LLR Books

Elizabeth Curran Solterer


Elizabeth Curran Solterer moved to the District in 1955 and over the next few decades kept Irish culture alive in the Washington. Her mother, Helen Laird, was a founding member of the Abbey Theatre and her father was the lawyer  C.P. Curran, who wrote some of the first journalistic accounts of the Irish uprising of  1916.  William Butler Yeats,  Maud Gonne and  James Joyce, were friedns of the family and Joyce once remarked that Elizabeth was the only child he knew who had read his modernist masterpiece "Ulysses" -- and had done so by the age of 9.
"It was a village, Dublin, in those days," she her  daughter, Helen Solterer, a professor of French literature and culture at Duke University. "My grandparents held an open house and knew everyone."
Elizabeth was fluent in German, French, Italian and the Irish. She and Flann O'Brien, while students at the University College Dublin in the early 1930s, founded a literary magazine, Blather.
After receiving a bachelor's degree in history in 1935, she traveled across and ettled in Paris for a while, where she worked in an art gallery that sold works by Picasso. she came to the US for a visit and becam eacquainted with leading figures of modern art and stormed around New Orleans in a hearse owned by the sculptor Fritz Bultman.
The Irish government sent her back to the United States in the early 1950s to introduce Irish art to the American public through a series of lectures.  In 1954, while in Irelandshe met Josef Solterer, a Viennese-born economist who had taught at Georgetown since 1932. They married in 1955 and settled in Falls Church on what was then farmland. They moved to the District in 1972.  She was 42 at the time.
In Washington, Mrs. Solterer spoke of Irish accomplishments in the arts at museums and galleries, at the Irish-American Cultural Institute and in lectures arranged by the Irish Embassy. She was active in the American Association of University Women and in Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the District.