Leitrim Co. Council, in partnership with National University of Ireland Galway, have announced that an International Seminar will be inaugurated in Co. Leitrim during 26 to 29 July, 2007, to commemorate the work and literary achievements of John McGahern.
The Seminar will provide the launching pad for a major International Summer School on one of Ireland's best known and respected modern writers, which will commence in Leitrim during summer 2008.
John McGahern, who spent his early years in South Leitrim and North Roscommon, lived most of his working life near Fenagh in Leitrim where he combined his literary commitments with an enduring love of farming and rural life. Since his death in March 2006, much has been written and remembered about his literary achievements. Most recently, he was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by his colleagues and peers at the Irish Books Awards, 2007.
Speaking at the announcement, Sinéad Guckian, Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, spoke of meeting him when Leitrim County Council commissioned a portrait of the writer in 2002: "John was a world class writer, witty and good humoured. I was fortunate to have met him and I know that he was held in the highest esteem by the members of our Council as well as by all the people of Leitrim. I am delighted with the plans to celebrate his work".
Leitrim County Manager, Jackie Maguire welcomed the project and particularly the involvement of NUI Galway; "The aim of this project is to bring people closer to the work of John McGahern. The decision of NUI Galway to commit to this partnership with Leitrim County Council enables us to continue the dialogue between the place in which John McGahern lived and the university with which he shared his life's work."
John McGahern had a long association with University College Galway, now National University of Ireland, Galway. For over thirty years he contributed to courses at the University, including, up to 2005, a major annual workshop at the University's International Summer School. He directed the National Writers' Workshop in Galway in 1979 and 1989. His extensive archive is now held at the James Hardiman Library of NUI Galway.
Speaking at the announcement of the International Seminar, the President of NUI Galway, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said "NUI Galway is very pleased to be associated with this important literary project in Co. Leitrim which recognises and honours one of Ireland's finest writers".
Contributors to the International Seminar will include eminent writers, critics and academics as well as local writers. The keynote address - John McGahern: The Novel and the Story - will be delivered by Prof. Declan Kiberd, University College Dublin. Other speakers will include Dr. James White and Dr. Eamon Maher. The seminar will be coordinated by Dr. John Kenny, Department of English, NUI Galway. As well as appealing to all lovers of McGahern's own work, the International Seminar will be of interest to literary researchers and to book clubs, to readers of contemporary fiction and modern writing, and to all national and international students of Irish literature and culture.