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Lectures, Conference to Explore Irish Heritage

March 1, 2017

This spring, the Irish Studies Program at St. John Fisher College will host a series of lectures that celebrate the history and heritage of Ireland. Experts on Irish folklore, politics, music, and history will explore various aspects of the country. In addition, a two-day conference in April will look at Ireland’s connection to the American Civil War and Canadian Confederation.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information about any of the lectures, email Dr. Tim Madigan, director of the program, at tmadigan@sjfc.edu.

The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, said to have been created in a monastery in Ireland around c. 800 AD.

The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, said to have been created in a monastery in Ireland around c. 800 AD.

Lecture: “Inside The Book of Kells
6:15 p.m., Wednesday, March 15, Golisano Gateway Midlevel

Dr. Bridgette Slavin, clinical assistant professor in the Division of Humanities at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York, will deliver a lecture on The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, said to have been created in a monastery in Ireland around c. 800 AD.

There are only 1,480 facsimile editions worldwide of The Book of Kells; one of these—a gift from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and other Irish supporters—is in the St. John Fisher College Lavery Library and will be on display at the talk. 

Slavin, who earned a doctorate in Celtic studies, has published on themes in early Irish kingship and the supernatural. She is currently revising a monograph for the University of Wales Press entitled, The Perception of Magic and Druidry in Early Irish Texts, and has just completed the essay, “Secret Murder and Magic in the Law of Adomnán,” forthcoming in 2017.

Lecture: “The Irish Presidency: A Useless Office?”
4 p.m., Thursday, March 23, Golisano Gateway Midlevel

Dr. Sebastien Lazardeux, assistant professor of political science, will question the necessity for the presidential office in Ireland. The office was not created purposefully, but rather emerged from a series of unlikely historical circumstances. Moreover, neither the formal powers of the president (unsubstantial) nor the use of these powers (almost non-existent) seem to justify the presence of the presidency in the Irish institutional system. Yet, Irish citizens perpetuate the futile exercise of voting for the president every seven years. Lazardeux will try to answer this puzzle by looking both at the evolution of the presidential function and at the president’s use of the bully pulpit as a political tool.

Lecture: Traditional Irish Music
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, Golisano l Gateway Midlevel

David Wilson, professor in the History Department and the Celtic Studies Program at the University of Toronto, shares his expertise in traditional Irish music.

Annual Irish Studies Conference:
“The Irish and the American Civil War”
Thursday, April 6 and Friday, April 7

Conference Keynote Address: “Liberating Ireland by Invading Canada: The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866”
7 p.m., Thursday, April 6, Wegmans School of Nursing 100

David Wilson, professor in the History Department and the Celtic Studies Program at the University of Toronto, will explore the invasion of Canada and its intention to liberate Ireland from British rule.  Called by one Irish revolutionary in the 1860s a “mad and traitorous diversion from the right path,” some argue there was a method to the madness, and there were understandable and plausible reasons why the Fenians believed that they could free Ireland by attacking Canada.  During the keynote address of the annual Irish Studies Conference, Wilson will explain the rationale behind the invasion strategy, and argue that it was not as farfetched as it first appears.

Wilson serves as the general editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  His books include United Irishmen, United States, and a two-volume biography of Thomas D’Arcy McGee. He has also written Ireland, A Bicycle and A Tin Whistle, consisting of stories about the traditional music scene in Ireland. Some of the stories are even true!

Conference Proceedings
1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 7, Wilson Formal Lounge

1 p.m. Welcoming address by Dr. Donald Bain, president emeritus, St. John Fisher College

1:30 p.m. Skype Session with James Doherty, military historian from Waterford, Ireland: “The Irish Who Fought in the American Civil War”

2:30 p.m. Tim Madigan, director of Irish Studies, St. John Fisher College: “Thomas Francis Meagher and the Irish Brigade”

3:30 p.m. Michael McCarthy, president of the Rochester Branch of the Irish American Cultural Association: “The Irish Who Fought in the Confederate Army”

4:30 p.m. Judge Richard Dollinger, Colonel Patrick O’Rorke Memorial Society: “Patrick O’Rorke and the Battle of Gettysburg”

Following Judge Dollinger’s talk there will be a procession to Lavery Library

5:30 p.m. Re-dedication of the O’Rorke Society Bust in Lavery Library (reception to follow)