Connemara connection to Ingrid Bergman as Sweden remembers movie icon
Sweden is preparing to celebrate the centenary of their greater screen legend of all – but Connemara too has its own footnote in the story of Ingrid Bergman.
The Casablanca star – Ilsa Lund to Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine – will be remembered in her native Sweden later this month to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth.
And among those present will be author and translator, Ann Henning Jocelyn, who has lived in Connemara for the past 32 years.
She will be remembering Ingrid Bergman, not alone as an actress and a screen icon – but as a close friend.
Ingrid Bergman’s autobiography “My Life” will be re-published as part of the commemoration and an epilogue written by Ann Henning Jocelyn has been appended to the original version of the book.
The epilogue is entitled: “Ingrid Bergman – A Good Friend”.
It happened in London 35 years ago. Ingrid Bergman’s autography was being crafted by Alan Burgess; the publishers wanted a simultaneous version of the book in Swedish.
“That was how I came into the picture”, says Ann Henning Jocelyn.
A native of Gothenburg in Sweden, Ann had come to London to study drama and she was also a proficient linguist. She was asked to translate the Bergman autobiography text to Swedish and the task also involved going through the film actress’s letters, diaries and Swedish source material.
Ingrid Bergman liked the translation but decided she wanted to tell the story again. She asked Ann Henning to join with her in doing the work. It was an unforgettable and almost awe laden assignment.
Ingrid Bergman is described by one film history source as “one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood’s lamented Golden Era. Her natural and unpretentious beauty and her immense acting talent made her one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema”.
Bergman role in the 1940ies war time film “Casablanca” is legendary but it is only one of her major films: “Murder on the Orient Express” and “For Whom the Bells Toll” are others that remain etched in the popular memory.
Ann Henning-Jocelyn has fond and abiding memories of that spring and summer of 1980 in London.
“Ingrid had great charisma. She was warm and also forthright. She said what she meant and she meant what she said. I found this very comfortable as you had no difficulty in trying to work out how she felt about something,” says Ann.
Both of them were Swedish and Ann Henning-Jocelyn says this help in established a bond between them. As well as that link, Ann and her family had holidayed for four generations in Fjallbacka, a small fishing village on the west coast of Sweden.
Ingrid Bergman and her third husband, Lars Schmidt also had a home there and Ann, as a young girl, remembers Bergman coming shopping to the village. “We shared a nostalgic background in that way”, Ann explains.
During that summer of 1980 Ann Henning-Jocelyn worked with Ingrid Bergman, often outdoors on the roofed terrace of the film icon’s home in Chelsea. Sometimes it was seven days a week; it was hectic but fun filled and exciting.
“She always encouraged you and brought you into circles of people” says Ann.
Sometime ago Ann Henning- Jocelyn went back to Cheyne Gardens in Chelsea to see the Bergman homestead again.
It was spring, a cold wind blew and the skies were dark and “three dark windows looked gloomily down on me”…the scene had changed.
Ann Henning-Jocelyn writes in the republished epilogue to Bergman’s autobiography: “How different from my first visit to this Chelsea street! On that occasion the fruit-trees were in blossom, a southerly breeze played softly over the river Thames and curtains billowed around the three windows, left open to let in sunshine and warm spring air.
“I was filled with happy anticipation, for I was on my way to my first ever meeting with film star Ingrid Bergman. On my way to the start of a treasured friendship that was tragically cut short”.
Ingrid Bergman was already in the early stages of the cancer that killed her when the book was finished. Ann Henning-Jocelyn met her on occasions in the following years as the film star’s vitality and energy drained away.
It was about this time that Ann Henning-Jocelyn got married and moved to live in Doonreagan House in Cashel in Connemara and it was there on the morning of August 22 1982 that she heard the news on radio; Ingrid Bergman had died.
It was her birthday – she was 67.
Safety fears abound over Aran Island’s top attraction
There appears to be no resolution in sight to address serious safety concerns at Inis Mór’s leading tourist attraction.
Galway West Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív told the Connacht Tribune that an issue related to parking for various modes of transport continued to frustrate residents and visitors to Inis Mór – and a solution must be found.
“This issue seems to be going on forever,” said Deputy Ó Cuív of the issues at Dún Aonghasa.
“There is a real danger given the large number of people that visit the area and what’s required is improved parking spaces for buses, horse carriages and bicycles at the entrance to the Dún Aonghasa site.
