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When the translation is provided submissions to the blog will be published in both English and Irish. Please send submissions to the webmaster address shown at the very top of the blog. Please visit us often. This blog is the companion of the Ottawa Comhaltas website:

Beidh poist a fhoilsiú i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge nuair is féidir. Tabhair cuairt orainn go minic. Is é seo an blag an compánach an láithreán gréasáin Comhaltas Ottawa:

Tuesday 18 October 2016

CAIS 2016 - Conference -- 1916: The Easter Rising and Its Aftermath

Image © Robert Ballagh 

1916: The Easter Rising and Its Aftermath

When: Saturday October 22nd, 2016
Time: 08AM to 06:30PM
Where: Irish Ambassador’s Residence, 291 Park Road, Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa 


0800: Registration & coffee/tea
0845: Welcome and Opening Remarks: Ambassador Jim Kelly, Jane McGaughey (President, CAIS/ACEI)
0900: Keynote Address Moderator: Kerby Miller

Joe Lee: The Republic: Cast a Cold Eye
He will lecture on the Proclamation of the Irish Republic declared on Easter Monday 1916, seeking to locate it in its ideological and historical context, to evaluate the impulses behind it, and inquiring about its impact on, and relevance to, the Ireland of both 1916 and 2016.

1000-1015: Coffee break
1015: PANEL 1: The Status Quo Ante: Home Rule, the Church, & the Great War Moderator: Dermot Keogh

Marie Coleman: 'Nationalism and republicanism in regional Ireland, 1910-18'
Exploring the state of local politics in regional Ireland during the period of the home rule crisis, the First World War and the Rising. The presentation will focus on the strength of constitutional nationalist organisations such as the United Irish League and the Ancient Order of Hibernians at local level in an effort to determine the actual strength of the home rule movement in an era when it faced little or no serious political opposition. The effect of wider national events, including the 1909 land act, the third home rule bill, the war and the Rising on the incipient decline of constitutional nationalism will be examined.

Niall Keogh: Juggling Dynamite: The Catholic Church in parlous times
The 1916 Rising threw up many challenges for institutional Ireland, none more so than for the Catholic Church which was the pillar of stability in Ireland. This paper will attempt to enunciate the multifaceted approach of the Catholic Church in Ireland during the aftermath of the Rising, including their response to the Rising, the conscription crisis, and continuing to engage with the British State in terms of continuing to send Catholic Chaplains to the Western Front.

John Borgonovo: ‘Remobilisation and Destabilisation in Cork, 1916-1918’
The commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising emphasized the rebellion’s transformative effect on Irish politics, setting in motion the rise of Irish republicanism. This paper will argue that more attention should be paid to the affect of the British government’s remobilisation campaign of 1917 and 1918 in Ireland. Economic centralisation, food rationing, renewed military recruiting and conscription, and government propaganda emphasizing self-determination for small nations, all rebounded unexpectedly in Ireland. This paper will show how the new Sinn Féin party exploited public discontent with the war in the city of Cork, thus creating the conditions for political revolution at war’s end.

1145: Keynote Address, (sponsored by The Canada Research Chair in European Studies, Dalhousie University)
Moderator: Michele Holmgren

Margaret Ward: ‘Commemorating Irish women and revolution’
The centenary of the Easter Rising has been significant for its unprecedented focus on women’s role in the foundation of the state. How did this happen? McAuliffe et al (2016) have argued that it has been ‘The corrective of the last four decades by historians of women who have been researching and writing about the women’s role in the Rising (that) has helped to force inclusion of women in the 2016 Commemorations.’ This lecture will consider the significance of the centenary year for those supporting gender equality, while also reflecting upon the extent to which a more nuanced picture of women’s participation in political events has emerged.

1245: Lunch

1345: PANEL 2: Combustible Elements: Working Class, Women, Cultural Revival
Moderator: Jane McGaughey

Gavin Foster: The Irish Citizen Army and the Class Politics of the Easter Rising
Founded in 1913 in the context of the great Dublin Lock-Out, but equally reflecting the flourishing para-militarism in Ireland sparked by the Home Rule crisis, the small workers’ militia known as the Irish Citizen Army played a pivotal role in the Easter Rising under the leadership of militant labour organizer/republican- socialist James Connolly. This paper reflects on the brief history of the ICA pre-1916, its role in the Rising, and its dwindling profile in later stages of the Irish Revolution. It asks the question: What does the ICA tell us about the relevance of working- class interests and identities and class conflict dynamics to Ireland’s revolutionary process?

