The Cumann Merriman Summer School 2011

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Changing Irish Childhoods (An Óige in Éirinn, mar a bhí — mar atá)

17th – 21st August 2011.
Lisdoonvarna, County Clare.
Professor Nóirín Hayes.

Welcome to the School

The School, directed by Professor Nóirín Hayes, will be opened by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, and among the speakers will be Fintan O’Toole (The Irish Times), Professor Sheila Greene (Trinity College Dublin), Doctor Joe Dunne (Saint Patrick’s College Dublin) and Siobhán Parkinson (novelist and Laureate na nÓg).Cumann Merriman is delighted that one of Ireland’s most distinguished poets, Eavan Boland, will read from her work at the School.

Ireland has made a number of very strong commitments to children over the last decade, culminating in the recent appointment of a full Minster with responsibility for children. This year’s School will take the opportunity to consider our vision for children, review what we know about contemporary Irish childhood and reflect on children, past and present, from different perspectives.

Among the ancillary events at the School will be a presentation of their work by the Galway-based group, Jigsaw. This is a youth mental health and well-being service developed under the Headstrong initiative. The presentation will describe how they have made a vision into a reality.

Beidh fáilte romhat!


Cumann Merriman wishes to thank all those who are assisting in the organisation and funding of the 2011 Summer School:


Wednesday 17th

Registration at the Pavilion Theatre.
Opening of the School.
Frances Fitzgerald T.D. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Lecture: Changing Childhoods, by Fintan O’Toole.
Club Merriman: Designated local hostelries.

Thursday 18th

10.00 Seimineáir as Gaeilge 1
Na Naíonraí, mar a bhí, mar atá: sealbhú, saibhriú agus spraoi trí Ghaeilge, with Máire Mhic Mhathúna agus Mairéad Mac Con iomaire.
Cathaoirleach na sraithe: Deirdre Nic Mathúna.
10.00 Seminars in English 1
Between Alexander Pope and Brian Merriman: Robert Buggin’s The Inchanted Garden (1716) and the Debutantes of Limerick, with Michael Griffin.
Strand chairman: Brian Ó Dálaigh.
Cúirt an Mheán-Lae: Poetry Reading with Eavan Boland.
Lecture: Childhood and Adulthood: Boundary Explorations, with Joseph Dunne.
Walking tour of Lisdoonvarna, with Maryangela Keane.
Panel: Beyond Rights for Children.
Speakers: Maria Corbett, Carl O’Brien agus Fergus Ryan.
Chair: Mary O’Rourke.
Club Merriman: In The Barn, Kilfenora. (Bus transfer provided from Lisdoonvarna.)

Friday 19th

10.00 Seimineáir as Gaeilge 2
Ó Shíscéal go Sceonscéal: Éabhlóid Litríocht Ghaeilge na nÓg, with Ríona Nic Congáil.
Cathaoirleach na sraithe: Deirdre Nic Mhathúna.
10.00 Seminars in English 2
Even ‘wilder workhouse girls’: the problem of institutionalization among assisted Irish immigrants in 1870s New Zealand, with Ciara Breatnach.
Strand chairman: Brian Ó Dálaigh.
Cúirt an Mheán-Lae: Poetry Reading with Gabriel Rosenstock.
Special session: Youth Mental Health and Well Being.
(i) Dramatic Presentation by the Youth Advisory Panel, Jigsaw, Galway.
(ii) Talk: Lost Childhoods — Young Lived Lives lost to Suicide 2003–2008: An Arts/Science Collaborative Journey with Séamus Mc Guinness (artist) nd Kevin Malone (psychiatrist).
Book Launch: Sa Tóir ar an Yeití by Gabriel Rosenstock (Cló Mhaigh Eo).
Lecture: Contemporary Irish Childhood, by Sheila Greene and Dympna Devine.
Club Merriman: With the Merriman Céilí Band in the Royal Spa Hotel.

