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Classics and Irish Politics 1916-2016 - 20-21-22-23/06/2016, Dublin (Ireland)

This conference addresses for the first time, in an academic context, how models from Greek and Roman antiquity have permeated Irish political discourse over the last century. The 1916 Easter Rising, when Irish nationalists rose up against British imperial forces, became almost instantly mythologized in Irish political memory as a key turning point in the nation’s history which paved the way for an independent Irish Republic. Its centenary provides a natural point for reflection on Irish politics, and the aim of this conference is to highlight an under-appreciated element in Irish political discourse, namely its frequent reliance on and reference to classical Greek and Roman models.

Irish engagement with classical models is complex. Rome, for example, could easily serve as a model for imperial domination, and thus could represent Britain in Irish thought. The issue is complicated, however, by the power and influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the use of ecclesiastical Latin, and the popularity of certain classical Roman authors like Virgil among Irish readers of Latin. Greek resistance to Persian invasions could represent resistance to empire, and parallels were drawn between Greece and Ireland by authors like Patrick Pearse and W.B. Yeats. Nevertheless, a tension existed in Irish political thought between seeking inspiration in Greek models and creating an independent national Irish identity. Much work has been done in recent years on the tensions associated with the exploitation of classical models in post-colonial societies, where the classical, which normally represents the colonizer, is re-appropriated and re-purposed for a nationalist agenda. Ireland very rarely features in such discussions and indeed Ireland is a unique case in this context, since the Irish (unlike other colonized peoples) were very well versed in Greek and Latin before ever the British plantations began in the 16th century. For the Irish, then, classical sources are essentially indigenous to the people and are not models appropriated from the colonizer.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 20-21-22-23/06/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Royal Irish Academy y Trinity College Dublin (Dublín, Ireland)


INFO: web -



Monday 20th of June

3:00-5:00 Conference Registration

5:15 Welcome

5:30 Madden-Rooney Lecture: Declan Kiberd ‘Use and Abuse of Classics’

7:00 Opening Reception

Tuesday 21st of June

9:00-9:30 Conference Registration; Coffee, Tea, Breakfast Pastries

9:30-11:30 Classics and 1916, Chair: Kevin Whelan (Notre Dame)

• Eoghan Moloney (Winchester) ‘Classics in the van of the Irish Revolt: Ancient Ideals and 1916’

• Michael Clarke (NUI, Galway) ‘Primary Epic and Radical Patriotism’

• Nicholas Allen (Georgia) ‘Classicism, Empire, and Ireland’

11:30-12:00 Coffee

12:00-1:20 Tensions in Rejecting Classical Models, Chair: Anna Chahoud (Trinity College Dublin)

• Cillian O’Hogan (Waterloo) ‘Myles na Gopaleen’s Cruiskeen Lawn columns’

• Geraldine Parsons (Glasgow) ‘Not Ulysses but Oisín: Michael Ireland’s The Return of the Hero’

1:20-2:30 Lunch

2:30-3:50 Classical modes of discourse and political expression, Chair: Brian Krostenko (Notre Dame)

• Brian McGing (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Classical Oratory and Irish Politics’

• David Larmour (Texas Tech) ‘Hibernitatis nulla fides: The Juvenalian Satire of Martin McDonagh’

3:50-5:00 Tea, Coffee

5:30-6:45 Keynote: Edith Hall (King’s College London) ‘Ipsis Hibernis Hiberniores: Sinn Féin according to Professor Robert Mitchell Henry and James Joyce’s Ulysses’ (Neill/ Hoey Lecture Theatre, Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin)

6:45 Reception (Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin)

Wednesday 22nd of June

9:00-9:30 Coffee, Tea, Breakfast Pastries

9:30-11:30 The Politics of Narrative and Performance, Chair: Declan Kiberd (Notre Dame)

• Fiona Macintosh (Oxford) ‘The Politics of the Irish Odyssey’

• Richard Seaford (Exeter) ‘George Thomson, the Poetic Speech of Ireland, and the Universal March of History’

• Steve Wilmer (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Marina Carr’s Hecuba and Irish Politics’

11:30-12:00 Coffee

12:00-1:20 Sexual Politics, Chair: Martine Cuypers (Trinity College Dublin)

• Isabelle Torrance (Notre Dame) ‘Trojan Women and 95 Years of Irish Sexual Politics’

• Iarfhlaith Manny (Oxford) ‘Greek Love, Gaelic Love: Irish Sexual Politics and Ancient Greece’

1:20-2:30 Lunch

2:30-4:20 Comparative Perspectives: Ireland and Rome, Chair: Diana Spencer (Birmingham)

• Siobhán Hargis (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Memory and Commemoration in Republican Rome and the Irish Republic’

• Siobhán McElduff (British Columbia) ‘Dido’s Ireland: looking back from Frank McGuinness’ Carthaginians to the long history of Carthage in the Irish political imagination’

• Brian Arkins (NUI, Galway) ‘Roman History and Ireland in Heaney, Friel, McGuinness and Hewitt’

Speaker Dinner, 6:30 pm, 1592 Restaurant, Trinity College Dublin

Thursday 23rd of June

9:00-9:30 Coffee, Tea, Breakfast Pastries

9:30-10:50 Greek and Roman Models in Michael Longley’s Political Poetry, Chair: Lorna Hardwick (Open University)

• Maureen Alden (Belfast): Michael Longley’s Ceasefire and the Iliad

• Donncha O’Rourke (Edinburgh): Soul mates: Longley, Propertius, and the Elegiac Tradition

10:50-11:30 Coffee

11:30-12:50 Virgil and Irish Political Discourse, Chair: Monica Gale (Trinity College Dublin)

• Damien Nelis (Geneva) ‘Virgil, Heaney and the georgic tradition’

• Fiachra Mac Góráin (University College London) ‘Virgil in Irish’

12:50-1:50 Lunch

1:50-3:10 Classical and Celtic Mythology, Chair: David Scourfield (NUI, Maynooth)

• Mark Williams (Oxford) ‘Austin Clarke, Greek Myth, and the Gods of Ireland’

• Arabella Currie (Oxford) ‘The Legacy of Synge in Ireland’s Reception of Antiquity’

3:10-3:30 Coffee

3:30-4:50 The Influence of Classical Material Culture, Chair: Hazel Dodge (Trinity College Dublin)

• Christine Morris (Trinity College Dublin) ‘Images from a usable past: classical influences on Irish coins’ (delivered by Suzanne O’Neill)

• Suzanne O’Neill (Trinity College Dublin) ‘The Stones of Stormont: A Greek Temple to Unionism and Empire’

5:30-6:45 Keynote: Terry Eagleton ‘Ancient Sacrifice and Modern Revolution’ (Neill/ Hoey Lecture Theatre, Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin)

6:45 Reception (Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin)

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