Renowned folklorist Henry Glassie to address Irish Studies Conference at NUI Gal

Monday, 29 May 2006

Henry Glassie, Professor of Folklore and Co-Director of Turkish Studies at Indiana University, will be among the speakers at the First Galway Conference of Irish Studies, which runs from Wednesday until Saturday, 7-10 June, at NUI, Galway. The theme of the conference is 'Orality and Modern Irish Culture', and Professor Glassie will be joined by more than sixty lecturers from Ireland, Britain, Norway, America, and South Africa, including Angela Bourke, author of The Burning of Bridget Cleary, and Gearóid Ó Crualaoich, author of The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wisewoman Healer.

Among the topics to be discussed are 'Memory and Memoir', 'Women and Oral History', 'Orality and the Sense of Place', 'Collecting Tradition', as well as aspects of orality in modern Irish literature. Papers will be presented in Irish and in English, with a simultaneous translation facility provided for material in Irish.

One of the more innovative features of the Galway conference will be the series of workshops in which Henry Glassie, Angela Bourke, and Gearóid Ó Crualaoich will provide a demonstration of their own working methods through a close reading of selected stories from the Irish oral tradition.

The conference will also feature a presentation by Méabh Ní Fhuartháin and the renowned musician Joe Burke on the musical traditions of East Galway.

Admission to individual sessions of the conference is free and everyone is welcome to attend. The full conference programme is available on the Centre for Irish Studies website at http://www.nuigalway.ie/centre_irish_studies/.

Henry Glassie's Passing the Time in Ballymenone has been described as 'one of the most remarkable pieces of literature of the twentieth century'. His groundbreaking study of the life and work of a rural community in County Fermanagh was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as 'an extraordinarily rich and rewarding book … about the effort of one man to find for himself and us the life's breath of the people of Ballymenone'. It was later included as a notable book of the year by the New York Times.

Not surprisingly, Glassie's influence on Irish scholars and writers has been considerable; his first book on Ireland, All Silver and No Brass: An Irish Christmas Mumming provided the inspiration for Vincent Woods' play At the Black Pig's Dyke. His latest book The Stars of Ballmenone revisits the community of Ballymenone at the height of the Troubles, when the people told 'their own tale at night, forgotten, while the men of power filled the newspapers and history books by sending poor boys out to be killed'.

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For further details, contact Samantha Williams at Samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie or telephone 091 492951.

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