Saturday 20th

10.00 Seimineáir as Gaeilge 3
An Leanbh — Léargas ón mBéaloideas, with Pádraig Ó Héalaí.
Cathaoirleach na sraithe, Deirdre Nic Mhathúna.
10.00 Seminars in English 3
Foundlings, Orphans and Child Poverty in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, with David Fleming.
Strand chairman: Brian Ó Dálaigh.
Cúirt an Mheán-Lae: Poetry Reading with Peter Sirr.
Presentation: Writing for Children. Siobhán Parkinson, Laureate na nÓg, in conversation with Amanda Piesse.
Walking tour of Lisdoonvarna, with Maryangela Keane.
Lecture: Children and the New Media, with Brian O’Neill.
Club Merriman: With the Merriman Céilí Band in the Royal Spa Hotel.

Sunday 21st

Closing of the School, with Michael D. Higgins.

Note* This reading will be in Irish and in English.


Eavan Boland
Distinguished poet and author. Professor of English at Stanford University. She has been writer in residence at Trinity College Dublin and the National Maternity Hospital,Dublin. Her recent books of poetry include New Collected Poems (2008), Domestic Violence, (2007) and Against Love Poetry (2001).
Ciara Breathnach
Lecturer in history at the University of Limerick. She has published on Irish social and economic history from 1820 to 1975, including The Congested Districts Board of Ireland, 1891 – 1923, poverty and development in the West of Ireland (Dublin 2005). Her current research focuses on the social history of medicalisation in Ireland (1860 – 1922).
Maria Corbett
Policy Director with the Children’s Rights Alliance and central to the Alliance’s work in seeking to strengthen children rights in the Constitution. The Alliance, a coalition of over 90 non-governmental organisations, campaigns for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Ireland.
Dympna Devine
Senior lecturer in the School of Education and Interim Director of the Social Science Research Centre, UCD. She lectures in the sociology of education, with a specialist interest in childhood studies and children’s well-being. Widely published in the areas of children’s rights and citizenship and children’s identities / belonging in and through the education system.
Joseph Dunne
Cregan Professor of Philosophy and Education at Dublin City University. Founding Head of Human Development, St. Patrick’s College Dublin, an interdisciplinary subject devoted to study of the human life-span. His publications include Childhood and its Discontents: The First Seamus Heaney Lectures (2002).
Frances Fitzgerald TD
A former social worker and Senator. Is at present Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. She chaired the Council for the Status of Women from 1988 – 1992.
David Fleming
Lecturer in early modern history at the University of Limerick. Author of Politics and provincial people: Sligo and Limerick, 1691 – 1761 (2010). Editor (with Doctor J. Logan) of Pauper Limerick: the register of the Limerick House of Industry to be published shortly. Secretary of the Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society.
Sheila Greene
Professor and Director of the Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin, and the holder of the AIB Chair of Childhood Research. Co-Director of the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland, Growing Up in Ireland, which is being conducted on
behalf of the Government by the ESRI and TCD.
Michael Griffin
Lecturer in eighteenth-century and Irish studies at the University of Limerick. He has published widely on eighteenth-century studies, and Irish writing in English. His current research projects include a study of the beginnings of print culture and Anglophone poetry in Munster in the eighteenth century.
Nóirín Hayes
Developmental psychologist, educationalist, senior lecturer and researcher at Dublin Institute of Technology. She lectures in child development, early childhood education, children’s rights and research methods. A founder member of the Centre for Social and Educational Research (CSER) where she leads a number of research projects in early childhood education and children’s rights. Founder member of the Children’s Rights Alliance.
Michael D. Higgins
A passionate political voice, poet and writer, academic and statesman, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship, champion of creativity within society and a Presidential candidate. He has served at every level of public life in Ireland including as Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. He has a strong association with County Clare.
Maryangela Keane
Born in Charleville, Co. Cork. Now lives in Lisdoonvarna, near the Burren, her area of interest. She has lectured widely on the Burren at home and to academic institutions, The British Library and the New York Metropolitan Museum included. Author of The Burren, (1986).
Mairéad Mac Con Iomaire
Bainisteoir Chomhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta, ag obair sa réimse luathoideachais ó 1978. Is í údar Loinnir, clár oibre don tseirbhís luathoideachais Gaeltachta. Bhí sí ina ball de Choiste Náisiúnta CECDE a chuir an lámhleabhar Síolta don tseirbhís luathoideachais le chéile. Leabhair amhrán agus rannta do pháistí foilsithe aici.