Timothy G. McMahon: “’Not Free Merely, but Gaelic as Well’: Was 1916 a Gaelic Revolution?”
At the graveside of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in 1915, Patrick Pearse declared his desire to see an Ireland that was “not merely free, but Gaelic as well.” Pearse’s role as the titular leader of the Easter Rising further cemented the Gaelic and revolutionary causes in the nation’s historical memory. Indeed, many revolutionaries claimed in statements to the Bureau of Military History and elsewhere that the Gaelic revival had led them to fight for Irish freedom. This paper will question the rhetorical and remembered links between the revival and revolution. Through an examination of contemporary police records, newspapers, and state policies themselves, I will contend that scholars would better understand the place of the language in modern Ireland by recognizing that revolutionaries themselves had only minimal commitment to spoken Irish, utilizing instead its general symbolic cachet with the wider public to gain greater support for political transformation.

Sonja Tiernan: ‘Leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank and buy a revolver’: Women and the fight for Irish independence
The Irish Proclamation first read publicly by Patrick Pearse on Easter Monday, guaranteed ‘religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens.’ The provisional government distinctly acknowledged Irishmen and Irishwomen as equal citizens vowing that a future ‘permanent National Government . . . would be elected by the suffrages of all her men and women.’ Numerous women took active roles to fight for the ideals expressed in the Proclamation during the Easter Rising. This talk examines how and why women were refused an equal position socially, politically and economically in the newly formed Irish Free State after the revolution.

1515: PANEL 3: Canadian Responses to the Rising 
Moderator: Ann Dooley

Patrick Mannion: “From Loyalist Response to Nationalist Memory: Easter 1916 and the Irish in Newfoundland.”
The Newfoundland Irish present a fascinating case within the broader field of early-twentieth century diasporic nationalism. Migration from Ireland to Newfoundland was an overwhelmingly pre-famine phenomenon, peaking in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. By the 1910s, the colony’s Irish population was, in many cases, three or four generations removed from the ancestral homeland. Nevertheless, a profound sense of Irish identity endured – created and nurtured by networks of family, religion, associational life, and education. The Easter Rising prompted a strong response. Within the overriding context of the Great War, the initial reaction was one of shock, horror, and profound loyalty to the Empire. In subsequent years, however, the memory of the Rising took on an increasingly romantic and nationalist tone as a result of both domestic and external political contexts.

Pádraig Ó Siadhail: “‘How could you or I die better?’: Irish-born political Conscription Resistors in Canada in 1918
In this paper, I will present case studies of four Irish-born men who were court-martialed in Ontario in 1918 for refusing to fight for the British Empire in the Great War. One of the four was John Terence MacSwiney, brother of Terence MacSwiney, the senior Irish republican leader who would die on hunger strike in Britain in 1920. All of the court-martialed Irishmen publicly expressed their refusal to don the khaki as a political stand against Britain’s role in Ireland, including its response to the Easter Rising. The details of each man’s case, court-martial, sentencing and imprisonment are interesting in their own right. But their story also highlights the existence of an Irish network and defence fund in the Toronto area that provided support for the imprisoned Irishmen. As such, this paper opens up a new line of enquiry as to how the reaction of some Irish in Canada to World War One was determined not by their Canadian experiences but by political allegiances and events back in Ireland.

Garth Stevenson: Irish-Canadian Politics after the Rising
Irish Republicanism in Canada declined rapidly after the 1860s, in part because Irish immigration to Canada declined and many with republican sympathies left Canada for the United States. After 1914 most Canadians, including Irish Catholic Canadians, supported participation in the war. Hence the initial response to Easter 1916 was hostile, even among pro-Irish Canadians like Wilfrid Laurier. However the executions after the Rising led to a sudden change in opinion in Canada. After 1916 and continuing until the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921, Irish Republican politics revived in Canada, particularly in Montreal. Activists like Katherine Hughes and John Loye and organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Friends of Irish Freedom, and the Self-Determination for Ireland League helped to keep it alive and kept contact with Irish republicans in Ireland and the United States. However, when the Irish civil war started in 1922, most of the activists in Canada supported the pro-treaty side and republicanism declined.

