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Autumn/Winter 2002-03 Newsletter

Canadian Association for Irish Studies
Vol. 16, No. 2 Autumn/Winter, 2002-3
Editor: Gary Owens, Huron College, University of Western Ontario E-Mail:

Looking Ahead:

CAIS Conference 21-24 May 2003,
Fredericton, NB

The program committee of CAIS 2003 (Dermot McCarthy, Jerry White, Danine Farquharson and Julia Wright) encourages as many CAIS members as possible to join them in Fredericton, N.B. on 21-24 May for this year's annual conference. New Brunswick's historic provincial capital, Fredericton is a charming university town with many historical and cultural attractions dating from Canada's colonial era.

Though prices have yet to be confirmed, members should find the costs of on-campus accommodation (circa C$31 per day/single; $23/double occupancy) and meal-plans (C$23 for 3 meals per day) very reasonable.

For those wishing to stay close but off-campus, there are excellent hotels, restaurants, charming pubs and historic B&B’s within walking or short-taxi distance of the UNB campus.

The committee hopes to continue the pattern of recent CAIS conferences by offering presentations from a variety of disciplines on a broad diversity of topics. As usual all of our sessions will be plenary sessions.

Guest speakers will include the distinguished historian of early modern Ireland, Raymond Gillespie (NUI, Maynooth); Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, (NUI, Galway}, one of Ireland’s most respected literary figures and an editor of the recent Field Day Anthology (Women's Writing: Writing and Traditions); the eminent literary wunderkind, Margaret Kelleher (NUI, Maynooth), best known for her path-breaking work on the literature of the Famine and of nineteenth-century women; Éilís Ni Dhuibhne

(Dublin), much-praised novelist, poet, and short story writer; and the not-to-be-missed-under-any-circumstances Tom Kelly of the Bogside Artists Collective (Derry).

The evening program will include a night of theatre, with a performance of Mícheál Mac Liammóir's memoir-play, I Must Be Talking to My Friends, produced and directed by Len Falkenstein of UNB, and starring actor Robbie O’Neill who is particularly well-known to East Coast audiences.

The conference organizers report that this year’s programme is shaping up to be one of the best ever. It goes without saying that the event will also be a time for meeting and schmoozing with old friends and new.

Anyone with any questions about CAIS 2003 should contact Dermot McCarthy, the Conference Chair, at or (519) 439-7369 or Department of English, Huron University College, 1349 Western Road, London, ON N6G 1H3 Canada.

Looking Back:

CAIS 2002 - "Hibernicis ipsis
Hibernior" - Rethinking Irishness

The CAIS 2002 annual conference -the first to meet outside the format of the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Canada since the association voted to return to a more community-oriented gathering-took place from May 21-24 at the remarkably pleasant and pastoral campus of the University of Toronto in Mississauga. With 27 papers presented in 9 sessions, as well as five guest speakers, however, there was scant opportunity to get lost in the woods over the three eventful days and evenings.

The lively discussion about history, truth and historical narratives following Ron Rudin’s (Concordia) presentation "Telling the Truth about ‘98" in the opening session not only established an informal theme that discussants returned to throughout the conference, but set the tone of congenial and enthusiastic exchange which characterized so many of the sessions.

As usual, the presentations covered a broad spectrum of historical, literary, political, artistic, economic, cinematic, and cultural interests, from "Witchcraft in Island Magee" (David Wilson, University of Toronto) and the "Johnville Ghost" (Thelma Ann Brennan, Johnville, N.B.) to public statues in Dublin (Yvonne Whelan, University of Ulster) and the poetry of Paul Durcan (Maurice Elliott, York University).

The eclectic program was complemented by an evening of storytelling, hosted by Norita Fleming, with Sam McAughtry, Louis de Paor and Jonathan Lynn, and at which we were honoured by an address from His Excellency, Martin Burke, the Irish Ambassador to Canada.

The second evening involved a viewing of Harry Roe’s "The Cemetery at Grosse Ile," an exhibit of photographs of the cemetery, monuments and landscape of the western end of the island that served as a quarantine station for immigrants to Canada between 1832 and 1937. The exhibit resonated particularly with those who made the trip to Grosse Ile before last year’s CAIS conference at Laval, Quebec.

Cecil Houston, Jerry White, Danine Farquharson, Shoeless Willie Jenkins and Kevin James, assisted by Sommer Dhun and Jean Talman, are to be congratulated for organizing a conference that was truly national and international in composition, with presenters from across Canada, the U.S., Ireland and the U.K.

The unusually strong contingent from overseas was led by the five distinguished guest speakers: Louis de Paor and Lionel Pilkington (NUI, Galway), Maria Luddy (University of Warwick), Donald MacRaild (University of Northumbria), and Sam McAughtry, journalist, senator and master raconteur (Belfast). CAIS is grateful for grants from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Irish Cultural Relations Committee of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, but is particularly appreciative of the continuing generous support provided by Celtic Arts of Canada and the Ireland Fund of Canada, without which it would be impossible to organize a conference of such scope and quality.

A definite highlight of CAIS ’02 was Maureen Lorimer’s meticulous organization of the Saturday evening banquet at the Erindale Faculty Club, which set a benchmark for elegance and quality that future organizing committee’s will be hard-pressed to match. The superlative food, sterling service and stylish setting encouraged one of the most congenial conference finales in recent memory. Cecil Houston, outgoing CAIS President, presented tokens of sincere appreciation to Jim Brady, Evelyn O'Leary, Sheila Molloy, Jim Russell and Joe McGann for their contributions to CAIS over the years. Kildare Dobbs’s entertaining post-prandial pappilote capped a wonderful meal with vintage Irish cream.

