'Machnamh 100' President of Ireland Centenary Reflections - The Final Seminar

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OF CENTENARIES AND THE HOSPITALITY NECESSARY IN REFLECTING ON MEMORY, HISTORY AND FORGIVENESS “In this decade of significant centenaries, we are challenged to engage with our shared past in a manner that is honest, authentic and inclusive, and as might assist a healing of conflicts that cannot be forgotten. The complex events we recall during this decade are integral to the story that has shaped our nation in all its diversity. Issues of the fullness of context, in terms of what has been or is being taken into account or being excluded, cannot morally be avoided. Ethical remembering requires us in particular to shine a light on overlooked figures and events in an attempt to have a more comprehensive, balanced and inclusive perspective on, for example, the independence struggle and the response to it. A central dimension of ethical remembering is a refusal of conscious or unconscious amnesia, not only of persons but events. It requires the inclusion of marginalised voices, the disenfranchised, voices from below in our recollections of the past. It must include the essential part played by women in the period that we commemorate, the role of class, and an openness to stories of ‘the Other’, the stranger, the enemy of yesterday. For the sake of the future we will share, we must be unshackled from the snares of the past. Creating a space for forgiveness is essential. The time has come for an ethics of narrative hospitality with its capacity to replace our past entrenchments, offering an openness to others. In doing so, we may nurture memory and remembrance as a strong foundation of a shared, agreed future.” Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland Uachtarán na hÉireann

The term Machnamh is an ancient Irish concept encompassing reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought. Over the past two years, President Michael D. Higgins has been hosting a series of seminars inviting reflections on the War of Independence, the Treaty Negotiations, the Civil War and Partition. Leading scholars from different backgrounds and with an array of perspectives have shared their insights and thoughts on the context and events of that formative period of a century ago and on the nature of commemoration itself. Through Machnamh 100, President Higgins is facilitating presentations and discussions on specific themes, to explore more fully the various aspects of that period in Ireland’s journey, and its legacy for the societies and jurisdictions that were to emerge subsequently. In Volume 1 of Machnamh 100 – the first three of a series of six seminars, President Higgins invited reflections from a number of scholars focusing on the War of Independence, building on his extensive work on previous events that marked other pivotal moments in our nation’s history, including the 1913 Lockout and the Easter Rising. These contributions are now captured in Machnamh 100, Centenary Reflections, Volume 1, published in November 2021.

In November 2021 the President commenced Part 2 of the Machnamh 100 series of six seminars. These seminars focus on events including the Civil War and the formation of two new administrations on the Island. These proposals, based on recommendations by Prof. Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh (who is the President’s Principal Advisor on the Machnamh 100 series) and agreed by the President, are based on the concept of a series of reflections, initiated and led by An tUachtaráin. The first of these remaining three seminars took place on 25 November, 2021. Titled Settlements, Schisms, and Civil Strife, it involved a consideration of the road to the Treaty and its long-term implications. It also examined the summer of 1921 and what the Truce meant, what prospects it opened, as well as the international aspects of the halt in hostilities. The second of the remaining three seminars took place on Thursday 26 May, 2022. Titled Constitutional, Institutional, and Ideological Foundations: Complexity and Contestation, it considered the constitutional foundations, representative government and electoral systems. The seminar also examined the issue of institutionalising exclusion.



17 November 2022

MEMORY, HISTORY AND IMAGINATION Master of Ceremonies: Dr. John Bowman Principal Speaker: Professor Declan Kiberd Respondents: President Michael D. Higgins Fergal Keane Lelia Doolan Professor Angela Bourke On Thursday 17 November the final seminar filmed at Áras an Uachtaráin will be broadcast on the RTÉ Player. Titled: Memory, History and Imagination, it will feature a lead paper from Professor Declan Kiberd titled: Ideas, Memory, Imagination followed by responses from President Michael D. Higgins, Fergal Keane, Lelia Doolan and Professor Angela Bourke.

