Archive 2013

Dialann / Diary 2013

Nottingham Irish Studies Group is gaining a healthy public profile. In 2013, we’ve presented events at



Pan-Celtic Festival

and The History Festival of Ireland (the latter two held in Co Carlow) and at Crawley Irish Festival.
Our first event of the year had a keen audience of 26 at 
 Be With You Shortly’: A workshop on Irish Short Stories, a Nottingham Festival of Words event, 15 Feb, Nottingham Central Library.

Event facebook page here.
Thanks to Jane Brierley of Nottingham City Libraries for supporting this event.

Deirdre was invited to contribute an online

introduction to the Irish short story to Litro magazine.


We began Wed 6 March with a visit to St Mary’s School, Hyson Green, to tell the story ‘The King with Horse’s Ears’We’d suggested this story to artist Julie Turner as a focus for her costume-making with schoolchildren in preparation for Patrick’s Day parade. Our storytelling session went well. The children were a great audience. Wed 6 March, 7.30pmWe were in Birmingham Irish Centre at 7.30pm to discuss Songs, Stories and Poems of the Irish DiasporaDeirdre led this discussion for Birmingham Irish Heritage Group,  Birmingham Irish Centre. We’ve made several previous visits to Birmingham to talk about Irish literature and history, and it’s always good to be invited back. As usual, we had a lively discussion with an interesting audience.

Irish Cinema: Narrating Childhood TraumaWe hosted a talk by Professor Ruth Barton of Trinity College Dublin on Fri 8 March, at Loughborough University. Professor Barton discussed The Butcher Boy  Angela’s Ashes, and The Magdalen Sisters. We got lots of good feedback from our audience. One of the good things about this event was that Ruth offered to come and do the talk because she’d heard we have an interesting Irish Studies programme at Loughborough.  ————————————————————————————Deirdre did Irish storytelling on Tues 12 March at Philip Neri School, Mansfield. We were delighted to be invited there for a third year, in the lead up to Patrick’s Day.If you know of a school that would like a similar event, get in touch:——————————————–——————————

 Duffy’s Bar (formerly Red Tent) on Pocklington’s Walk, Leicester, Thurs 14 March

Irish myths and legends. 7.30pm.

Duffy’s Bar is a lovely traditional Irish bar run by talented musician Jackie Duffy.

Check out its facebook page here.

This is our second event at Duffy’s, and we’re pleased to have been invited to share their March celebrations.
Nottingham Irish Festival, including St Patrick’s Day

♣ Representatives from NISG were invited to present the traditional bowl of shamrock to the Mayor of Nottingham:

♣ We went Irish storytelling in schools, including St Mary’s, Hyson Green, as a collaboration with artist Julie Turner, who worked with children on costumes inspired by the story ‘The King With Horse’s Ears‘.

The children wore their costumes in the Nottingham parade on Patrick’s Day, 17 March.

♣ We did storytelling in Philip Neri School in Mansfield too.


♣ We ran two storytelling sessions as part of  Nottingham Irish Festival: both were held in City Gallery, with the backdrop of ‘Forty Shades of Green’, the annual Irish art exhibition organised by Mary and Brian Evans.

 Taster of Irish language: ‘Have a Go @ Gaeilge’ session on Sun 17 March, 3 – 4pm. We were pleased to have family groups attending. Some had enjoyed the storytelling and stayed on for Gaeilge. The children enjoyed learning Irish alongside their parents.

 History Talk: Fri 22nd March, City Gallery, 7.30 – 9pm. Free. Pat Murphy:  ‘It’s a long long way from there to here’ ~From 1916 to the Celtic Tiger – The Betrayal of an Ideal The 1916 Proclamation declared ‘the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland’.  As we approach the centenary, this talk explored the betrayal of those ideals in Celtic Tiger Ireland, in which corruption and mismanagement led to ghost estates, cowboy builders, property sharks and unpayable mortgages.

Pat Murphy is founder of Nottingham Irish Studies Group.
His MA thesis focused on the history of the Irish in Nottingham, and you can download a pdf version of it on our Home Page.

This event had a keen audience who braved unseasonable snow to hear Pat’s talk. He was, as usual, very good, and the feedback was strongly positive. 

The first of our Year of The Gathering events:
Deirdre went home to Carlow to participate in International PaCeltic Festival, on its 2nd visit to Carlow, 2 – 7 April. She told Irish tales to children at Carlow Library on Wed 3 April, and can be seen on the video here (2.10-2.24). She also told some stories at Club d’Art on Tour, and read ‘The Roads Around Rathoe’.

The second of our Gathering events:
History Festival of Ireland
The 2nd 
History Festival of Ireland was held 15 – 16 June in Duckett’s Grove, Co Carlow. As Sunday 16 June was Bloomsday, Brian and Deirdre read history-inflected extracts from James Joyce’s writings. Fiddle-player Micheál Bolton from Carlow accompanied us with traditional Irish airs.

Photo by Dr Micheal Blade. More on our facebook page.


This NISG website was included on the Blog Awards Ireland longlist of best blogs by the Irish Diaspora. Read the full longlist 
We were involved with some more events for The Gathering:
We ran Irish storytelling for children at Tullow Library on Tues 6 August, to enthusiastic groups of children and parents. We had a lively time bellowing like the Bull of Cooley, and singing about Setanta, Fionn and the Salmon of Knowledge. Don’t know any songs about them? – we made them up: ‘Fionn MacCumhaill had a fish, e-i-e-i-o…’. ‘The King has horse’s ears, The King has horse’s ears, Hey-ho-me-yaddio….

Thanks to Una Keating we got a nice mention in Carlow People newspaper.

We were back in Tullow Library on Thurs 15 Aug, running creative writing for older children, who enjoyed inventing ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ based in Tullow, thinking of daft tasks for local stars Seán O’Brien and Saoirse Ronan.
Our final event for Tullow Library was a discussion of writing about the 1913-22 period in Ireland. Local amateur historian John Murphy taught us lots about local history, and about his work for County Carlow Military Museum.

* On Sunday 25 Aug, we were invited to do storytelling at Crawley Irish Festival. Thanks to Gerry Molumby for the photos.


Our group is in demand to participate in events to commemorate the late great Seamus Heaney. The first of these was Tue 29 Oct at Loughborough University. Members of English & Drama dept and friends got together to read some poems. Clare Hutton came up with a good idea to look at Heaney’s work chronologically, with each reader making comments on one decade, and/or poetry collection. That worked well, and it was an enjoyable evening.

* Workshop on Martin McDonagh’s play
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane was performed at Curve Theatre, Leicester 18 Oct-9 Nov
, and Deirdre ran a workshop on the text of the play on Wed 6 Nov 5.30 – 6.30pm. We  discussed the context of the play, with reference to McDonagh’s style, language  and themes.
Deirdre was commissioned to write two brief articles for the theatre programme: one on the Connemara setting of the play, and one on McDonagh and his work.

Sat 9 November: a busy day. Brief visit to Stanza @ Nottingham Playhouse, who were holding a session on Seamus Heaney. Then on to Loughborough University Family Fun Day, to tell Irish stories to mature students and their families. Children made cards and coloured pictures.
Wed 13 Nov: ‘Hearing Heaney’ at Beeston Library. Gill Rockett of Beeston Library came up with the idea of holding an event to read the poetry of Heaney, and Beeston Poets and our Nottingham Irish Studies Group were happy to be involved. Douglas MacDonald came along to take pictures for The Irish World, and it was a very enjoyable afternoon.


See Home Page for details of forthcoming NISG events.

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