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Vol. 1 No. 1 December/Nollag, 2001

McGlinchey Summer School Newsletter


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Date and Theme of the 2002 Summer School
3. "The McGlinchey Summer School 2001" - A report by a McGlinchey Summer School Enthusiast

 

1. Introduction

Welcome to the inaugural newsletter of the McGlinchey Summer School. The aim of this newsletter is to provide the online community with the latest information on the McGlinchey Summer School in addition to publishing archived historical data acquired by the McGlinchey Summer School.

 

2. Date and Theme of the 2002 Summer School

The 2002 Summer School will take place on the 5th, 6th and 7th of July.

The exact theme for the 2002 McGlinchey Summer School is yet to be finalised, but some events have been confirmed.

Firstly we are delighted to announce that Seamus Heaney will be attending next year's school. On Friday, July 5th, Heaney will be accompanied by County Down musician, Tommy Sands for an evening of music, song and poetry.

Ultan Cowley is returning to Clonmany to present his study of the lives of Irish Navvies in Britain. The work will be presented as originally intended, as an entertainment combining live music and song, narrative and photography.

On the more academic side of things, we are very pleased to confirm several of the speakers who will be attending.

Richard Doherty, who has written extensively on the topic, will give a talk on the effects of war on Derry and Inishowen.

Declan O'Carroll, an expert on the army forts of Donegal, will give a talk on the forts at Dunree and Leenan.

War and the Media will be the general topic of Eoin O'Halpin's talk, covering the various modes of propaganda employed in war time.

Myrtle Hill's lecture will inform us as to the changing role of women in our society in the first half of the last century.

We also propose to have lectures on the subjects of turf cutting and its importance to the rural economy, and on smuggling.

Next year's school promises to be as interesting and informative as ever, and we are confident that there will be much to provoke lively debate. Each evening there will be an opportunity to retire to the local hostelries to enjoy the usual entertainment, and discuss the events of the day.

We hope to see you there.

 

3.The McGlinchey Summer School 2001

The McGlinchey Summer School 2001

Well! What a weekend in Clonmany. The McGlinchey Summer School into its fourth year and going from strength to strength. Did any amongst us really think three years ago that the enthusiasm, the quality, the enjoyment would be replicated not once, not twice but a third time. This is a summer school as a summer school should be. A great social and learning occasion; a marvelous mix of Inishowen, the rest of Ireland and Ireland across the seas; a blending too of local wisdom and learning, and academic research and insight; talks, lectures, presentations, exhibitions - all erudite, but all easily digested; events so thought provoking and full of force that they creep up on you wherever you are for days, weeks and months afterwards. And lest anything might fade from memory there is the annual volume of proceedings, 'It's Us They're Talking About', to be dipped into long afterwards.

I attended the inaugural McGlinchey Summer School in 1998 and even though I have no connections with Inishowen or Donegal, I was hooked. I had no hesitation this year in driving more than 400 miles from Kerry to Clonmany knowing the programme would live up to the high standard it had set itself. Why, you may ask, do people, outsiders, travel such distances and more to Clonmany on the last weekend in June. Well just you read on and perhaps, le cúnamh Dé, we'll meet there next year. This year's theme was 'Emigration from Ireland to America and Britain since the Famine'.

I arrived in Clonmany in plenty of time for the official opening by Dan Mulhall, Irish Consul General in Edinburgh. He spoke very warmly about the current Irish experience in Scotland. He took pains to emphasize his view that post-devolution Scotland has seen the demise of once widespread anti-Catholic/Irish attitudes. Joe Bradley, a native of Glasgow teaching at the University of Sterling, got I thought closer to the reality of the reluctance of the 'native' Scots to accept the Catholic Irish. He presented two talks 'Celtic Football Club: Sporting Jewel In the Crown of the Irish Diaspora' and another giving an overview of Irish Immigration to Scotland with particular reference to Donegal. The talk on Celtic was very appropriately chaired by Packie Bonner. One hopes that Dan's optimism for post-devolution accommodation of the Irish will prove justified and he seems just the catalyst that is needed to help such a process along.

"The Saturday night concert at which Dinny McLaughlin, Mick Gallinagh and Patsy Toland played to a packed house kept the Scottish theme going with songs from Glaswegians, Joe McAtamney and Derek Williamson. John Waltham sang about English emigration, a rare type of song indeed.

