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Eighteenth-Century Ireland Conference. Day Two

June 13, 2016


Another enormous breakfast and a hop and a skip to the venue.

The first session I was at (and its rival that I wasn’t at probably consisted of sheer bloody brilliance) involved an eclectic mix of Irish language scholarship and sponsorship and Ossianic alliances together with a discussion of the legacy of Frances Hutcheson.  I was especially keen to learn about James McLagan, a Scottish Gaelic scholar whose useful relationship with Irish Gaelic scholar Charles O’ Conor did much to put the literature of these islands in its proper complex perspective.   The role and function of literature in prompting and framing large questions of ethics and identity is another discussion that will not and cannot get old.

Thank you Vincent Morley, Peadar Ó Muircheartaigh and Dan Carey.

With a deal of precious coffee and even more precious fresh air on what was a remarkably close and warm day we were fortified for a wonderful Alan Harrison Memorial lecture on Transcripts from the Long Eighteenth-Century and their Transcribers.  We were wafted away into a world of manuscript book making that survived long long into the so-called “Age of Print”.  What changes, innovations, edifications and beautifications were added by transcribers?  How do transcribers talk to one another across time?

Thank you Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail.

We were running behind for the best of reasons.  We all of us had too much, far too much, to say to one another.  And so a brief lunch lurched quickly into the AGM of Eighteenth-Century Ireland.  We put the world to rights in double quick time.  The world will thank us for it in its own sweet time.

With the world sorted out, I find I have to give a paper myself.  As usual, I have absolutely no recollection of what that was like. I do, however have a strong appreciation for the consequent talks on Burke’s influence on Brian Friel as well as news of an extended project on Irish song in the eighteenth century.  Burke’s unique capacity to be read and reread and appropriated in what are (superficially) surprising contexts was remarked upon.  The challenge and the need to retrieve music as well as words was also discussed.  We were reminded that the broadsheet ballad represented, in many ways, the first great opportunity for music to become portable.  Even wearable perhaps.

Thank you David Clare and Moyra Haslett.

The final plenary took us to an analysis of what put the “Anglo” in “Anglo-Irish” and whether these “Anglo” identities were coherent or even compatible?  What sort of “Anglo” did those “Irish” want from their relationship with an adjacent island and how did it inform their Irishness?  As I’ve always thought – it all comes down to hyphens.

Thank you Michael Brown.  I must read your big fat book.

We had time for me to get two pints in (barely) before catching a bus and I currently owe someone a drink.

Thank you Lesa Ní Mhunghaile and Rebecca Barr.

We at ECIS are the most interdisciplinary of all the world’s eighteenth-century societies – the least defensive of our disciplinary affiliation and our sense of tribal representation.  We are polite.  We are respectful.  We listen.  We learn.


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One Comment
  1. So I’m curious–what was the topic of YOUR paper?

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