The Irish Influence

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An exciting new initiative from Boston College Ireland

How the culture of Ireland has shaped and still shapes the story of America – that’s the tale that our new series of Zoom conversations, coming from Dublin and aimed at New England, will explore. The Irish Influence is delighted to bring the people at the heart of Irish cultural life today – actors, writers, historians, filmmakers, musicians, dancers – to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Every Friday at 4.30 pm EST, 9.30 pm Irish time, join Professors Mike Cronin and Joe Nugent as we invite the public to explore with us the past and future of the Irish influence, tionchar na nGael thar lear.

The Irish Influence is an initiative by Boston College Ireland and Irish Studies at Boston College, and kindly supported by the Consulate General of Ireland in Boston.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting each Friday

Fearghal McGarry

Professor McGarry works on modern Ireland. Earlier publications, including studies of Ireland and the Spanish Civil War, the socialist republican Frank Ryan, and the fascist Eoin O'Duffy, explored interwar Irish radicalism in a European context. More recent research has focused on the revolutionary period. He has written widely on the Easter Rising, including a recent collective biography of seven rebels associated with the Abbey Theatre. He is interested in how the past is represented, including through commemoration, historical films, and museums. He is currently writing a book assessing Irish anxieties about modernity in an interwar European context. He led two AHRC projects on film and history, and is PI of the AHRC-funded project, A Global History of Irish Revolution (2017-2020).

Mark O'Connell

Mark has a PhD in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin, and in 2013 his academic monograph on the work of the novelist John Banville, John Banville’s Narcissistic Fictions, was published by Palgrave Macmillan. He was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow from 2011 to 2012 at Trinity College, where he taught contemporary literature.  He is the author of To Be a Machine, which was awarded the 2019 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize and short-listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and The Guardian. In 2020 he published Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back.

Paul Murray

Educated at Trinity College Dublin and at the University of East Anglia, Paul lives in Dublin. His first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize. His second novel, Skippy Dies, was longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, as well as shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Book Award. His debut feature film, Metal Heart was released in 2019 and he is currently developing projects with BBC Comedy.

James O'Halloran

A Fellow of the Society Of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and Former President of the IAVI, James joined Adams Auctioneers in 1981. He is currently Managing Director of the firm, and one of the leading voices in the Irish art industry.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

Éilís has worked in the Department of Irish Folklore in UCD, and for many years as a curator in the National Library of Ireland. Also a teacher of Creative Writing, she has been Writer Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin and is currently Writer Fellow at UCD. She is a member of Aosdána, an ambassador for the Irish Writers’ Centre, and President of the Folklore of Ireland Society (An Cumann le Béaloideas Éireann). Ní Dhuibhne is the Burns Visiting Scholar at Boston College for the fall 2020 semester.

Susan Kirby

Susan has worked across the cultural sector in Ireland for the last two decades, and has been CEO of the St Patrick’s Festival for the last decade. The Festival is a week-long celebration of Ireland’s national day and encompasses the parade as well as a whole run of arts, cultural and music events. Across the week the Festival attracts over one million visitors to Dublin, but in 2021 will exist as a largely virtual event.

Joseph O'Connor

One of Ireland’s foremost writers, Joseph published Star of the Sea in 2002, which The Economist listed as one of the top books of 2003. His 2010 novel, Ghost Light is loosely based on the life of the actress Maire O'Neill, born Mary "Molly" Allgood, and her relationship with the Irish playwright John Millington Synge. It was published by Harvill Secker of London in 2010. In 2019 his book  Shadowplay was brilliantly received with the Guardian noting: ‘As much as this is a hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly – at times, agonisingly – a story of transience, loss and true loyalty.’ In 2014, he was announced as the inaugural Frank McCourt Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, where he teaches on the MA in Creative Writing. 

Bloody Sunday

On 21 November 1920, 14 people were killed by British forces in an attack on Croke Park where a game of Gaelic football was due to be played. This discussion, led by Mike Cronin, will explore what happened a century ago, how the event has been commemorated and will explore how sport and politics, most recently through Black Lives Matter, remain intertwined to this day.

  • Heather Ditcher is based at the International Centre for Sport History & Culture at DMU Leciester, and has published widely on the interconnections between sport and diplomacy, and sport and politics. Her work has particularly focused on the Olympic Games.  
  • Michael Foley is a sportswriter with the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, and focuses on the sports of the Gaelic Athletic Association. He is an award-winning author, and most recently published The Bloodied Field: Croke Park, Sunday 21 November, 1920.
  • William Murphy is a historian at Dublin City University, and has worked extensively on the republican movement, especially republican prisoners during and after the revolutionary period. He is also an historian of the Gaelic Athletic Association and was an editor, in 2009, of The Gaelic Athletic Association, 1884-2009.
  • Other speakers TBC.
Ciara Meehan

Ciara is Associate Dean of the Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire and one of the leading historians of Free State Ireland. She has published extensively on the transformation of independent Ireland. Her major works include The Cosgrave Party: a History of Cumann na nGaedheal, 1923-1933 (2010) and A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-1987 (2013). Most recently she co-authored Saving the State: Fine Gael from Collins to Varadkar (2020) with political journalist Stephen Collins.

Why all the noise about Irish Studies?

In the wake of the Good Friday Agreement and the booming economy of the Celtic Tiger years there was a sense that Ireland had normalized and joined the mainstream of neoliberal global nations. One result was an apparent downturn in scholarly interest in Ireland and Irish Studies. However, in the wake of the economic downturn and the years of austerity from 2008, the social liberalization of the Irish Republic and the ongoing assessment of the island’s history of abuse and containment, Irish Studies appears rejuvenated. Recent assessments include Marjorie Howes and Claire Connolly’s six volume Irish Literature in Transition (2020), Renee Fox, Mike Cronin and Brian O Conchubhair’s Routledge Handbook of Irish Studies (2020), Paige Reynolds The New Irish Studies (2020), and Katherine O’Donnell, Maeve O’Rourke and James Smith’s special issue of EIRE-Ireland (2020) on ‘Toward Transitional Justice in Ireland?: Addressing Legacies of Harm’. This session will bring together the editors of these recent collections to discuss how the field is being redefined and reshaped.

  • Marjorie Howes is Professor of English at Boston College. She has published widely on modernist literature and the literature of the cultural revival, particularly Yeats, including Yeats and Afterwords (with Joe Valente) and Yeats’ Nations: Gender, Class and Irishness. In 2020 she was the series editor, with Claire Connolly, of the six volume Irish Literature in Transition.
  • Renee Fox is Associate Professor of Literature at the University of California Santa Cruz. She works on the nineteenth century, particularly the idea of the gothic in Irish literature. In 2020 she was the editor, with Mike Cronin and Brian O Conchubhair, of The Routledge International Handbook of Irish Studies.
  • Paige Reynolds is Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross. She has worked extensively on Modernism and Contemporary Literature in Ireland, including her 2007 Modernism, Drama and the Audience for Irish Spectacle. In 2020 she was the editor of The New Irish Studies.
  • James Smith is Associate Professor in English and the Director of the Lowell Humanities Series at Boston College. He works on Irish literature and culture, and produced the acclaimed Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment in 2007. In 2020 he was the editor, with Katherine O’Donnell and Maeve O’Rourke of a special issue of EIRE-Ireland (2020) on ‘Toward Transitional Justice in Ireland?: Addressing Legacies of Harm’ (55, 2).