NUI Galway and Leitrim County Council will host the seventh International Seminar on John McGahern, commemorating the work of the renowned Irish writer, from Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th May in Co. Leitrim. Last year’s Seminar attracted more than 140 participants from Ireland and overseas.
The literary, historical and hinterland aspects of McGahern’s work will be the focus this year, and the keynote lecture will be given by Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford and author of numerous crucial books and essays on Irish history and writing.
Commenting on the opening event, Dr John Kenny, Academic Director of the Seminar, remarked that “Professor Foster’s talk on ‘McGahern and the Memory of the Irish Revolution’ promises to be one of the vital occasions in the seven years of this McGahern Seminar.”
The Seminar includes a rich variety of lectures, open discussions, readings and tours. The Dutch novelist and IMPAC winner, Gerbrand Bakker, will talk about the influence of rural settings on fiction and will discuss and read from his own work. Patrick McCabe, one of the key Irish fiction writers of the post-McGahern generation, will give a public interview and reading, and Claire Kilroy, one of the most noted Irish novelists of the subsequent generation, will discuss the influence of McGahern and read and discuss her own work. Other speakers at the event will include Professor Nicholas Allen of the University of Athens, Georgia, who will give a lecture on ‘McGahern and the Republic’, and Dr Heather Laird of University College Cork, who will discuss McGahern’s views on his Irish literary heritage.
This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of David Thomson, an author much admired by McGahern, and to mark the occasion Professor Angela Bourke of University College Dublin will give a feature lecture on Thomson’s major work, Woodbrook, his 1974 memoir about his experiences as a tutor at Woodbrook House near Carrick-on-Shannon, close to where McGahern grew up. Author Brian Leyden will present readings from Thomson during the Seminar boat trip to McGahern’s own Cootehall.
In keeping with the theme of memoir, author and Irish Times columnist, Michael Harding, will give a talk at McGahern’s beloved Aughawillan on ‘Experience, Memory and Fiction’, and the Abbot of Glenstal, Mark Patrick Hederman, will conclude the weekend with a talk entitled ‘McGahern and the Weather of the Times’. The Seminar will also have an Archives feature with a presentation on the materials held at the James Hardiman Library of NUI Galway in the John McGahern Papers. NUI Galway has provided five Scholarships to assist students to attend the Seminar and visit the Archive.
Announcing the McGahern events, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Through the International John McGahern Seminar, we at NUI Galway are working to broaden access to literary scholarship and to share the riches of the McGahern archive with the widest possible audience. In holding this valuable archive in the West of Ireland, we feel that the University is holding in trust a treasure for the literary world, for the Irish nation and most especially for this region, which we have served for more than 160 years. I wish the 2013 International McGahern Seminar every success and I welcome the continued partnership of Leitrim County Council in this culturally important endeavour.”
Speaking at the launch of the 2013 programme, Jackie Maguire, Manager, Leitrim County Council, said: “Leitrim County Council views the Seminar as an important part of the county’s and indeed Ireland’s literary calendar which presents an excellent opportunity for both academic and general readers to engage richly with the work of John McGahern and we are delighted to continue to work in partnership with NUI Galway in organising this seventh International Seminar.”
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, culture society and history.
A limited number of places are still available for the full Seminar, however the keynote lecture in the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon on Thursday 23rd at 7pm is open to all.