Series relates to the history of Colum Kenny’s house, 1 Herbert Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow, and two of its former residents: Cyril Cusack and Grace Watt (née Muggeridge). The series mainly consists of correspondence between Kenny, Cusack and Watt during the early 1990s in which they reminisce about living in the house, and discussion of Cusack and Watt’s personal lives.
Grace and the Muggeridge family, lived in 1 Herbert Terrace from 1918 to 1926. Grace’s father worked [?as a welder] for Barimar Limited, who opened an Irish branch with head offices at 185, Great Brunswick Street, Dublin in 1919. According to Grace, Barimar Limited acquired 1 Herbert Terrace for the family after they relocated from London [see letter from Grace to Colum Kenny dated 5 November 1990; item C2/3/3/1 (5)]. While Grace’s childhood memories of living in Ireland as detailed in the letters are very happy, it seems that the family fortunes were not similarly positive. The family had moved to Ireland during tumultuous times, with the War of Independence and Civil War taking place during the period. Her father’s workshop [?in Dublin] was burnt down at some point and Grace notes in one letter that this 'was probably the beginning of our financial troubles'. Grace says her mother sublet rooms in 1 Herbert Terrace when 'times became difficult' [see letter to Colum Kenny dated 7 March 1993; item C2/3/3/1 (12)]. It was at this point that her path crossed with Cyril Cusack.
Cyril, who would later become a famous actor, and his mother, Alice Violet Cusack (née Cole), lived with the Muggeridge family for two to three years according to Grace [see letter to Colum Kenny dated 12 August 1992; item C2/3/3/1 (10)]. Cyril became friends with the Muggeridge children, particularly George, who is mentioned in several of Cyril and Grace’s letters, and whose photograph at 1 Herbert Terrace is included in the series (see file C2/3/3/6).
Grace and her husband Jack (John) R Watt called to 1 Herbert Terrace during a visit to Ireland in 1988, and Colum Kenny and his family were living in the house at that point. Following this visit, Grace and Colum wrote letters and Christmas cards to one another for the next few years. Grace informed Colum at some point that Cyril Cusack had lived with her family for a time in the house. Colum mentioned this to Cyril when they met at a function in Dublin in 1989 and Cyril subsequently began a correspondence with Grace.
Cyril’s letters to Grace include his memories of growing up in Bray, the various characters and events of their childhoods, and his friendship with George Muggeridge. He also shares details about his present life, the various plays, television documentaries and films he is acting in, and the travel that this involves. He also discusses the realities of growing old and his feeling that he might soon have to retire from acting. He mentions in a number of letters his desire to meet up with Grace again, but this never came to pass.
Grace’s letters to Colum mainly concern her memories of living in 1 Herbert Terrace, her new correspondence with Cyril and the latest news from her and her husband’s life. After Cyril died in October 1993, Grace decided to donate her letters from Cyril to Colum. She notes in a letter dated 27 October 1993 [item C2/3/3/1 (15)]: 'I feel most strongly that you are the only person who understands my affection for Cyril.'
This series includes: Grace’s letters and photographs to Colum Kenny and his wife Catherine; Cyril’s letters to Grace; Cyril’s letters to Colum; a letter from Mary Rose Cunningham (Cyril’s wife) to Grace; a letter from Jack (John) R Watt (Grace’s husband) to Colum; copy correspondence between George Muggeridge and Sir Garfield Barwick about George’s childhood in Bray; newspaper article and research on 1 Herbert Terrace written by Colum, and newspaper cuttings relating to Cyril’s death.