Machnamh 100 is an initiative of President Higgins that builds on his extensive work to date during Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations that has examined and explored seminal events such as the Lockout of 1913, the First World War, The Easter Rising, the Flu Pandemic, the election of 1918 and the first Dáil. Machnamh 100 is being supported by the Government and by RTÉ.

SPEAKERS’ BIOS Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, President of Ireland is currently serving his second term, having been first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2018. President Higgins has forged a career as an academic and political representative at many levels, campaigning extensively for human rights, peace and sustainability. He was a member of Dáil Éireann for 25 years, and member of Seanad Éireann for nine years, and Ireland’s first Minister for the Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. President Michael D. Higgins led the commemorations of the “Decade of Centenaries”, marking the centenary anniversaries of some of the seminal events in Ireland’s history. The President attended and spoke at a large number of State and other ceremonial events helping to shape national efforts at exploring and examining the background, impact and contemporary significance of the events being recalled. Since taking office, the President has published three collections of speeches setting out his approach: ‘When Ideas Matter: Speeches for an Ethical Republic’, ‘1916 Centenary Commemorations and Celebrations’, and ‘Reclaiming the European Street: Speeches on Europe and the European Union, 2016-20’.

Dr. John Bowman is a broadcaster and historian. He has presented current affairs and historical programmes on RTÉ radio and television since the 1960s. He is author of Window and Mirror: RTÉ Television, 1961-2011, the first comprehensive history of Irish television. His PhD, De Valera and the Ulster Question: 1917–1973, won the Ewart-Biggs Prize for its contribution to North-South understanding. His latest book, Ireland: the Autobiography, is published by Penguin. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin in 2009 and awarded an Honorary Doctorate by UCD in 2010.

Professor Declan Kiberd teaches at University of Notre Dame (Dublin). He was for many years a Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at UCD and has served on the Board of the Abbey Theatre. Among his books are Inventing Ireland; Synge and the Irish Language; Irish Classics; Ulysses and Us; The Irish Writer and the World; and After Ireland. He coedited (with PJ Mathews) Handbook of the Irish Revival and (with Gabriel Fitzmaurice) The Flowering Tree: Irish-Language Poetry in Translation. He has been a visiting Professor at the Sorbonne and Cambridge University. Fergal Keane has covered conflict for the BBC for more than thirty years including the Rwandan genocide, wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and many others. He has also written several award winning books including Season of Blood (George Orwell prize for political writing) and Wounds, winner of the Irish non-fiction book of the year and the Ewart Biggs Memorial Prize. He has also won a BAFTA and an EMMY and awards from the Royal Television Society, the Overseas Press Club of America, as well as an OBE for services to television journalism. His latest book is The Madness – a Memoir of War, Fear and PTSD published on November 10, 2022.

www.president.ie #Machnamh100

Lelia Doolan has worked as an actor, director and producer in various places including the Globe Theatre, RTÉ, the Abbey Theatre and Bord Scannán na hÉireann. Lelia worked for Combat Poverty in Erris, Mayo, founded with others and attempted to run and teach the first course in film and video in the College of Commerce Rathmines in the early eighties and later in Galway in the then GMIT. Since moving to live in South Galway in the early eighties, she has been involved with various cultural productions, activisms, studies, film festival and Cinemobile activities, cinema building etc. Her writing includes Sit Down and Be Counted (co-authored with Jack Dowling) as well as articles on holy wells and Irish culture. Angela Bourke is Professor Emerita of Irishlanguage Studies at UCD, where she taught for over thirty years. Awarded an NUI Travelling Studentship in Celtic Studies, her research has focussed on oral traditions and cultural history. Books include Caoineadh na dTrí Muire: Téama na Páise I bhFilíocht Bhéil na Gaeilge, The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story, and Maeve Brennan: Homesick at The New Yorker. With seven colleagues she edited vols IV and V of The Field Day Anthology: Irish Women’s Writing and Traditions. She has held visiting professorships and fellowships at universities in the US, UK and Japan, and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

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