The Great Famine and its Impacts: Visual and Material Culture

by irishcanadianfamineresearcher


The Great Famine of 1840s Ireland left a profound impact on Irish culture, as recent ground breaking historical and literary research has revealed. Less well documented and explored, however, is the relationship of the Famine and its related experiences (migration, eviction, poverty, institutionalization and urbanization) to the visual and material cultures of Ireland. This conference, which is hosted by Maynooth University and organised as part of the NWO-funded International Network of Irish Famine Studies, aims to consider broadly how the material and visual cultures of Ireland and its diaspora (including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, architecture, film, dance, ritual, musealisation, heritage, archaeology) intersect with the multiple impacts and experiences of the Famine.

Taking a broad approach to the impact of the Famine on visual and material cultures, the conference will bring together scholars from various fields to promote new, cross-disciplinary dialogues and deepen our understanding of the Famine’s cultural history.

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Professor Fintan Cullen, University of Nottingham
Dr Jason King, NUI Galway
Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald, University College Dublin
Professor Chris Morash, Trinity College Dublin
Professor Niamh O’Sullivan, Curator, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University

The conference featured a series of special events and activities, including:

  • A reading by acclaimed Irish author and Aósdana member Evelyn Conlon, whose most recent novel, Not the Same Sky (2013) draws on the social and material history of the Earl Grey-assisted emigration scheme, reimagining the story of three young women from amongst 4,000 Irish girls sent to Australia between 1848-50.
  • A presentation by Moonfish Theatre Company, whose stage adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s Famine novel Star of the Sea has been on a sell-out national tour.
  • A talk by screenwriter and playwright Hugh Travers, Maynooth University’s Screenwriter-in-Residence who has been commissioned to write a sitcom on the Famine for Channel 4.
  • A special tour by curator Donal Maguire of the National Gallery of Ireland’s exhibition The Pathos of Distance, a collaboration with artist Sarah Pierce exploring the visual history of Irish emigration.

The conference took place at Maynooth University from 14-16 of March, and included a conference dinner at historic Carton House.

This conference has been funded by the Netherlandish Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) and Maynooth University.

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