(I said Bridget Swinton is the one person in all the artists of the Dolmen Press that I can’t find anything about.)
Leslie then said “I know her story. It’s an interesting story. She was adopted, and she was adopted by a single woman-unusual in those days not to have two parents. Her mother was from a wealthy north of England family, who had big money. I think it was from manufacturing fabric, I’m not quite sure. But anyway, she came from big money and came to Ireland and bought a big house in Tipperary. She was very keen on the home, so she bought it, and she got to be well known in the county.in Tipperary and the horsey crowd, as they were called. She has this child she’d adopted and the child was named Bridget, Bridget Swinton. And she came to the art school at the same time as I did, and as Pauline did and as Una Fountain(Watters) did. We were all good friends, and we all had very different backgrounds. Una’s family was writers and poets and part of the 1918 uprising and 1922 period in Irish history. Bridget has this mother in Tipperary, wealthy, she was worried about Bridget, worried about Bridget being respectful and everything. And I was produced, and went to stay with them, I was approved of. She did eventually get married and she had 5 children. Her connection with Ireland was extremely stretched. The fact that she had 5 children and her mother was in Tipperary made it hard to get back and see her mother. She didn’t come very often-very, very seldom. But anyway, she doesn’t have the connections in Ireland which is probably why you are not finding anything about her.”
One of the Irish poets the Dolmen Press employed was Arland Ussher. His book, The Twenty Two Cards of the Tarot was published in 1970. Leslie described her artistic work on this project:
“Liam had us, and when I say us, my cousin and I, we had to hand color the special edition of the twentieth edition of the Twenty-two Keys of the Tarot. We stayed up 2 nights and 2 days, coloring with watercolor, and each block had to have 7 colors. The reason that he particularly wanted it was because when Arland Ussher came back from Paris with the pack that he’d bought in Paris of the Keys of the Tarot, you know: the cards. I have them, he gave them to me. Let’s use the colors, so he said let’s use watercolor and we did an edition of, was it 50? Anyway, we colored them until we nearly went mad. They were in sheets-they hadn’t been cut yet, to be bound, these particular ones. Then he discovered he was running out of paper. He’d bought the paper from Holland, and he couldn’t get the paper, and he put these hand colored sets aside, and he never bound them. I had them and I brought them to Boston College to see if they’d buy them, because I thought it was a pity they were in my attic in Kilkenny, you know, they were sitting, not being seen by anybody, except someone who might be interested in the Twenty-Two Keys of the Tarot. I don’t know if you know this, but Arland Ussher’s Great Great Great Grandfather, I think, was one of the founders of Trinity College, Dublin. It’s an important family, and a very intellectual family. So anyway, Boston College said yes, they’d be interested.”
It is truly wonderful to find an individual like Leslie MacWeeney, who is so forthcoming about her involvement with one of our premier collections in Special Collections and Archives at ZSR Library. I learned so much speaking with her and hope to speak with her again.