Conference to explore how we ‘cherish all children of the nation equally’

Oct 04 2016 Posted: 10:30 IST

 Event juxtaposes the 100th anniversary of 1916 with the 20th anniversary of the closing of the last Magdalene Laundry.

As part of the 1916: Home: 2016 project, NUI Galway’s Moore Institute will host the first of two national conferences from 7-8 October.

1916: Home: 2016 is a unique project that juxtaposes the centenary year of Easter Rising with the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Republic of Ireland’s last Magdalene Laundry, through two academic conferences and an international programme of artistic events.

Taking the Proclamation’s claim to ‘cherish all children of the nation equally’ as its starting point, 1916: Home: 2016 draws attention to the collision of these two anniversaries in order to interrogate the homes we have made, the homes we hid and the homes that we are yet to imagine and build for 2016 and beyond.

Keynotes speakers include Professor Mike Cronin, Boston College; Professor Marianne Hirsch, Columbia University; Professor Kathleen Gough, University of Vermont; and Professor Cahal McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast.

Confirmed performers at the event in Galway include Irish playwright, poet, novelist and artist, Patricia Burke Brogan, and ‘Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A.’, the direct action feminist performance group that challenges the ongoing problem of Ireland making England the legal destination for abortion. Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, will chair a question and answer session after the ‘Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A.’ performance.

These conferences will interrogate the tension between the ideals of citizenship and inclusion underpinning the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the events of Easter Rising.

The Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and orphanages, were part of a larger church and state-run network also including industrial and reformatory schools, which academic research and recent state inquiries have demonstrated intensified their operation post-independence. 1916: Home: 2016 draws attention to this intensification and asks participants and audience members to interrogate what ‘home’ means now and for the future of the Irish nation?

Dr Miriam Haughton, Lecturer at NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, and joint organiser of the event, said: “We will not only interrogate these ideas but consider the internationally located artistic projects that have been devised and staged in response to our initial call.”

1916: Home: 2016 is designed to give a platform to the unknown heroes and the everyday battles that reflect the social experience in Ireland from the early twentieth century. Dr Haughton explains: “We hope to facilitate space for reflection on key institutions within Irish society post-independence which contributed to the cultivation of Ireland’s highly institutionalised population, while considering the contexts of poverty, class, and gender politics that drove the formation of these histories. We hope to interrogate ‘Irishness’ in its many shades of grey, celebrating citizens that were sidelined to the shadows of national dialogue and consciousness.”

The second conference in the project will take place in UCD 27-28 October. More information and the conference schedule is available at or follow on Twitter at @1916_Home_2016.


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