2000-12-23 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey American Conference On Irish Studies

Chatting With Chapey
American Conference On Irish Studies

The 38th annual meeting of the American Conference on Irish Studies was held at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland.  This conference focused on the Irish and the American experience.  It looked at the human understanding from a cultural, psychological and social viewpoint.

Psychologists note that the high workings of the mind depend on culture - the language, knowledge, beliefs and other forms of information that accumulate in a population over time, and are passed on from one generation to the next.  These cultural variations influence all aspects of motivation, emotion, thought and action.  Each culture has its own distinct history, which produces a somewhat different version of the human mind - such as an "Irish Mind" or the "American Mind."

The conference focused on many Irish issues including traditional music, film, poetry, cultural geography, the national Gaelic language, teaching the famine, Irish studies, revolutionary women, current feminism, politics, medieval and current history, 20th Century theatre, political movements, labor patterns, social displacement, cross national influences, postcoloniality and the Irish in Australia, Canada, America, Africa and India.

Nancy Curtin, the president of the American Conference on Irish Studies, was proud to welcome Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland. President McAleese opened the conference by noting that scholars from many fields and from four continents had gathered to share a discourse during the conference.

 The President of the University of Limerick, Dr. Roger G.H. Downer, welcomed everyone to the University of Limerick.  He noted that a comprehensive and exciting academic program was taking place.  It was his
hope that the relationships between scholars in Irish Studies in Ireland and in the United States would be strengthened through these interactions.

The University of Limerick itself is a magnificent place.  Its majestic entrance with twenty to thirty foot high trees gracing the half-mile entrance is a glimpse of the beauty of the campus.  The campus consists of acres of green fields, rolling hills, and beautiful trees and shrubs.  The buildings are regal in nature.  On the campus, there is a plaque commemorating a visit by President Ronald Regan where he looked forward to a close working relationship between the Irish and the Americans.  If you ever have an opportunity to visit the University of Limerick it is well worth the time.

The University of Limerick according to Nancy Curtain, president of ACIS, proved to be a magnet to attract a wide array of scholars from many fields and disciplines with an emphasis on literature and history. She further noted that there was a scientific, technological and cutting edge thrust in the conference panels and sessions.  Language, music and the visual arts were also explored.

The session which I chaired on Interrogating Ethnicity looked at "Rethinking the Irish Immigrant and Ethnic Experience" and the "Process of Integration and the Re-Invention of Self: The Experiences of the Returning Irish Emigrants". It stressed the fact that until 1990, many professionals of Irish descent who were trained in Ireland migrated to England, America and other countries because of the scarcity of jobs in Ireland.  However, since 1990, the economic prosperity in Ireland has caused a reverse migration. Many professionals are returning home to find excellent economic and professional opportunities.

The conference provided an excellent opportunity to interact with professionals who are studying and creating new frontiers.  The conference provided an enlightening and enriching experience for everyone.

Best wishes to everyone for a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas.  May all of us enjoy good health and happiness in the New Year.

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