Operating as a writer and sometime market gardener from his ancestral base, Maidenhall, Bennettsbridge, Hubert Butler worked as a teacher while exploring Eastern Europe and the Balkans. His essays established him as “Ireland’s Orwell”, our greatest essayist since Jonathan Swift – another noted Kilkenny man. In the first documentary on Butler’s work, Bandit Film’s Johnny Gogan traces the writer’s journey through Stalinist Russia of the early 1930s, through pre-war Vienna – where Butler worked to smuggle Jews into Ireland – to his exposure of the hidden genocide of half a million Orthodox Serbs in World War II.
An inaugural Kilkenny Gala Screening of this documentary will take place in the Set Theatre on Saturday April 16. It is a central element of the golden jubilee celebrations that weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of Rothe House being opened to the public for the first time.
Having purchased the property in the early 1960s, Kilkenny Archaeological Society renovated the 16th century townhouse and opened its doors on the 17 April 1966. ‘A group of very motivated people showed remarkable foresight and ensured the protection of this unique building’ says Grace Fegan, Executive Manager of Rothe House Trust. ‘Fifty years later we have so many people to thank and Hubert Butler is one of them.’
Using recently declassified documents, this highly visual and expansive film explores and adds creditable substance to the assertion that Butler “was fifty years ahead of his time” and “one of the great Irish writers”.
A red carpet reception will begin at 7.00 p.m. with the screening beginning at 7.30 p.m. Introduced by the film maker, the documentary will be followed by a brief discussion featuring special guests. Tickets are €25 each and are available from Rothe House. tel. 056 7722893 and Langton’s.