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NUI Galway hosts 1916 conference at Columbia

March 31, 2016

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The notice for Padraic Pearse’s 1914 lecture in New York

By Ray O’Hanlon
[email protected]

With the main Ireland-based ceremonies marking 1916 in the rear view mirror, the focus is now shifting to U.S. shores and an array of commemorative events leading up to the calendar anniversary of the rising on April 24 which, this year, falls on a Sunday.

One of the first events will be at Columbia University in New York – though the host of the gathering will be the National University of Ireland Galway.

NUI Galway is hosting a conference entitled “1916: The Irish Rising at 100 Years.”

The conference, set for tomorrow, Friday April 1, is to examine and discuss the formative role of America in shaping the Easter Rising.

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According to an NUI Galway release, the conference is the only 1916 event being held outside of Ireland by an Irish university.

Stated the release: Four speakers from NUI Galway will discuss aspects of the relationship between Ireland, America, and 1916, telling the story of the Easter Rising, its context and cultural impact, and the formative role of America and New York in particular in shaping the Rising.

The Galway speakers will be joined by three academics from Columbia University, and three scholars from Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State University.

From NUI Galway, 1916 Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Conor McNamara will look at the relationship between America and the Irish.

The most significant figure in the events leading to the Rising, Thomas Clarke, immigrated to New York in 1880.

He worked closely there with Clan na Gael leader John Devoy, the journalist and editor of the New York Herald, the Irish Nation and Gaelic American.

Clarke returned to Ireland in 1907, reorganized the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was executed following the Easter Rising.

Other major figures in the run-up to the Rising and in the rebellion itself will also be covered during the conference, this according to the release.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa is but one of them.

A major leader in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he was exiled in 1871 (along with John Devoy), and spent most of the rest of his life in New York, where he edited the United Irishman newspaper.

He died in Staten Island and the return of his body to Ireland for burial in 1915 was the occasion of Patrick Pearse’s milestone funeral oration.

Pearse himself recognized the centrality of assistance from the U.S. in the independence struggle and as a means to raise funds. In New York he delivered an important Emmet memorial speech in March 1914, the release added.

Historian Dr. Mary Harris from NUI Galway will look at the role of the key leaders in the Rising, Padraic Pearse and Eoin MacNeill, who moved from cultural to political activism.

Pearse was inducted into the Irish Republican Brotherhood, initially to boost his attempts to raise funds in America for St. Enda’s School and he went on to play a significant role in planning the Easter Rising, “leaving MacNeill in the dark.”

Dr. Harris will discuss their perspectives on the Irish language, literature, and revolt, the consequences of which MacNeill lived to deal with after Pearse’s execution.

NUI Galway Historian, Dr. John Cunningham, will discuss the crucial role of Irish labor in this transformative historical moment.

James Connolly spent 1903 to 1910 in the U.S. and lessons he learned there informed the Dublin Lockout of 1913, while others drew on the British and American trade union organization to advance their cause.

Literary scholar, Dr. Adrian Paterson from NUI Galway will talk about the reaction to the Rising in the work of W.B. Yeats.

“‘Easter 1916” became his most famous poetic response but he made a series of other contributions: ballads about the sixteen men, later made into multimedia hand-printed broadsides, and an astonishing combination of east and west, a Japanese Noh play set in the West of Ireland, “The Dreaming of the Bones,” featuring a rebel who flees after his role in the Rising to the desolate places of the west coast.
For more details on the conference go to http://heymancenter.org/events/1916-the-irish-rising-at-100-years/

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