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Oscar Wilde spent childhood holidays in Mayo

Something not talked about - Wilde’s childhood in Mayo

Edwin McGreal

A new book on the remarkable Wilde family details the family connections with Mayo - including Oscar Wilde’s childhood in Mayo.?Much is known about Wilde as a man but his childhood is an aspect altogether less explored. Much of it was spent at Moytura House, near Cross, overlooking Lough Corrib. The house was built by Wilde’s father - Sir William Wilde.
The Wilde family are the subject of a new book by Galway author Gerard Hanberry, entitled More Lives Than One – The Remarkable Wilde Family Through The Generations.
Sir William Wilde’s mother was Emily or Amelia Fynn, whose family held a large estate at Ballymagibbon, near Cong. Sir William himself was 
drawn back to that part of the county and Oscar and his siblings spent many holidays there fishing and boating on the lake. It was also where Oscar was first exposed to Gaelic culture and language.
“The story of the Wildes through the generations is one of phenomenal 
achievements and heartbreaking misfortunes, and I wanted to bring the 
whole story to life,” said Gerard Hanberry. “Oscar didn’t just spring from nothing – his parents were talented, extraordinary people. Sir William, an eminent eye and ear surgeon in Dublin, was an author, antiquarian and statistician, whose personal life attracted much innuendo. Lady Jane was a fiery poet whose thumping verses fuelled a revolution. Oscar’s wife Constance Wilde had to change her name and live in exile until her death. I wanted to trace the whole family, not just famous Oscar.”
This family saga is set against a background of rebellion and famine and new revelations on Oscar’s time in prison, his father’s cover up of his illegitimate daughters’ deaths, and Oscar's mother’s dire poverty in the years before her death, bring a fresh interest to the book..
The title of the book comes from Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol: ‘For he who lives more lives than one/More deaths than one must die’.
More Lives Than One – The Remarkable Wilde Family Through The 
Generations is published by The Collins Press, price €24.99. It is available in all good bookshops and online from www.collinspress.ie