"Scotland again featured large in a panel discussion on their emigration experiences by eight people from the district. This discussion, truly the highlight of the programme, and skillfully presented by Marius Harkin, brought to us the reality and immediacy of the experience of the Irish emigrant In Scotland and England. The real hardship, if not cruelty endured by those who emigrated In the second and into the third quarter of the century was brought home to us in this discussion. A number spoke highly of the Catholic clergy who helped to end the inter-county rivalry that was then exploited by bullying gangers. We also learned that, as we might expect, as education levels among the emigrants Improved so too did their ability to counter attempts at exploitation.

Charlie Doherty (Owen), a sparkling witty man just entering his 10th decade, regaled us with stories that showed that all was not by any means misery when the Irish met to work together In Britain. The other speakers on the panel were Sarah Quinn, Charlie Doherty (Little), Gerry Doherty, Michael McHale, Patsy Grant, Denis Coyle and Peter Doherty (Tim).

American experience

The American experience dominated Saturday's proceedings. This was a fascinating session. Grace Neville gave us wonderful glimpses of female emigrants who stayed and others who returned -"The Great Swells of Girls". This was not a reference to size or shape but to their swank and the swell they cut. John McColgan's talk was great. I for one had not appreciated the extent to which Donegal immigrants, more particularly those from Inishowen and most particularly the Dohertys, destroyed the political dynasty of the Cabot-Lodges, made the Kennedys and finally made and unmade Jimmy Carter. In Dublin we may hear occasionally about the Donegal Mafia, but surely it reached its finest expression in Boston.

Erin Collins guided us through the changing experience of Irish emigrants to Boston during the 1900s. This was later reflected by the panel in relating their experiences in Britain.

In her closely focused study of Inishowen immigrants to Woburn, Massachusetts, Mary Daly reminded us that Irish emigrants to the US were not confined to the large cities. Three talks, each one outstanding and thought provoking dealt neither specifically with America nor Scotland. The Patrick Kavanagh Memorial lecture, 'An emigrant People' by Piaras Mac Einrí, challenged us in many ways, but perhaps most by reminding us that many of the Famine victims who were forced to emigrate were ripped off by some who stayed behind. He asked us to consider who had benefited from the mass emigrations of the 19th and 20th centuries. And he challenged us to look to a future world which may be radically changed by migrations that are now beginning and by economics beyond America and Europe.

Angela Bourke discussed emigration in the context of story telling, In the plays of Brian Friel and in the oral story telling tradition. She polished another part of the theme -'Those who were left behind'. In the third of these talks, Ultan Cowley gave a masterful view of the Irish navvy in Britain. This was done from what was both an insider's and researcher's perspective.

Song

Song was, as is usual in Clonmany, a strong element in the weekend's proceedings. After he had chaired her talk, Angela Bourke asked David Hammond to sing and obliged with 'Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore'. Wonderful! Then at various venues we heard songs from Jimmy McBride and the Inishowen Singers and from many others -songs about emigration and songs about those who stayed and about those who returned. These songs had perhaps their greatest impact when sung or played from a recording in the context of John Moulden's presentation on Songs of Emigration which brought the School to a close at about 10.30 p.m. on Sunday.

But this summer school wasn't all lectures and ragairneacht. The main hall of the venue, the truly magnificent St. Bridget's Youth Club premises, held an exhibition Illustrating many aspects of the theme.

The new annex to the hall housed an exhibition of paintings by local artists Melita Denaro, Sharon McDaid, John Quigley, Martin Toland, Mary Toland and Fionnuala Walsh accompanied by prints by Brian Vallely. Colette Heron exhibited her work in the main lecture room. Ken McGilloway, who opened the exhibition a man far more qualified than I praised these works very highly Indeed. I can but concur.

Two field trips, one to Urris led by John Conaghan, J.J. Keaveney, Patricia Doherty (Copen) and John Joe Doherty and the others to the Isle of Doagh Famine Village with Pat Doherty brought us into the fresh air and out around the coast.

It was nice to see that John Hume was able to take time away from the current difficult political situation to attend the School on Saturday and that Brian Friel attended as always.

This was a tremendously successful occasion. It created a great buzz in the area and an enthusiasm that extended over three days. No mean feat! All thanks, therefore to the committee, who show right through the year total dedication to this project. I understand they met first thing on Monday morning to tie up loose ends and to begin planning next year's event. This is dedication. These eleven people and many more will dedicate a very significant portion of their time and energy to organising next year's Summer School and I have no doubt they will achieve the high standard set from day one.

McGLINCHEY SUMMER SCHOOL ENTHUSIAST.

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