The Cumann Merriman Summer School 2014

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Emotional Life in Ireland.
An tAnam Mothála in Éirinn.

13th to 17th August
(Wednesday to Sunday).
Ennis, County Clare.
Professor Patricia Coughlan.

Welcome to the School

At this year’s Merriman Summer School in Ennis, County Clare social historians, writers, ethno-musicologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, journalists, and critics will explore topics such as inherited understandings of emotional life and ways of transacting emotion; how a secular psychology emerged in Ireland; mothers and emotional formation; family and emotion; gender, sexualities and emotion; mental distress, social control and incarceration; self-expression, repressions and resistances; “the unsayable”: trauma and trajectories towards recovery through speech; emotion and the literature of emigration; feeling and the Irish song tradition.

A morning seminar series in English will focus on “Reading Edna O’Brien”, and one in Irish on aspects of emotion in Ní Dhomhnaill, Ó Criomhthain, and Mac Grianna.

Beidh fáilte romhat!

Professor Patricia Coughlan,
Director of the 2014 Cumann Merriman Summer School.


Cumann Merriman wishes to thank all those who are assisting in the organisation and funding of the 2014 Summer School:


Note: It is not necessary to register for the whole School; anyone wishing to just turn-up for individual sessions will be very welcome.


All events except Club Merriman will take place at Glór in Ennis town.

glór box office

  • During this year’s School, tickets for all our events will be available from Glór as well as from Cumann Merriman directly.
  • The Glór box office can be contacted on 00 353 65 684 3103 or at

Wednesday 13th

Opening of the School.
Lecture: Emotion: Bringing it all to mind in 21st century Ireland by Professor Jim Lucey.
Club Merriman.
In local hostelries

Thursday 14th

10.00 Seimineár 1
“Trí anam an duine” agus filíocht Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, with Rióna Ní Fhrighil.
11.00 Seminar 1
Reading Edna O’Brien 1, with Ellen Mc Williams.
Cúirt an Mheán-Lae: Poetry Reading with William Wall.
The unsayable: the role of literature in mental health, with Carlo Gébler.
Emotional life in Irish vernacular culture, with Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.
Fáiltiú for Summer School attendees.
Music by Jaskane Café Trio.
Panel: Emotion in the Irish song tradition: narratives and performances.
Lillis Ó Laoire, Méadhbh Nic an Airchinnigh and Deirdre Ní Chonghaile.
Club Merriman.

Friday 15th

10.00 Seimineár 2
Fear cliste chun gach gnótha: Tuiscintí Thomáis Uí Chriomhthain air féin, ar a mhuintir agus ar nádúr an duine, with Deirdre Nic Mhathúna.
11.00 Seminar 2
Reading Edna O’Brien 2, with Ellen Mc Williams.
Cúirt an Mheán-Lae with Paula Meehan.
Young men, alcohol & emotion: a Wasted generation?, with Brian O’Connell.
The reconstructed masculine: problems of rage and empathy, with Theo Dorgan.
“There’s no way you would tell out those things”: exploring emotion in older Irish women’s accounts of sexual knowledge and experience, with Máire Leane.
“Divorce Irish Style”: voices of deserted wives and husbands in 20th-century Ireland, with Sarah Anne Buckley.
Gender and alcohol use: the shaping of young adults’ sexual scripts, with Pádraig Mac Neela.
Club Merriman.

Saturday 16th

10.00 Seimineár 3
“You must have no picture of men before your eyes”: Seosamh Mac Grianna ag cosaint a anama, with Fionntán de Brún.
11.00 Seminar 3
Reading Edna O’Brien 3, with Ellen Mc Williams.
Cúirt an Mheán-Lae: Poetry Reading with Bernard O’Donoghue.
A vernacular psychotherapy? Trauma and fairy legend, with Professor Angela Bourke.
The institutionalisation of emotion and mental distress in Ireland, with Damien Brennan.
“Undressing My Mother”: rethinking Irish motherhood, with Moynagh Sullivan.
Irish men and emotion: an alternative history, with Paul Ryan.
Emotional life in Ireland: looking back and looking forward, with Patricia Coughlan.
Club Merriman.

Sunday 17th

Film (Irish première).
I Hear Fish Drowning, by Sarah Strong.
Sarah introduces and shows her new 21-minute film, co-directed with John Hodge.
A Q&A session follows.


