The 5th McGlinchey Summer School

5th - 7th July 2002

''Borders, Boundaries and Divisions."

 

General Press Release June 2002

Exhibition Press Release June 2002

In the "Last of the Name" Charles McGlinchey tells many stories which demonstrate the power of borders and divisions - real or imaginary - in the lives of the people of Clonmany. He tells us of the Clonmany girl who many years ago was seized and abducted by men from Kinnagoe or Buncrana. Her father secretly visited her, but had to head off quickly when he discovered that his new 'in-laws' were returning. He ran from them in great fear until he crossed the stream that divides the parish of Buncrana from the parish of Clonmany. "As soon as he got across and into his own parish he turned to face them and put his trust in God and the Tearman (monastic sanctuary) of Cluain Maine (Clonmany), and fell to them with a cudgel of a stick he had and killed them as they came forward to him. The people that were killed were buried at that spot, and it was always called Sruthan na gCorp (the Stream of the Corpses)".

The relationship between borders, boundaries and divisions and the lives and deaths of the people in this story is quite stark.
Seamus Heaney in his address will extend the exploration of the theme starting with a poem by the Monaghan poet, Patrick Kavanagh's. In Epic, Kavanagh presents a dispute between two Monaghan farmers over land ownership. The poem suggests that many territorial conflicts, great and small, arise from the reality of "imagined communities", i.e. from what it means to belong to a home ground, and what it means to dwell on the border between them.
Tommy Sands, singer, guitarist, songwriter and social activist will join with Heaney in projecting our theme with music of his own composition. He has unique experience in a current project in which he teaches underprivileged prisoners in Reno, Nevada to write songs with which to defend themselves in court. His musical work with Protestant and Catholic school children in Northern Ireland gives voice, as it were, to how he helps deal with border issues there.

Another remarkable feature of McGlinchey's story of a border skirmish is the practice of fuadach, i.e. the abduction of women. To a great extent, fuadach succeeded because women felt constrained by the boundary between the domestic and the public spheres. So real were the effects of this constraint that women were prevented from leaving their abductors and going back to a home which was often only a few miles away.
Times have changed of course, and to chart the course of that change for this year's McGlinchey Summer School, Myrtle Hill, in her talk "Breaking Out", will focus on some of the many ways in which women have challenged the restrictions imposed on them. Hill will also celebrate how many individual women transgressed the boundaries of society's norms to empower themselves and others.

Border conflicts on both a global and a provincial scale will also be discussed at this year's Summer School, with particular focus on World War II.

The fact of our near neighbours being at war has had a significant influence on our own local history. Richard Doherty, the Derry historian and author, will illustrate and discuss the effects of World War II on Derry and the north-west.

Professor Eunan O'Halpin will look at some of the intrigues of war and division when he addresses the question of British black propaganda in Ireland in the Second World War years. This appears to have been waged both through Ireland and through America as part of the British war effort.

Col. Brian O'Reilly's talk will highlight the role of Forts Dunree and Leenan in guarding our boundaries at the entrance to the Swilly. The strategic importance of Dunree and Leenan, among other things, will be indicated in the course of his subsequent field trip to both Forts.

To manys the intrepid Inishowener, a border exists to be flouted, and never more so than when war and conflict cause shortages. Many of us brought up in the border counties know of attempts to breach regulations with a bit of smuggling during the emergency years, with most of our friends and neighbours taking to it like it was second nature!
The address of these minor offences, and the much more serious activities of the past and present, are of course the responsibility of the Customs and Excise Department of our State. Two of the Department's officers, Pat McNally and Paddy Ryan will enlighten us about their experiences and techniques as they recount the exciting life of a Custom's man.
Be advised to leave your contraband at home this weekend, folks, as Pat and Paddy will also be treating us to a demonstration of their sniffer dogs at work!

The Second World War of course posed problems for the Irish State on several fronts, not least of all by causing fuel shortages.
Paddy Doherty will cover emergency measures put in place to deal with the threat of invasion of our boundaries. He will also explain the remarkable story of the emergency turf campaign set up to deal with acute fuel shortages. These efforts, as Paddy puts it, made places like West Inishowen one of the power stations of the 1940's.

In conclusion, in this year's McGlinchey Summer School we hope to explore, both in serious detail and with wit and levity, the distinctive influence of Borders Boundaries and Divisions on the culture and imagination of those who live with them. The people of the northwest will recognise the traces of that influence as well as any, and maybe better than most.

So as we head into this weekend of talk we could perhaps leave the last word to Derry's Seamus Deane, in his poem The Broken Border:

'The only road we can take now
To get us home crosses and recrosses
The border, making a loop
Of quiet fields where there are
Strange, scattered boulders
That look as if a meaning
Might have existed once for their exploded
Circlings. I don't know. But we
Could talk about that on the way back.'


 

 


  Charles McGlinchey
  Patrick Kavanagh
  School Manuscripts
  'Last Of The Name'
  Summer School Newsletter


  '06 Summer School
  '05 Summer School
  '04 Summer School
  '03 Summer School
  '02 Summer School
  '01 Summer School
  '00 Summer School
  '99 Summer School
  '98 Summer School


  '99 Magazine
  '98 Magazine



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