Seamus Mc Guinness
Lecturer in Textiles at GMIT, Galway. His work has been exhibited at a number of solo and collaborative exhibitions and he has also created a number of public and corporate commissions. Has collaborated with the 3Ts (Turn the Tide of Suicide) charity in presenting his artwork “21 Grams”.
Kevin Malone
Professor of Psychiatry and Mental Health Research at UCD and St. Vincent’s University Hospital. He is involved in a number of research projects relating to depression, suicide and suicide prevention. Co-founder of the 3Ts (Turn the Tide of Suicide) charity. Member of the reference group for the Government’s National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention Programme (Reach Out) 2005 – 2014.
Máire Mhic Mhathúna
Léachtóir le hOideachas na Luath-Óige in Institiúid Teicneolaíochta Bhaile Átha Cliath. Thionscain sí taighde ar thógáil clainne trí Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht, ar phleanáil teanga i naíonraí na Gaeltachta agus ar an aistirú ón naíonra go dtí an Ghaelscoil. Tá sí ar bhord stiúrtha Fhorbairt Naíonraí Teo.
Ríona Nic Congáil
Scoláire Iardhochtúireachta de chuid na Comhairle um Thaighde sna Dána agus sna hEolaíochtaí Sóisialta (IRCHSS). Tá sí i mbun taighde ar an Litríocht Ghaeilge do Pháistí ó thús thréimhse na hAthbheochana go dtí gur bunaíodh An Gúm. Buaiteoir Oireachtais,tá dhá leabhar do dhaoine óga scríofa aici. Ina stiúrthóir ar Chumann Scríbhneoirí Úra na Gaeilge.
Deirdre Nic Mhathúna
Léachtóir le Gaeilge i gColáiste Phádraig, Droim Conrach. Is iad na sainréimsí taighde atá aici ná filíocht na seachtú haoise déag, léamh lámhscríbhinní agus eagarthóireacht ar théacsanna iarchlasaiceacha. Tá Deirdre ar Choiste Chumann Merriman agus tá sí ceaptha mar chomhstiúrthóir ar Scoil Gheimhridh Mherriman 2012.
Carl O’Brien
Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He covers a diverse range of issues, including the treatment of minority groups, children’s rights and multicultural affairs. He was previously a News Reporter and Political Correspondent for the Irish Examiner.
Brian Ó Dálaigh
Cláiríneach ó dhúchas. Cáilíochtaí bainte amach aige sa stair i gColáiste na hOllscoile, BÁC agus in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Má Nuad. É ar scor óna phost mar phríomhoide scoile. Cuid mhaith foilsithe aige ar stair agus ar shaíocht Thuamhumhan. Ball de choiste Chumann Merriman.
Pádraig Ó Héalaí
Iar-Léachtóir i Roinn na Gaeilge, Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. Béaloideas na tíre seo a shainréimse léinn agus foilseacháin iomadúla aige ar ghnéithe éagsúla den ábhar sin, creideamh na muintire ina measc.
Brian O’Neill
Head of Research in the Faculty of Arts and Tourism, Dublin Institute of Technology. Recipient of Broadcasting Commission of Ireland Media Research awards in 2007 and in 2008. Previous research commissions include Office of the Minister for Children (2005) for a project on Play and Technology. He is the national contact for EU Kids Online.
Mary O’Rourke
Former teacher, TD and Senator. Leader of Seanad Éireann 2002 – 2007. Served as Minister for Education (1987 – 1991), Minister for Health (1991 – 1992) and Minister for Public Enterprise (1997 – 2002). Successfully chaired the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on children, (April 2010).
Fintan O’Toole
Writer, journalist and political commentator. Assistant editor of, and a columnist with, The Irish Times. He has been drama critic of In Dublin magazine, The Sunday Tribune, the New York Daily News, and The Irish Times and Literary Adviser to the Abbey Theatre. Recent books include Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic (2010).
Siobhán Parkinson
Writes fiction in Irish and in English for children and young people. Has published more than twenty books and her work has been widely translated. Appointed Ireland’s first ‘Laureate na nÓg’, a position which celebrates children’s literature, in 2010.
Gabriel Rosenstock
I gCill Fhionáin, Co. Luimnigh a rugadh é. File agus fear haiku; údar / aistritheoir breis is 150 leabhar, a bhformhór i nGaeilge. I measc na bhfilí atá aistrithe go Gaeilge aige tá beirt dhuaiseoirí Nobel, Günter Grass agus Seamus Heaney, éarlamh Chumann Merriman, chomh maith le scata filí iomráiteacha eile. Is ball d’Aosdána é.
Fergus Ryan
Lecturer in law at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Co-author of two recent reports commissioned by the Irish Human Rights Commission. Recently completed a report for the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network entitled Civil Partnership: Your Questions Answered. Currently Chairperson of One Family, a national charity providing support to one-parent families.
Peter Sirr
Lives in Dublin where he works as a freelance writer and translator. His most recent collection of poems is The Thing Is, published by Gallery Press in 2009, which won the 2011 Michael Hartnett Award. He is a member of Aosdána.