“It also needs to be taken into account that we need to separate horses from buses, and to separate those from cyclists and pedestrians,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.
The lack of sufficient parking was creating gridlock and posing a risk to people travelling the route, continued Deputy Ó Cuív who has called on the Minster of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) to bring the interested parties together to hammer out a solution.
“I am calling on the Minister to convene a roundtable meeting between the island representatives, the OPW and the County Council together with the Department of Rural and Community Development to see how the matter might be addressed.
“I welcome that the present Minister visited the site last year and is aware of the issues, because everyone is very anxious that we get this sorted,” he said.
In a parliamentary question, Deputy Ó Cuív sought an assurance from the Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan, that he would “organise a roundtable of people with the local authority and the local state-funded development organisation” to address safety concerns on the island.
Responding, Minister O’Donovan said the OPW was progressing a refurbishment of the visitor centre at Dún Aonghasa, while discussions were ongoing relating to traffic management outside the centre.
“I can assure the Deputy that the Office of Public Works will continue such engagement with local stakeholders, including the local authority, and to this end, a meeting will be convened in the coming months as previously agreed,” he said.
Deputy Ó Cuív said it was unfortunate that despite repeated calls for action, the Minister’s response suggested little progress had been made.
“There is a danger here to locals and tourists alike. It is a bad advertisement for the island the way it is at the moment, particularly as this is at one of the premier tourist sites in the country,” he said.
Galway Gardaí on high alert for Presidential visit
Gardaí in Galway are on high alert for a visit to the West from the US President next month.
And while there has been no confirmation of dates yet, garda planning for a mid-April arrival is in full swing.
Cases at Derrynea District Court’s April sitting are being kept to a minimum as it is expected that gardaí will be otherwise detained, a sitting of the court heard this week.
Sergeant Damien Prendergast told Judge Mary Fahy that cases were being put out to May as it was anticipated there would be a “potential visit” from Joe Biden.
“I have been instructed to keep April free as there is a possible presidential visit,” said Sgt Prendergast.
The Connacht Tribune has learned that Galway gardaí are preparing for the visit to take place the week after Easter, with Derrynea Court due to sit on April 18.
The President’s itinerary is being kept under wraps, but a visit to his ancestral home in Co Mayo is highly likely – and the high degree of security required for such a visit is well underway.
It is understood that while there has been no indication that Galway will be on Mr Biden’s schedule, the county’s gardaí would likely be required to bolster security in the neighbouring county.
Judge Fahy, meanwhile, expressed concern about putting court cases back as a result.
“We’re then landed with a huge, big, long list then,” she said.
The US President’s visit was confirmed earlier this month. Mr Biden is expected to spend five days in the country, travelling north during the visit to mark 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
A Galway Garda spokesperson told the Tribune they were not in a position to confirm any details of their role at this point, nor could they indicate if the visit would take in any part of Galway.
“It’s very much an internal matter for the moment,” they said.
Lidl appeals planning refusal for Claregalway supermarket
A discount supermarket has revealed it will fork out more than €1 million in wages annually if it gets planning permission to provide a new store in Claregalway.
According to Lidl, the decision by Galway County Council to refuse planning earlier this year on a site in the village centre – opposite the Summerfield – was based on “inaccurate assumptions and conclusions”.
The company has now appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanála and a decision on the matter is due at the end of July.
The development of the discount supermarket in Claregalway was rejected by Council planners on the basis that it would make an already chronic traffic situation in the village even worse.
There were more than 20 submissions to the plan by Lidl to establish a discount supermarket and the vast majority of these were in opposition to the proposed development.
Claregalway is one of the most traffic-choked villages in the country and local residents did not want another retail development that would add to the problems.
Tailbacks are a daily occurrence each morning and evening in particular and it was felt by local residents that the development of another supermarket would result in daytime congestion as well.
Planning permission was sought by Lidl for a discount supermarket and ancillary off-licence. It would be a part single and part two storey development in the village centre.
It would have involved the provision of a new access off the Galway road along with the modification of the existing footpaths to create a right turning lane to access the supermarket.
Galway County Council rejected the plan and apart from traffic issues, they cited historical flooding problems on the site and surrounding lands as also a reason for the refusal.
The planners also took issue with the absence of proposals relating to surface water measures on the site. They were not satisfied that the site is not at risk of flooding in the future.
According to Lidl, the store would create around 25 new jobs, generating €1.025 million per annum in wages while €1.5 million would be spent on the construction stage of the discount store.