A success in every aspect, CAIS ’02 was unequivocal proof that the association chose correctly when it decided to meet at a time and place of its own choosing in order to strengthen the sense of community among its members and to focus CAIS’s identity as the national forum for Irish studies in Canada.

The Ireland Fund of Canada has established a scholarship, to be awarded annually, to suitable Canadian applicants. This is a tuition grant of up to $10,000 for graduate students who have applied to study at a recognized academic institution in Ireland in the field of Irish Studies. The current recipient is CAIS member Marnie Hay, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Modern Irish History at UCD.

An academic panel from the University of Toronto and York University will vet the applications. Applications for the Academic Year of 2003/2004 should be sent by March 31st, 2003 to:

Fiona Reddy
Fund Development Manager
The Ireland Fund of Canada
67 Yonge Street, Suite 401
Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1J8.

Interested applicants should forward a letter of proposal including:

a) Current Curriculum Vitae
b) Personal biographic letter including an explanation
of the chosen field of study and schools applied to
c) Budget - and a description of any other funding
d) Two letters of reference (no more than two)
e) Your recent transcript from University

*Please do not submit any publications or articles. For more information contact The Ireland Fund of Canada at the address above or phone: 416-367-8311; or email:


Special congratulations are in order for CAIS member Marianna O’Gallagher who was made a member of the Order of Canada last July. The honour, one of Canada’s highest, was awarded for Marianna’s outstanding work in the field of heritage. She is, as most CAIS members are aware, best known for her research and writing on Grosse Ile. Marianna also had the honour of conducting Seamus Heaney on a tour of the island last summer.


Peter Gray of Southampton University sends the following item which should be of special interest to anyone involved in Irish studies:

‘A team at Southampton University has been awarded a large 3-year grant to develop EPPI: Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland 1801-1922. Over the next three years we will be digitizing the entire run of Ireland-related 'Blue Books' for this period (some 13,700 documents), creating an electronic catalogue, and making the full texts (searchable with OCR software) available over the web. Additional materials (including some emigration reports) will also be digitized under the parallel BOPCRIS project. We hope that making this massive resource for the study of Irish history and culture universally available and searchable, further and innovative research (and teaching) projects will be promoted.’

There are more details at:

CAIS Website has moved....
Watch for conference updates and other information at:

The Carleton Centre for the History of Migration will sponsor an interdisciplinary conference at Carleton University on 7-9 August. Conference organizers invite proposals for 20-minute papers that focus on the theme ‘Reading the Emigrant Letter: Innovation, Approaches, and Interpretations.’ They are also looking for participants on panels that will deal with discussions on the editing of emigrant letters and for a panel on the digitization of such letters for electronic and www. Access. The Carleton University Art Gallery plans to run a special exhibition of letters and books on letters. Send a single -page proposal and biographical paragraph (e-mail preferred) to:

Catholic University in Washington DC will sponsor a conference entitled ‘Decline and Fall?: Catholicism Since 1950 in the US, the Republic of Ireland, and the Province of Quebec’ on March 21-22. Canadian speakers will include Michael Gavreau (History, McMaster) and Gregory Baum (Religious Studies, McGill). Prominent historians, sociologists, and anthropologists from Ireland and the US will also make presentations. For more info, contact Leslie Tentler, Dept. of History, Catholic University, Washington DC, 20064, and/or

The Celtic Studies Association of North America will hold its 2003 meeting on 3-6 April at the University of California at Berkeley. For further information, contact Maria Teresa Agozzino (Mabli), Celtic Colloquium Chair, Celtic Studies Program, 6303 Dwinelle Hall, MC 2690, U.C. Berkeley, CA 94720. Don’t forget the annual meeting of our sister organization, the ACIS at the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis Campus) on 4-7 June. For info contact Jim Rogers at .

The 2003 conference of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL) will take place at the University of Debrecen, Hungary on 7-11 July. This year’s theme is ‘Getting Into Contact.’ It will feature Anthony Roche, Maureen Murphy, John Montague, and Richard Cave, among others. The conference will offer tours of Debrecen, a half-day local excursion, a special night of Irish drama along with readings by several invited Irish writers, and conclude with a festive Farewell Dinner and an optional post-conference tour. For more information email or visit the website:


The big (and at 760 pages, we mean BIG) book of Irish literary interest in recent months is Ann Saddlemyer’s magisterial biography of Georgie Yeats, Becoming George: The Life of Mrs. W.B. Yeats (OUP, 2002) ISBN: 198112327. Highly recommended for anyone with the slightest interest in Yeats and matters Irish.

Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton have just published In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2002).

A related book that’s getting much praise this winter in Ireland is Geraldine Stout’s Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne (Cork UP, 2002). The publishers describe it this way: ‘written with both a detailed knowledge of and palpable affection for the area, and the style of writing combined with the lavish illustrations will ensure its appeal to both the archaeologist and the general public.’

The composer Arnold Bax (1883-1953) was English born but he had a deep affection for Ireland and spent much of his life there. His biographer, Colin Scott-Sutherland recently brought out a limited edition entitled Ideala: Collected Poems, Love Letters, Ephemera, etc. that contains a lot of Irish-related material. For information write: Fand Music Press, The Barony, 16 Sandringham Road, Petersfield GU32 2AA, U.K.
This year’s Yeats Summer School takes place in Sligo 27 July to 8 August and will feature CAIS’s Ann Saddlemyer among its usual galaxy of literary stars. See the school’s website: or email them at for more info.
Fees for 2002-03 were due as of July 1, 2002. If you haven’t paid, Treasurer Danine Farquharson would be delighted to receive your cheque

LET US HEAR FROM YOU! News of conferences past and future, of books, articles, films, Irish-related activities in your neighbourhood, or anything else of potential interest should be sent to: Gary Owens, Huron University College, London, Ont. N6G 1H3. Fax: (519) 438-3938; e-mail: