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May 23, 2016

So you haven’t officially registered?  Never mind.  Here’s the programme.  If you’re within reach of Maynooth come for any part of the following you like.


What is a Republic?

A day of definitional controversy inspired by the 100th anniversary of the 1916 proclamation.

Maynooth University, Iontas Building.

23 May, 11.00am to 7pm.

What does it mean to proclaim a “republic” rather than any other form of government?  What positive characteristics belong to a republic that are distinct from the mere absence of a hereditary head of state?  What are republican values?  What is a republican aesthetic?  And to what extent is the word “republic” different from while cognate with related terms like “democracy” or “commonwealth”.  How has the definition of a republic changed over time and how does it vary cross-culturally?

1916 is not merely a nationalist commemoration but a republican one also.  The signatories of the 1916 proclamation committed themselves not merely to Irish national sovereignty but to a particular tradition of sovereignty – a republican tradition.  Any commemoration of 1916 therefore demands a commitment to a better understanding of what people have tried to communicate by words such as “republic” and “republican” and the extent to which these international and historical invocations can claim meaningful semantic continuity.  If the promise of 1916 is to be renewed as well as recalled, then the simple question “what is a republic” needs to be re-asked with each generation.  This question should be answered in as inter-disciplinary a context as possible, engaging those with a background in political science, anthropology, literature, history, music, classical studies, music, and the visual arts.
Keynote Speakers:  Philip Pettit (Princeton University); Margaret O’ Callaghan (Queens University Belfast).

Supported by Maynooth University’s Commemoration Committee.

10 Euro Registration Donation suggested for Waged Delegates.




Registration (and coffee) – 11.00am

11.30 – 12.30 – Margaret O’Callaghan:
“Who owns the Republic? Commemoration and the dilemma of state and nation”.

12.30 – 1.30pm – Lunch

1.30pm – 3.30pm – parallel sessions


A      Chair: Michael Cronin

William Desmond    “A terrible beauty is born”: New Ireland and the old ideal of “aesthetic democracy”

Conrad Brunstrom    “Towards an Anthology of Republican Verse”

Cathy Barry    “Irish Republicanism in the early 18th Century: Molesworth, Toland and Hutcheson”


B      Chair:  Conor McCarthy

Eoin Daly:  “Republican Themes in the Irish Constitution”

James Heaney   “Come and see the blood in the streets”: the national and international relevance of the 1916 Rising.”

Sinead Kennedy:   “Mother Ireland, get off our backs”: Gender, Republicanism and the Irish State”


3.30pm – 4pm Coffee

4.00pm   Conor McCarthy:  ‘What is Living and What is Dead in the Legacy of James Connolly’.

4.30pm   Wine Reception.

6pm – Philip Pettit:    “Freedom in the Republic: The History of an Idea”.




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