NUI Galway To Host 1916 Conference at Columbia University

A copy of Padraic Pearse' lecture in New York in 1914.
Mar 24 2016 Posted: 15:26 GMT

NUI Galway will host ‘1916: The Irish Rising at 100 Years’ conference in Columbia University to discuss the formative role of America in shaping the Easter Rising

NUI Galway will host a conference entitled ‘1916: The Irish Rising at 100 Years’. It is the only 1916 event being held outside of Ireland by an Irish university and will take place at Columbia University’s prestigious Heyman Center for the Humanities on Friday, 1st of April.

Four speakers from NUI Galway will discuss aspects of the relationship between Ireland, America, and 1916, telling the story of the Easter Rising, its context and cultural impact, and the formative role of America and New York in particular in shaping the Rising. The Galway speakers will be joined by three academics from Columbia University and three scholars from Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State University.

From NUI Galway, 1916 Scholar-in-Residence Dr Conor McNamara will look at the relationship between America and the Irish. The most significant figure in the events leading to the Rising, Thomas Clarke, emigrated to New York in 1880. He worked closely there with Clan na Gael leader John Devoy, the journalist and editor of the New York Herald, the Irish Nation and Gaelic American. Clarke returned to Ireland in 1907, re-organised the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was executed following the Easter Rising.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, a major leader in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), was exiled in 1871 (along with Devoy), and spent most of the rest of his life in New York, where he edited the United Irishman newspaper. He died in Staten Island and the return of his body to Ireland for burial in 1915 was the occasion of Patrick Pearse’s milestone funeral oration. Pearse himself recognised the centrality of assistance from the US in the independence struggle and as a means to raise funds. In New York he delivered an important Emmet memorial speech in March 1914.

Historian Dr Mary Harris from NUI Galway will look at the role of the key leaders in the Rising, Padraic Pearse and Eoin MacNeill, who moved from cultural to political activism. Pearse was inducted into the Irish Republican Brotherhood, initially to boost his attempts to raise funds in America for St. Enda’s School and he went on to play a significant role in planning the Easter Rising, leaving MacNeill in the dark. Dr Harris will discuss their perspectives on the Irish language, literature, and revolt, the consequences of which MacNeill lived to deal with after Pearse’s execution.

NUI Galway Historian, Dr John Cunningham, will discuss the crucial role of Irish labour in this transformative historical moment. James Connolly spent 1903 to 1910 in the US, and lessons he learned there informed the Dublin Lockout of 1913, while others drew on the British and American trade union organisation to advance their cause.

Literary scholar Dr Adrian Paterson from NUI Galway will talk about the reaction to the Rising in the work of W.B. Yeats. ‘Easter 1916’ became his most famous poetic response but he made a series of other contributions: ballads about the sixteen men, later made into multimedia hand-printed broadsides, and an astonishing combination of east and west, a Japanese Noh play set in the west of Ireland, The Dreaming of the Bones, featuring a rebel who flees after his role in the Rising to the desolate places of the west coast.

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