Kate O´Brien ( Limerick 1897 - Canterbury 1974), destacada escritora irlandesa, autora de novelas, obras de teatro, libros de viajes y artículos de prensa, visitó Valladolid en 1971 para participar en una jornadas organizadas por el departamento de Filología Inglesa de la Universidad de Valladolid y a su vuelta escribió el artículo "Bells" en su columna "Long distance" del diario The Irish Times de Dublín,
Expresa su gozo por poder visitar de nuevo las tierras de Castilla, las ciudades Madrid, Salamanca y Valladolid así como encontrarse con viejos amigos. El contenido del artículo de Kate O´Brien, escrito en 1972, coincide en parte con el momento actual de España y otros paises en 2020 debido a los graves efectos de la COVID-19 y los problemas del mundo actual. Kate O´Brien quedó muy agradecida por las atenciones recibidas durante su estancia en la ciudad de Valladolid asi como gratamente impresionada por el nivel académico del departamento de Filología Inglesa.
La ciudad de Ávila y el pueblo de Gotarrendura (Ávila), con menos de 100 habitantes, hace unos años, dieron el nombre de Kate O´Brien a una de sus calles como prueba permanente de agradecimiento a Kate O´Brien por su interés en la ciudad ded Ávila así como por su admiración por Santa Teresa de Jesús o Teresa de Ávila.
Castilla siempre debería estar agradecida a Kate O´Brien
Kate O'Brien in Valladolid, 1971
Long distance Bells?
WHEN YOU, my long-lost long distancers-or I should say, if any of you read me during next week, we shall then all have taken ourselves over this awful artificial passover that awaits us, as I write, on Friday night, New Year's Eve. Indeed, I cannot imagine that any intelligent adult will be other than glad to show the back door to 1971 while the bells ring at midnight on Friday. Why ring any bells? The human race has been put through a most appalling year. Surely there have been few worse, or as bad, in human record?
Millions of innocent people have been involved in incomprehensible, senseless wars during this ignoble, dying year; millions have suffered floods and famines, and homelessness anf forced migration, and starvation-while statesmen (so-called) mouth their fatuous platitudes, the 'media,' as we have learnt to call our general resources of news, do not spare us the wide-world truths of misery which underlie and mock t their complacent eloquence.
Ah well! Let us try to forget, momentarily, Asia, and Africa, and even England, here where I live and see close-up a society in which every possible exageration is allowed - from wildest indulgence and extravagance to the very depths of lost and roofless desolation - for this is indeed proving itself to be a most unbalance welfare state - let us forget all these presentations of the human condition - and just look homeward.
And there what hope or light can we find? Ireland is deep back in tragedy - the whole of Ireland. For what concerns one of the Four Green Fields involves them all, as we all know. Our deep-laid tragic history is always with us, and is a part of our maddening character, we know. But we also know that the terrible decision of partition of Ireland was not ours, but an imposition from outside, from thr retreating conqueror. That same conqueror is perplexed now. But he is outside Ireland, playing benevolent. It is not he that is concerned here now. It is all of Ireland that has to work through this tragedy - arising from Britain's mistake of fifty years ago. Ah well, ring out the old, ring in the new.
I WAS IN SPAIN during most of December. I wish I could assemble with any kind of economy and precision my reactions to that unforeseen piece of happiness. But they are too many, too much relating to my long complicated love of Castile. The happy chance was in fact a bit too much for me, in my tired old age. What happened was that the Irish Council for Cultural Relations (have I got that right?) were having 'Ireland Week' in a few of the Spanish universities; and I, flattered and honoured was invited to address the English Literature Schools, within that festive week, on some aspect of Anglo-Irish writing. I accepted the suggestion, in trepidation and joy - and so I had seven days in Castille, as the guest of all you taxpayers, I suppose? An then, on the strength of my earnings, I took another seven or eight days of my own, to revisited old scenes of delight. The whole packed experience was wonderful, and so crammed with action and talk I think it all but killed me! And had it done so, that would have been a very nice death.
But I am here to tell the tale, without space to tell it in. I shall return, I imagine, in this column, to some of these so vivid memories of Madrid and the Guadarrama and the great plain of North Castile, on the long drive to Valladolid (where I gave my first lecture). In any case, I shall write somewhere, sometime, about what has been a very rich and exacting experience.
But briefly now, ignoring the delight it was to me to be back in Madrid, of all capital cities the sweetest to me - this, in the evening of my day, was the first time that I met, in groups, academic society in Spain. The professors in the English Literature Schools of Valladolid and of Madrid took gentle charge of me, and were angelically patient with my non-scholarship and my inability to speak their beautiful language.
That they were so kind to me is one thing - but that I was greatly impressed by the quality and seriousness of their scholarship, and the scope of their researches and their seminars is quite something else. They have given me much to think about - and the ease and freedom of some of them in the swim of contemporary European thought has a paradoxical breath in it that surprises, and turns me back now, as I recall my surprise, to my old guide, Santayana. He would not have expected less from some of those 'catedraticos' than what they naturaly gave to their time and to their juniors; and he would have smiled at my surprise. But what might have made him pause was to be told that the 'Catedratica' (that is the chief professor and director of the Faculty) of the English Literature School in Valladolid - a university as old and conservative as Salamanca - is a young woman, barely into her thirties, I should say - very goodlooking, and clearly brilliant at her work.
She has given me some of her academic work to study - in special, a translation into Spanish of Manley Hopkins'. The Wreck of the Deutschland,' with her commentary. I can only say that it is dazzling piece of work, lucid and profound.
By Kate O´Brien
Fuente: THE IRISH TIMES, Tuesday, January 6, 1972