2002-11-09 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey,

Democratic District Leader
Irish In New York: American Conference
On Irish Studies Holds Its Annual Convention

On November 1st, 2nd and 3rd the American Conference on Irish Studies held its annual Mid Atlantic Regional Convention.  The focus was on Irish Cultures.

I chaired a panel on the Irish in New York.  There were three panelists including: Professor Ed Hagen from Western Connecticut State University who spoke on "The Decay of Lying?  On Life Support in William Kennedy's Roscoe and Thomas Kelly's The Rackets"; Helen McGuire - Driver from Cayuga Community College who spoke on "The Picture of Nativism: Maggie's New York;" and Jennifer Nugent Duffy from New York University who spoke on "Transplantation and Transformations: New York City's Irish Immigrant Bars since 1945."

Each of the presentations was well researched, very interesting and extremely informational. Professor Hagan's review of Kennedy and Kelly's works focused on politics and elections. His witticisms were humorous but at the same time meaningful because we are in the middle of a political season and being bombarded with political ads. 

Professor O'Hagen has edited a new book entitled "To The Leaders of Our Working People". It focuses on the lifetime writings of Standish James O'Grady. It is published by the University College Dublin Press. It is definitely worth reading.

Helen McGuire - Driver's presentation is part of a larger research project on "The Picture of Nativism." It focused on the turn of the century writings of Robert Levine, Steve Craine and Jacob Riis. They painted a group picture of the Irish with negative stereotypes. Craine, for example, in his 1893 book about Maggie wrote about the Irish in the Bowery. He gave a very vivid description without ever having gone to the Bowery or ever having interviewed the Irish immigrants he was writing about. Helen pointed out that there are many lessons that we can learn through looking at these writings from a historical perspective about the effect of negative stereotyping, about growing immigrant populations and about current cultural needs of new immigrant groups.

Jennifer Nugent Duffy spoke on the changing role of Irish women. She noted their increasing interest in sports, economics and politics. Irish female sports teams are now being invited and sponsored to play in New York. This was formerly an all male domain. She noted that Irish women are taking on other new roles as entrepreneurs and managers.

Contemporary Irish Artists and Landscape Locations were focused on at the conference. There was a screening of "An Artist Abroad, 2001", directed by Sabina Brennan - an Irish language short film with subtitles profiling painter Elizabeth O'Reilly and her work in the west of Ireland. A discussion with Mrs. O'Reilly followed the film.

Part of the conference included a New York opening of the exhibit "Home and Away: Contemporary Irish Art" held at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan. The Irish Consul General Eugene Hutchinson hosted the exhibit. The artists exhibiting were Peter Hendrick, J. Kieran Mc Connell, Helen O'Leary, Elizabeth O'Reilly, John Spinks and Susan Mac Williams. The conference was very worthwhile.

Jennifer Nugent Duffy, Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader, Professor Ed Hagen and Helen Mc Guire- Driver discuss the contribution of the Irish in New York.

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