Press release

Date of issue: Monday, 9th August 2011 (12:00 noon)

School Summary

Changing Irish Childhoods: An óige in Éirinn mar a bhí — mar atá
Proffessor Nóirín Hayes.
17th – 21st August 2011 (Wednesday to Sunday).
Lisdoonvarna, County Clare.


The 2011 Merriman Summer School will be opened on Wednesday August 17th by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, with Labour Presidential candidate, Michael D. Higgins giving the closing address on Sunday morning, August 21st. Other participants include academics, journalists, a psychiatrist, a children’s writer, a visual artist, a youth drama group and poets, including Eavan Boland, who will give a reading of her work on Thursday 18th August at mid-day.

Directed by Professor Nóirin Hayes of Dublin Institute of Technology, an expert in child development, early childhood education and children’s rights, the Summer School promises to be an informative and enjoyable event, with its usual mixture of camaraderie, thought-provoking material and good fun. Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole will deliver the opening lecture on Wednesday evening. His theme, which is also the overall theme of the school, is ‘Changing Irish Childhoods’, and the following days offer a wide range of seminars, lectures and debates on the subject.

The afternoon and evening lectures and debates, to be held in Lisdoonvarna’s Pavilion Theatre, are complemented by morning seminars in English and Irish, covering subjects as diverse as Irish workhouse girls in New Zealand in the 1870s, the development of the Naoinrai Gaelacha and the 19th century debutantes of Limerick.

Among the highlights will be the joint presentation by psychiatrist, Doctor Kevin Malone, and visual artist, Seamus Mc Guinness, on young lives lost to suicide in Ireland. McGuiness’s exhibition on the subject will be a powerful and poignant presence throughout the School. A dramatic presentation by the young members of Galway’s Youth Advisory Panel, Jigsaw, will complement this event.

Speakers include Jospeh Dunne, Professor of Philiosphy and Education at Dublin City University (Childhood and Adulthood:Boundary Explorations), Sheila Greene, director of the Children’s Research Centre in Trinity College Dublin and Dympna Devine from UCD’s School of Education and Social Science Research Centre (Contemporary Irish Childhood) and Brian O’Neill, head of research in DIT’s faculty of Arts and Tourism (Children and the New Media). Among the poets and writers will be children’s writer and Laureate na nÓg, Siobhán Parkinson and poets Peter Sirr and Gabriel Rosenstock.

Thursday night’s panel on children’s rights will be chaired by former Minister and Senator, Mary O’Rourke, with participation by Maria Corbett of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Fergus Ryan of DIT’s law department and Carl O’Brien, social affairs corrrespondent of the Irish Times.

Walking tours of Lisdoonvarna and evenings of song and dance at Club Merriman complete the programme, which is open to all, whether for one event or for the duration of the School.