Young, Ella

Ella Young

1867 - 1956

Ella Young (1867-1956) was born in Fenagh, County Antrim, in Ireland, one of several daughters in the Protestant Young family. As a student at the Royal University, she studied economy, history and law, and developed an interest in Irish mythology and folklore. This interest in all things Irish rather naturally led her to support the Republican cause, and shortly after she began writing for Sinn Féin, she also began gun-running for the Irish Republican Army. During the Rising (in her own words, "a thing that counted greatly in my life"[1]), she was blacklisted and fled to Connemara. She returned to Dublin in 1919, remaining there until leaving to lecture in the United States in 1925.

After touring the US as a lecturer for six years, she was granted citizenship and settled in California to teach at the University of California at Berkeley and continue her folklore studies, shifting her focus to Mexican and Native American legends. Retiring only when she no longer had the energy to teach, she lived out the rest of her life gardening, writing, and attending to the whims of her cats.

According to both friends and casual observers, the air of otherworldliness present in Young's writing also spilled over into her everyday persona, causing her friend and fellow writer Padraic Colum to refer to has as "a reincarnated Druidess."[2] Eve Riehle noted that "no words could describe her,"[3] but this circumstance does not seem to have stopped her biographers from trying. They depict her as wise and whimsical, dignified and merry, fierce and gentle, all in the same moment. A reclusive and unconventional person, she nevertheless had a charismatic and authoritative

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