1645: Coffee break

1700: Keynote Address 
Moderator: William Jenkins

Robert Ballagh: Looking Back
Without doubt 2016 has been a great year for looking back in Ireland. Indeed few people could avoid the profusion of commemorations marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. Unquestionably, in most cases, individual approaches to commemoration tell us more about prevailing attitudes today than about historical conditions in Ireland one hundred years ago. Nevertheless the bravery and sacrifice of a heroic generation should be commemorated; however it would be a disservice to their memory if the true motivation behind their actions remains unacknowledged. After all, these people were not merely rebels – they were visionaries. What they desired was not simply a green flag over Dublin Castle or a harp on the coinage. They were calling for a complete transformation of Irish society. The blueprint for that transformation was set out in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and that remarkable document remains the yardstick by which we can and should measure the current state of the nation.

1800: Closing Remarks Ambassador Jim Kelly, Michael Quigley

The Canadian Association for Irish Studies / Association canadienne d’études irlandaises gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance and support of our sponsors.

Conference Committee: 

Coordinator: Michael Quigley
Ottawa: Niall Keogh, Fred McEvoy
Montreal: Jane McGaughey, Gavin Foster
Toronto: William Jenkins 

J.J. LEE is Director of Glucksman Ireland House, and Professor of Irish History at NYU, since 2002. He previously lectured in U.C. Dublin, researched at the Institute for European History, Mainz, and was a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1968-74, until appointed Professor of Modern History at U.C. Cork in 1974. An Eisenhower Fellow, he has held appointments as Visiting Mellon Professor in the University of Pittsburgh, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the LBJ Graduate School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, and other visiting appointments at Colby College, Maine, the EUI Florence, the Austrian Academy, Vienna, the University of Edinburgh, QMC, London, and TCD. His prize-winning Ireland 1912-1985 (Cambridge, 1989) is in its eleventh printing.

MARIE COLEMAN is a Lecturer in Irish history at Queen's University Belfast. She is the author of three books - County Longford and the Irish revolution, 1910-1923, The Irish Sweep: A history of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake, 1930-1987 and The Irish Revolution, 1916- 1923. Her current research focuses on the experience of revolutionary veterans in independent Ireland, with particular reference to the award of pensions, and she is involved in a number of projects dealing with the commemoration of the revolutionary years in the context of post-conflict Northern Ireland.

NIALL KEOGH is a native of Cork; he graduated from University College Cork with a PhD in Irish diplomatic history. He published a monograph on Con Cremin and Irish Foreign Policy. He has taught at Moscow State University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, National University of Ireland Maynooth and the University of Ottawa.

JOHN BORGONOVO lectures in the School of History at University College Cork, and is coordinator of UCC’s Decade of Centenaries program. He had published widely on the Irish Revolutionary period and Ireland’s First World War experience. His books include The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918 (Cork University Press, 2013) and Spies, informers and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin Society': The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920– 1921 (Irish Academic Press, 2007). He is the assistant editor of The Atlas of the Irish Revolution, just published by Cork University Press.

MARGARET WARD is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast. She has a Ph.D. from the University of the West of England. She is a feminist historian, her publications including Unmanageable Revolutionaries: women and Irish nationalism, biographies of Maud Gonne and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and edited works on Irish women’s involvement in nationalist and suffrage movements. She is currently Visiting Fellow in Irish History at Queen’s University, Belfast and a Trustee of National Museums Northern Ireland and a board member of Libraries NI. In 2014 Margaret was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by Ulster University for her contribution to advancing women's equality. She is editing the political writings of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington for publication in 2018.

GAVIN FOSTER is Associate Professor of modern Irish history in the School of Irish Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. His work on the Irish Revolutionary period has appeared in various Irish Studies journals and edited collections. His book, The Irish Civil War and Society: Politics, Class, and Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) was awarded the 2015 James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences by the American Conference for Irish Studies. His current project uses oral history interviews in Ireland and among the Irish Diaspora to explore later-generation memory of the Irish Civil War.

SONJA TIERNAN is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Liverpool Hope University and was the Peter O’Brien Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies at Concordia University (2015-6). Sonja has held fellowships at the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame. She has published on modern Irish and British social history and is a contributor to the Dictionary of Irish Biography. Her publications include Eva Gore-Booth: an image of such politics and The Political Writings of Eva Gore-Booth. Her most recent article, re-examining the legacy of Irish women, was published in The Shaping of Modern Ireland: A centenary assessment (2016).

