Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grand Re-opening

In honor of Flannery O'Connor's 86th birthday tomorrow, we will be re-opening the upstairs of the main house. The upstairs area, consisting of two bedrooms with a bathroom between, was used for putting up overnight guests. Among the noteworthy visitors that stayed there was Flannery's publisher, Robert Giroux. From the windows in this bedroom, visitors will be treated to some magnificent views of the farm. Though the upstairs plumbing is no longer functioning, the bathroom will also be open to the public. The room on the east side of the house, which the O'Connors used for storage, remains closed. Special thanks to our dedicated volunteer, Judy, who spent two days cleaning and scrubbing the upstairs in order to get it ready for our grand re-opening tomorrow.
- Mark

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Erin Go Bragh

Happy St. Patrick's Day from all of us here at Andalusia! To commemorate the occasion I decided to write a brief post about Flannery O'Connor's Irish ancestors. Flannery's attitude to her Irish roots is a mixed bag. On the one hand, O'Connor dropped her first name when she went off to the University of Iowa because she said Mary Flannery sounded like an Irish washerwoman. On the other hand, it was from her Irish ancestors that she was handed the Catholic faith that was so important to her. With a name like O'Connor, most people naturally assume that Flannery's Irish lineage came to her from her father's side of the family. While that is true, her maternal ancestors were Irish, too. Flannery's great-grandfather, Hugh Donnelly Treanor, emigrated from county Tipperary in 1824. He settled in Milledgeville and set up a grist mill on the Oconee River. It was in Hugh Treanor's hotel room that mass was first said in Milledgeville. After he died, his widow, Johannah Harty Treanor donated the land on which Sacred Heart Catholic Church was built in 1874. One of their daughters, Kate, married Peter J. Cline, a prosperous dry-goods store owner in Milledgeville who was also Irish. When she died, Cline married her sister, Margaret Ida, and it was from this union that sixteen children were born, including Flannery's mother, Regina. Regina Cline married Edward O'Connor of Savannah in 1922. Like his wife, he had Irish roots. His grandfather emigrated from Ireland in 1851 and established a livery stable on Broughton St. in Savannah. Yet, it is from neither the Cline nor the O'Connor families that Flannery received her name. She was named for her cousin Katie Semmes' mother, Mary Ellen Flannery, the wife of decorated Confederate army officer, John Flannery. The Flannerys were (you guessed it)....Irish! For more genealogical information on the O'Connor family please consult Brad Gooch's fine biography, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor.
- Mark

Friday, March 11, 2011

How March Marched In

The picture at the right illustrates how the month of March began here in middle Georgia. Despite a high wind advisory yesterday, we had 38 visitors who braved the gusts and brisk temperatures. The windy weather prevailed through the night, too, and at one point knocked out power to the main house. We're up and running now and the day is bright and clear. It's also expected to warm up through the afternoon which should make our peafowl happy. We've yet to see any eggs in the aviary this spring, but I don't think it will be too much longer. More bird news...yesterday one of the females took some spinach from my hand. The male has been doing this for some time now, but yesterday I was able to coax his mate to do likewise. The other female is much more reticent. She is obviously the low bird in their pecking order and usually stands back and lets the others eat first. In preparation for the O'Connor Conference in April (13-16), one of our dedicated volunteers has been painting the chairs on the front porch and do they ever look good. We're also busy cleaning the upstairs guest bedroom and are hoping that it will be open to the public by mid April, if not sooner. Speaking of the O'Connor conference, tickets for the April 16th concert by noted blues guitarist, Dave Perkins, are now on sale at Andalusia for $15 each. The performance will take place at Georgia College. For more information on the Dave Perkins concert or to find out more about the conference, go to our website and click the news and events tab.
- Mark

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When in Cincinnati, do as you done in Pittsburgh

Last Friday while my wife, Judy, and I were in Cincinnati visiting family, we had the misfortune to be stopped at a red light in the downtown area late at night. As we were sitting at the intersection an SUV pulled up beside our car and the driver motioned for me to roll down the window. After I did so I could see that he was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers stocking hat. He asked me what was the meaning of my bumper sticker, "When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville." Judy responded to the intoxicated man that it was too complex to go into. He followed up by asking if it had anything to do with Steelers' quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who allegedly assaulted a 20 year old woman in a Milledgeville night club last March. Judy replied that this was a quote from Flannery O'Connor and was written long before Roethlisberger was born, the implication being of course that there was no relationship between my bumper sticker and the seedy incident that occurred in this town last year. Fortunately, there was no more to this exchange because the light turned green and we drove off. It's sad that the only knowledge some people have of Milledgeville is a pro football player's malfeasance at a local bar and not the great author who lived here half a century ago.
- Mark