Sligo and Dracula… there’s a connection, isn’t there, but what is it?
That’s what the Sligo Dracula Society aim to shed light on when they hold their first conference ‘How Sligo Shaped Dracula’ this coming November. And they need the people of Sligo to get behind the event.
The author Bram Stoker’s family were from Sligo town, but that is only where the connection between Sligo and Dracula begins. His mother Charlotte Thornley Stoker (1818-1901) was 14 – living in Old Market Street – when Sligo was devastated by the 1832 cholera epidemic. Charlotte and her family were haunted by the events which saw over 1,500 people die from the disease in just 6 weeks.
The epidemic was aggravated by the polluted Garavogue river and by scientific ignorance of the causes and treatment of cholera. Charlotte later left Sligo for Dublin, she married, had children and became a writer and human rights campaigner of sorts.
Later in life, she wrote an unpublished account ‘Experiences of the Cholera in Ireland’ (1873) which put to paper the stories of Sligo’s epidemic she had been telling her own children for years. She wrote of how the town descended into chaos with doctors dying, cholera victims being buried alive and of mass burials. The minutiae of her story offers clear parallels with her son’s novel Dracula, it’s also a fascinating account of how a small town dealt with shocking events – and survived.
The ‘How Sligo Shaped Dracula’ conference aims to commemorate this horrific past while also showing the connections Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, literature’s most famous character. It will feature six expert speakers and will take place on 10th November in the Canis Major church, Clayton Hotel, Sligo. Tickets are on Eventbrite at €29.99 which includes booking fee and lunch. For more, see the website: http://www.sligobramstoker.weebly.com
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