PÁDRAIG Ó SIADHAIL holds the D’Arcy McGee Chair of Irish Studies and is an Associate Professor in Irish Studies at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax. As part of a project entitled ‘Scairt an Dúchais’ (the call of home), his scholarly publications have focused on members of the Irish diaspora who have made a significant contribution to their ancestral homeland: An Béaslaíoch (2007), a critical biography of Piaras Béaslaí (1881-1965), the Liverpool- born Irish-language writer and Irish Revolution activist, and the original biographer of Michael Collins; a series of articles on James Mooney, the noted American Indian researcher and early Irish folklore scholar; and Katherine Hughes: A Life and a Journey (2014), a biography that chronicles the dramatic career of the Prince Edward Island-born Hughes (1876-1925) and her striking transformation from self-styled Canadian Imperialist to Irish Republican activist.

PATRICK MANNION received his PhD in history from the University of Toronto in September 2013. His dissertation, entitled “The Irish Diaspora in Comparative Perspective: St. John’s, Newfoundland, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Portland, Maine, 1880-1923” was a comparative study of Irish community and identity in those three port cities, focusing particularly on the construction of nationalism in different regional contexts. The revised book manuscript is under review at McGill-Queen’s University Press. Patrick is currently a SSHRC postdoctoral scholar at Boston College.

GARTH STEVENSON is a Professor Emeritus at Brock University and former chairman of the Political Science Department. Educated at McGill and Princeton, he has held full-time appointments at Carleton University and the University of Alberta and has also taught courses at Duke University, York University, and the University of Toronto. He is the author of eight books including Parallel Paths: The Development of Nationalism in Ireland and Quebec, which won the Donald Smiley prize of the Canadian Political Science Association in 2007. His most recent book is Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared.

ROBERT BALLAGH was born in Dublin in 1943. He studied architecture and worked for a time as a professional musician, a postman and an engineering draughtsman. He has been painting professionally since his first exhibition in Dublin in 1969. His work as a painter is represented in many important collections including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, the Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane, the Ulster Museum and the Albrecht Dürer House, Nuremberg. Major survey exhibitions of his work have taken place in Lund, Warsaw, Moscow, and Sofia. In 2006 a career retrospective was staged in the RHA Gallery, Dublin. As a graphic designer, he has produced book covers, posters, limited edition prints, 66 stamps for the Irish postal service and the last Irish bank notes produced by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Robert Ballagh has been an active campaigner for artists’ rights. He was the founding Chairperson of the Association of Artists in Ireland and in 1983 he was elected to the international executive of the International Association of Artists, a UNESCO affiliate of over 80 countries. For 3 years, he served as treasurer to that organization.
In 1991 Robert Ballagh was elected chairperson of the national organizing committee for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the 1916 rising. Also for 10 years, he chaired the national executive of the Irish National Congress a non-party political organization, working for peace, unity and justice in Ireland. He is currently president of the Ireland Institute, a centre for historical and cultural studies and in 2000, he was one of the founders of the organization Le Chéile – artists against racism in Ireland. He is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

Monday 17 October 2016

Anne McConnell-Strong -- Former Eastern Regional Chair

Courtesy A. Reid

Anne McConnell-Strong
May 18, 1934 - October 3, 2016

Born in Co. Galway, Ireland, Anne trained as a nurse in England, and eventually settled in Canada in the 1960s. She quickly became part of the Irish community in North America. In 1978, Anne founded the local chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, was elected chairperson of the Eastern Comhaltas Regional Board in 1988, and spent nearly four decades ceaselessly promoting the development and preservation of Irish traditional music, dance and culture in Canada and the United States.

On October 2nd, she sustained a fall after leaving a Toronto stage, where moments earlier had been bestowed with an appreciation award.  Unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries the following day.

Anyone who was remotely involved in the Irish cultural community in Canada knew and respected Anne for her dedication, her vision and her humanity. She dedicated a large part of her life to advancing the cause of traditional Irish music, dance and entertainment over the past 40 odd years, and we are deeply grateful for her tireless efforts. Her special love was bringing Echoes of Erin to Canada as often as possible and in doing this, she enabled countless hours of entertainment for many people.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to know Anne and to work with her in Comhaltas.

On behalf of the Ottawa Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, we extend our deepest sympathies to Elmer, Ita, Dympna, Fintan, and the family on the death of Anne McConnell-Strong. We made a donation to Martha's Table in her memory. 

Until next time / Go dtí an chéad uair eile!