As part of Culture Night 2013, which takes place on Friday, 20 September, 6pm, the Archives and Special Collections Service at NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library will stage a special evening talk on the connection between The Gathering of 2013 and the original celebration of Irish culture and identity and engagement with Irish diaspora worldwide – the Tóstal events of the 1950s.
An Tóstal, first staged in 1953, was a showcase for Irishness, Irish culture and identity. Its events were steeped in spiritual, mythological and national symbolism. It was initiated as a means of attracting visitors and the Irish diaspora to Ireland during the Easter period, as well as giving a platform to Irish culture in a new fledgling Republic.
Author, Felicity Hayes-McCoy is the special guest speaker for this Culture Night event, and has been writing specifically on The Gathering and on Irish culture at home and abroad. Felicity is the daughter of Professor Gerard Anthony Hayes-McCoy, former Chair of History at NUI Galway and an advisor and script-writer for the Tóstals of the 1950's. As part of this Culture Night event, there will be a special showcase of digitised archival material from the Hayes-McCoy archive, which is held at the James Hardiman Library.
John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway comments: “We are delighted once again to take the opportunity offered by Culture Night to engage the public with our archives and in particular to host such a distinguished speaker as Felicity Hayes-McCoy. This event will be a unique opportunity to explore the tradition of Irish culture, its imagery, symbolism and connection to the world, as well as the past connection of NUI Galway to this staging of Ireland, through the Hayes-McCoy archive.”
Felicity Hayes-McCoy said: “As a writer with a lifelong interest in mythology and folklore, I am drawn to the imagery, symbolism and ritual invoked in these festivals. And because I come from a background of theatre and broadcast, I am fascinated by the differences and similarities between An Tóstal and The Gathering – not just in terms of the messages they chose to send out, but by the collaborative, and sometimes contentious, process of conceiving and conveying them.”
The event will take place in the new Arts, Humanities and Social Science Research Building, adjacent to the James Hardiman Library, with doors opening at 5.30pm. The event is free but booking is essential.