6, 2002 President Mary McAleese of Ireland will keynote
"Re-Imagining Ireland: Transformations of Identity in a Global
Context", the Virginia
Foundation for the Humanities groundbreaking international
conference and festival, to be held May 7-10, 2003 in Charlottesville.
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and
Irelands Cultural Relations Committee, this unique gathering
will feature more than 100 journalists, writers, politicians, artists,
scholars, musicians, and citizen activists from Ireland and around
town meeting of Ireland, out of Ireland, "Re-Imagining Ireland"
will explore the relation between global economics and traditional
culture, the challenges and opportunities posed by the worldwide
migration of national populations, and connections between religious
and political identity and issues of war and peace. Focusing attention
on Irelands and Northern Irelands changing profile in
a global context, the program will have particular relevance for
an American audience, speaking to their countrys role in the
world of the future.
Ireland' has been planned as a kind of time-out on neutral
ground, says project director Andrew Higgins Wyndham. We
want to take people out of place, routine, and mind-set, to a new
environment in America, where for four days they will exclusively
focus on, analyze, and appreciate Irish culture, both in itself
and in relation to America and other parts of the world.
conference and festival schedule includes 31 thematically organized
panel sessions and special activities. On the roster are two major
concerts, a series of musical narratives, an award-winning play,
a new Irish feature film and series of short films, readings by
major Irish poets, and an exhibition of contemporary Irish art.
The program will accommodate 450 participants and featured guests
from Ireland and throughout the United States, with larger audiences,
ranging up to 900, at special events. A broadcast documentary film
and published book will extend the life and reach of the program.
McAleese, the opening speaker, is the eighth President of the Republic
of Ireland and the first to come from Northern Ireland. A barrister
and former professor of law, she was graduated in law from the Queen's
University, Belfast, in 1973 and was called to the Northern Ireland
Bar in 1974. In 1975, she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal
Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin. In 1987,
she returned to her alma mater, to become Director of the Institute
of Professional Legal Studies. In 1994, she became the first female
Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queen's University. President McAleese is
also an experienced broadcaster, having worked as a current affairs
journalist and presenter in radio and television with Radio Telefís
Éireann, Irelands national broadcaster.
the 102 other participants slated to appear at the conference are
such award-winning writers and poets as Frank McCourt, Roddy Doyle,
Nuala OFaolain, Colm Toibin, Ciaran Carson, Paula Meehan,
and Cathal O Searcaigh; renowned musicians, including Frankie Gavin,
Seamus Egan, Mick Moloney, Andy Irvine, Joannie Madden, Martin Hayes,
Tommy Sands, Bruce Molsky, and Len Graham and Pádraigín
Ní Uallacháin; celebrated historians, including Declan
Kiberd, Joe Lee, Kerby Miller, Donald Akenson, Tim Pat Coogan, Marianne
Elliott, Roy Foster, and Noel Ignatiev; respected journalists and
authors Susan McKay, Jacki Lyden, Eamonn McCann, David McKittrick,
and Fintan OToole; and such well-known activists and politicians
as Margaret Mac Curtain, Michael D. Higgins and David Ervine. Participants
will also include economists, prominent business and cultural leaders,
clergy, Irish Travelers (sometimes referred to as tinkers
or gypsies), and representatives of the news media.
arts events will include concerts by De Dannan and The
Green Fields of America and by Solas and Cherish
the Ladies; an exhibition of contemporary sculpture and painting
from the Irish Museum of Modern Art, to be presented from April
12 - June 8 at the University
of Virginia Art Museum; performances of Michael Wests
Foley, an award-winning play starring Abbey actor Andrew
Bennett, from Dublins Corn Exchange and Richard Wakely Productions;
a series of short films from the Cork International Film Festival;
and a new dramatic feature film from the Irish Film Board.
Ireland" is funded by a $200,000 award from the National Endowment
for the Humanities and a grant of 50,000 Euros from the Cultural
Relations Committee of Ireland. Additional major support has been
provided by the Anne Lee Ueltschi Foundation, the Office
of the President at the University of Virginia, Foras na Gaeilge
in Dublin, Caterpillar, RBC Dain Rauscher, the U.Va.
Forum for Contemporary Thought, the Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation,
Peter Sutherland, and other individual donors. Dominion Digital
of Charlottesville and Richmond is contributing the design of the
Ireland" Web site; ServerVault is the pro bono host of
the site. Institutional co-sponsors include Poetry Ireland, the
Film Board of Ireland, the Cork International Film Festival, the
Irish Centre for Migration Studies, the Irish Museum of Modern Art,
and Glucksman Ireland House at New York University.
the conference and festival, the "Re-Imagining Ireland"
documentary film and book will reach an American and international
audience of millions, introducing new perspectives on Ireland and
global culture, challenging national stereotypes and easy assumptions
about historical and contemporary change. The documentary will be
co-produced by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Paul
Wagner and RTÉ, Irelands national broadcaster, with
distribution support from South Carolina ETV. The project book,
a group of commissioned essays with photo illustrations, is under
contract with the University
of Virginia Press. The entire program package will, for years
to come, attract people interested in Ireland generally, issues
of globalization, and Irish studies.
Complete program information on "Re-Imagining Ireland"
is available at the project
Web site. The conference is a public event, with free admission
to all panels, but registration will be limited. The fee structure
for the conference package, including meals and all arts events,
will be posted shortly. Those interested in attending can register
on-line beginning Jan. 10. To receive printed bulletins or registration
materials when available, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for individual events, including concerts, film screenings,
Foley, and other performances, will be available on-line and by
mail beginning March 1.