“The bee inclos’d, and through the amber shewn,

 Seems buried in the juice, which was his own.

 So honour’d was a life in labor spent:

 Such might he wish to have his monument.”

~ Marcus Valerius Martialis, the first century Latin poet

From scholar Andrew Gough: “In Celtic myth, bees were regarded as beings of great wisdom and as spirit messengers between worlds.  In Gaelic, the word for bee is bech, and a swarm is saithe. The hive had many names but was most commonly referred to as a corcog. The gift of a hive of bees was the traditional way to show gratitude or loyalty to the ancient Irish Kings and Queens and as such, their realms were often known as centers of Beekeeping. It’s not surprising, with these facts in mind, that Honey was a staple of the diet of the ancient Irish. It’s believed that everyone present at a royal table was given their own dish of honey, and supposedly each bite of food was dipped in it before eating. Bees were so central to the mythology and culture of the ancient Irish that the old Druidic Laws, the Brehon Laws, were said to be protected as a tradition by the Bees themselves. The Brehon Laws contain twenty pages entitled ‘Bee-Judgment’ that spell out specific regulations regarding the care and ownership of Hives, Bees and Swarms.”

From Carrie Chapter, PTC dramaturg: The honey bee connection in OUTSIDE MULLINGAR is inspired by some peculiarly embellished Irish history-turned-folklore. In County Westmeath, where the characters in OUTSIDE MULLINGAR reside, there is the story of Adolphus Cooke, the “Kook of Cookesborough”, a 19th-century landlord and eccentric. There are several parallels – both intended and unintended by playwright John Patrick Shanley – between Cooke’s story and the characters in OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. First, Adolphus Cooke was raised by his nurse, Mary Kelly, which also just happens to be the name of Anthony Reilly’s mother in the play. Second, Cooke paid special attention to animals on his land, especially the crows; in the play, Rosemary’s father, Chris Muldoon, famously shoots the crows on his land. Much of Cooke’s eccentricities appear in Tony Reilly’s account of his wife’s unusual father, John Kelly. Like John Kelly, there are reports of Cooke talking to turkeys and putting his dog, Gusty, on trial. Cooke was also a staunch believer in reincarnation and, although he built a vault to be buried in someday, he was instead interred in the family tomb – a massive beehive mausoleum made of cement. The beehive burial is significant with relation to OUTSIDE MULLINGAR; in addition to believing he would be reincarnated into a fox or a bird, Cooke also thought he or his father would come back as a honey bee.

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Cooke Mausoleum in Reynella, Co. Westmeath

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