What we’ve been doing this year
We attended training sessions on 19 Jan in Birmingham, provided by Irish in Britain. In the morning, we got advice on applying for ESP (Emigrant Support Programme) funding, and in the afternoon had a fascinating and useful discussion on suicide awareness in the Irish community.
Room, the film of Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel, was shown at Nottingham Broadway. Deirdre O’Byrne (NISG Chair) who teaches Irish literature at Loughborough University, gave a brief introduction to the Silver Screenings at 10.15am and 1.30pm on Thurs 21 Jan 2016.
John Ford’s The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was shown on St Patrick’s Day 17 March at Broadway, and Deirdre gave a brief introduction tracing its iconic status since its release in 1952, as reflected in Irish literature, eg in Martin McDonagh’s play A Skull in Connemara, and in poetry by Maura Dooley and Bernard O’Donoghue.
We participated in the annual Irish festival, which included a colourful procession in Nottingham city centre on Thursday 17 March, Patrick’s Day. NISG provided a storyteller and an artist to work with St Teresa’s School, Aspley; the chosen theme this year was the story of Queen Maeve of Connacht and the Brown Bull of Cooley. The children made props and simple costumes to wear in the procession, based on the old tale.
In Spring 2016, we ran a short series of talks at Five Leaves Bookshop, marking the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
A) The Poets’ Rising Mon 29 Feb
Deirdre O’Byrne led a discussion of a range of writings of the last 100 years, inspired by the conflict.
B) The Road to 1916 Mon 7 March
At the beginning of the First World War there was very little support for an Irish Republic, but the Easter Rising in Yeats’ words meant that ‘all had changed, changed utterly’; a ‘terrible beauty’ had indeed been born. Historian Pat Murphy, founder of Nottingham Irish Studies Group, traced the story of this transformation,
C. Ireland & the Great War, Mon 14 March
Thousands of Irish men lost their lives fighting in the British army in the First World War. We discussed the effects of the Easter Rising on how WW1 is commemorated in Ireland.
D) Easter Rising 1916 – 2016, 21 March 2016
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic promised to pursue the prosperity and happiness of the whole nation and to cherish its children equally. Eddie Walsh, of Keep Left Irish Politics magazine, argued that progressive politics in Ireland from 1966 onwards failed to make significant lasting progress
🙂 We went on mini-tour with these talks, taking some of them to Birmingham, Leicester and Mansfield. Talk A on 1916 literature was presented to Birmingham Irish Heritage Group, on Wed 2 March 2016, and at States of Independence at De Montfort University in Leicester, on Sat 12 March, and A, B & D talks were also hosted by Mansfield and Dukeries Irish Association.
- On Wed 5 October 2016, Deirdre O’Byrne gave a talk on Irish Halloween customs, using some Irish fiction (eg Joyce’s short story ‘Clay’ from Dubliners) as a basis for the discussion. Hosted by Birmingham Irish Heritage Group, Birmingham Irish Centre, 7pm. The story of ‘Jack o’ Lantern and the Devil’ went down well.
- Friday 21 Oct, 10.15 – 10.45am, we did Irish Storytelling in Charnwood Museum, Loughborough, as part of Loogabarooga Festival.
- Sat 29 Oct 2016, 7-9pm:
More Irish Storytelling, this time at Blessed Sacrament Parish Hall, Gooding Avenue, Braunstone, Leicester LE3 1JS, 7 – 9pm.
Deirdre told some traditional Irish legends, and given the time of the year, shed some light on some spooky Halloween customs in Ireland.
We were honoured to be have taken part in an event at Nottingham Galleries of Justice to celebrate the visit of Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, on Friday 11 November. The Ambassador gave a talk on Roger Casement and 1916.
Nottingham Irish Studies Group’s contribution was a brief talk on the role of Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Foresters, who were sent over to quell the Easter Rising. In these days of political turmoil, it’s good to rethink our shared history, and consider what unites rather than divides us. Let us build bridges, not walls.
Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine: we live in each other’s shadows, as the old Irish saying goes. Let those shadows be protective ones.
- Sat 29 Oct 2016, 7-9pm: