caused the authorities to be somewhat slow in issuing him with a passport as he had hops of a jon in Brazil [see A6/15 (108)]. He had been associated with communism and Spanish Republicanism in his Cambridge years. The job in Brazil did not materialize and he spent the war years working in adult education in England. It was during this time that he met the famous studio potter Bernard Leach and he served an apprenticeship at Leach's pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall in 1946-7 and ran the Wenford Bridge Pottery in Cornwall during 1948.

In 1949 Freyer and his wife Madeleine, formerly Geraudeau, the faughter of a Breton doctor, whom he had married in 1939, bought a small property of about 12 acres at Terrybaun, near Ballina, County Mayo. Here they built a pottery and by mid-1950 were starting to produce ware out of clay dug locally. Some of the lecture notes are written on the back of Terrybaun Potery price lists, which name the different items and give the sale and retail prices [see A6/3 and A6/12]. An article entitled 'A Kiln fired by Turf - Grattan Freyer and the Terrybaun Pottery' by Peter Lamb, in the "Irish Arts Review" volume 16 (2000), gives an in depth account of the Pottery, its foundation and prodcution. For relaxation Freyer swam in Lough Conn and rode and bred horses.

Freyer continued to work as a journalist, farmer and potter throughout the 1950s and 1960s. However, by the late 1960s his interest in academic matters was playing a more prominent role in his life. This may have been influenced by the imminence of the quincentenary of Machiavelli's birth, which occurred in 1969, although it is evident he was giving lectures on Patrick Kavanagh in 1965 [see A6/1], on Irish novelists in 1967 [see A6/6] and discussing the meaning of 'The Catholic Novel' with Sean O'Faolain in 1966 [see A6/6 (50-56)]. The typescript of a letter [dated 10 December, 1967] records Freyer's application [to the Bursar of Trinity College, Cambridge], for funding to update his book on Machiavelli, which had not been published in 1941 [see also A6/15 (89). However, he began to give lectures on Machiavelli in the Spring of 1968 and in 1973 published a book on Peadar O'DOnnell. Other books were to follow [see bibliography]. He regularly wrote reviews for the books' page of "The Irish Times" and contributed articles to American and European periodicals. In 1975 he was one of the founders of the Irish Humanities Centre, an offshoot of the Institute of Irish Studies, in whopse summer schools Freyer was heavily involved. The Irish Humanities Centre roganized orientation courses, usually of about two weeks duration, for foreign students interested in the study of Irish literature and history, at which well-known speakers gave lectures on their particular topic. Students were often sent reading lists in advance. Some of the workings of the Irish Humanities Centre, 21 Westland Row, Dublin, may be gleaned from Freyer's folders, as a few lecture notes are written on the back of pages relating to the Irish Humanities Centre and its courses [see A6/15]. He frequently travelled abroad to give lectures at universities in the USA and in Europe, particularly in Germany. His interest in and concern for the situation developing in Northern Ireland during the 1970s is well documented in the collection. Letters to Danny Morrison (20 Apr 1980), to the editor of "The Irish TImes" (not dated) and to Hugh Logue (Mar 1980) portray some of his views and ideas regarding Northern Ireland [see A6/9 and A6/43]. He was very interested in the effect political disturbance had on the writing of literature. In the letter to Danny Morrison, editor of "An Poblacht", he wrote "primarily I am an educationalist" trying to explain the framework of the situation and the viewpoints of both sides [see A6/9 (62)].

Grattan Freyer died from cancer on 20 June 1983 in St. Joseph's Hosital, Ballina, Co. Mayo and he is buried in Addergoole cemetary. He had become a Catholic in July 1958. He wife Madeleine Freyer (1909-1999) was also busined at Addergoole. Her nephew Henri Hedou now runs Terrybaun Pottery.

A collection of academic papers relating to lectures given by Grattan Freyer to foreign students attending courses in Irish literature and history in Dublin during the late 1960s and 1970s and on lecture tours to universities on the European Continent and in America. He collection is mainly comprised of Freyer's lecture notes, newspaper cuttings and printed texts, such as booklets, programmes and psoters. Some of the folders relate to individual writers such as James Joyce, Sean O'Caseym John Millington Synge, Nicolo Machiavelli and Albert Camus. Other folders cover wider subjects, such as an introduction to Irish history as a basis for the study of Irish literature, Irish novelists after Joyce and the troubled situation in Northern Ireland.

The collection is generally in good physical condition, although there is evidence of scorching on a few pages [see A6/4 (14-22_ and A6/16 (25-34)]. It arrived at the James Hardiman Library in three bundles, containing 14 folders relating to lectures on Irish literature and history, three folders relating to non-Irish literature and 32 printed texts. The collection has been arranged into two groups, folders and printed texts (1 and 2). The group of folders has been divided into two sections (1 and 2), entitled Irish writers and Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland section has been further sub-divided into printed texts and maps (2.1 and 2.2), Each folder has been give a list number (A6/1, A6/2 etc.) and the pages are numbered within each folder in sound brackets. Each printed text has been given an individual list number.
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