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Vol 39  No 15
June 7, 2007


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Celebrating the Celtic connection
by Leslie Vryenhoek


Irish musician and scholar Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin will lecture and perform when the Canadian Association of Irish Studies meets at Memorial this month.

It won’t all be secrets and lies when scholars come together in St. John’s to examine Irish influences in Newfoundland, Canada, and the world this month – there will also be music, poetry and celebration.

Secrets and Lies and/or The Irish in Newfoundland is the title of this year’s Canadian Association of Irish Studies (CAIS) conference, to be held in at Memorial University from June 20-23.

“The discussions will ask questions about what the Irish connections are here – and if they are what we expect them to be,” says Dr. Danine Farquharson, a Memorial English professor and the national president of CAIS.

Topics will range from 19th century Irish nationalism in St. John’s to contemporary poetry, film, politics and social issues.

Dr. Peter Hart, the Canada Research Chair in Irish Studies at Memorial, will lead off the conference with his keynote address on Conspiracies of Memory: Recalling the Irish Revolution. The Thursday, June 21, lecture is open to the public.

Among the academic and independent scholars taking part will be world-renowned musician Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin. A recognized authority on the cultural impact of the great Irish famine and its resulting diaspora, Dr. Ó hAllmhuráin has dedicated his career to the preservation of Irish traditional music and culture, and is now the Smurfit-Stone Corporation Professor of Irish Music at the University of Missouri.

On Friday, June 22, at 9 a.m., he will deliver a public keynote address: Beyond the Cold Embrace of Queen Victoria: Secrets and Lies Concerning the History of Irish Traditional Music in Canada.

That evening, he’ll join other musicians from Ireland, Scotland, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador to perform Celtic music at Gower Street United Church, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, and will be available at the door or through Fred’s Records or O’Brien music.

There will also be a forum on The Irish Strain: Poetry of Newfoundland on Thursday. Shane O’Dea will host award-winning poets Mary Dalton, English, Patrick Warner, Library, and Carmelita McGrath.

“We try to appeal to everyone who is interested in Irish studies, and encourage people in the campus and the larger community to attend,” Dr. Farquharson said.

The conference has received funding from several sources, including the Smallwood Foundation, the Faculty of Arts, the President’s Office and the provincial organization Ireland Business Partnerships.

While this conference explores the Irish influence on Canada, Dr. Farquharson noted that there’s a two-way exchange going on. “Our students and our films and our literature are having an impact in Ireland. In another five or 10 years, I think we should have a conference there to talk about the influence of Newfoundland on Ireland.”

For more information on the CAIS conference, visit www.irishstudies.ca.

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