Professor Angela Bourke
Angela writes in Irish and English and was joint editor of The Field Day Anthology, vols 4 and 5: Irish Women’s Writing and Traditions. Her own 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. Is ollamh emeritus le Léann na Gaeilge i UCD í, agus ball d’Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann.
Doctor Damien Brennan
Damien, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, TCD, trained and worked as a psychiatric nurse in Ireland. His PhD at the TCD Sociology Department detailed and critiqued mental hospital use in Ireland. His work is focused on the sociology of health and illness, particularly mental health. His recent book, Irish Insanity 1800–2000 (Routledge, 2013), demonstrates that by the 1950s Ireland had the world’s highest rate of mental hospital residency.
Doctor Sarah-Anne Buckley
Sarah-Anne lectures in the History Department, NUI Galway. Her research centres on the history of childhood and child welfare in Ireland, on women, and on welfare and adolescence. Her monograph, The Cruelty Man: Child Welfare, the NSPCC and the State in Ireland, 1889–1956 appeared in 2013. She has just begun work on the history of youth and youth culture in Ireland.
Professor Patricia Coughlan
Patricia, Emerita Professor, School of English, UCC, writes, lectures and broadcasts on Irish literature. Publications include the edited volume Spenser and Ireland; Modernism and Ireland: the Poetry of the 1930s (with Alex Davis); Irish Literature: Feminist Perspectives (with Tina O’Toole), and many essays and articles. During the 2000s she led a State-funded research project on women in Irish society. She is currently completing a book on selfhood and gender in contemporary Irish literature.
An Dochtúir Fionntán de Brún
Léachtóir Sinsearach le Gaeilge, Ollscoil Uladh Fionntán, stiúrthóir an B. Eal. sa Ghaeilge, Campas Bhéal Feirste, agus ball de phainéal eagarthóirí agus de choiste Chumann Cultúrtha Mhic Reachtain. Údar Seosamh Mac Grianna: an Mhéin Rúin, Litir ó mo Mháthair Altrama agus Scéalta Eile; eagarthóir ar Belfast and the Irish Language, comheagarthóir Éigse Loch Lao 1 ┐ 2. Ar na hailt is déanaí uaidh tá “Temporality and Irish Revivalism: Past, Present and Becoming”, New Hibernia Review (2013).
Theo Dorgan
Theo is a poet, novelist, prose writer, editor, translator, broadcaster, librettist, and documentary scriptwriter. An Aosdána member, Theo won the 2010 O’Shaughnessy Prize for Poetry. His five collections include Greek (2012); a new volume, Nine Bright Shiners, appears this autumn. Edited works include Foundation Stone: Notes towards a Constitution for a 21st-Century Republic, Irish Poetry Since Kavanagh and, with Gene Lambert, Leabhar Mór Na hÉireann/The Great Book Of Ireland. Two prose accounts of crossing the Atlantic under sail won acclaim, as did his first novel, Making Way (2013).
Carlo Gébler
Carlo has taught creative writing at QUB and TCD and is currently writer-in-residence in HMP Maghaberry. Author of seven novels, most recently How to Murder a Man (1998) and The Dead Eight (2011), he also writes non-fiction, including memoir and history. His play 10 Rounds (2002) was shortlisted for the Ewart-Biggs Prize, and his children’s book Caught on a Train (2001) for a Bisto prize. His documentary film Put to the Test won a Royal Television Society award (1999). He lives in County Fermanagh.
Máire Leane
Máire is Senior Lecturer in social policy and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, CACSSS, UCC. Research interests include the social construction and relation of sexuality and womanhood, and how power relations, manifest in public policies, are challenged through resistance and activism. She gathers accounts of various experiences in women’s lives, to inform critiques of legislation, policy and practice. Recent publications include “Embodied Sexualities: Exploring Accounts of Irish Women’s Sexual Knowledge and Experiences 1920–1970”, in Sexualities and Irish Society: A Reader (2014) co-edited with Liz Kiely.
Professor Jim Lucey
Jim is Medical Director of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Dublin, since 2008, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at TCD. He has worked for over twenty-five years with patients suffering from mental health problems. In addition to medical management, he maintains his clinical practice at St Patrick’s, where he specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and management of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders. He gives public lectures and broadcasts regularly on mental health matters, featuring on “Today with Sean O’Rourke”, and is author of In My Room (2014).
Doctor Pádraig Mac Neela
Pádraig is a lecturer at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. His involvement in the PhD in Child and Youth Research offered at NUIG, combined with research interests in perceptions of alcolol use, community-engaged research, and voulenteerism, underpin his work on how young people make sense of their social environment and engage in identity work. His presentation to the School draws on these interests, focussing on a project he conducted recently with Rape Crisis Network Ireland on how young people understand sexual violence and consent.
Doctor Ellen Mc Williams
Ellen, Lecturer in English Literature, University of Exeter, is author of Women and Exile in Contemporary Irish Fiction (2013), Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman (2009), and essays and articles on 20th-century writers including Edna O’Brien. With Bronwen Walter she co-edited New Perspectives on Women and the Irish Diaspora for Irish Studies Review (2013). Research awards include a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship (2011) and a Fulbright Scholar Award (2012).
Paula Meehan
Paula, Ireland Professor of Poetry 2013–2016, was born and reared in north inner-city Dublin and spent her teenage years in Finglas. She studied at TCD and Eastern Washington University and has published six award-winning collections of poetry, including the acclaimed Painting Rain (2009). She has written plays for adults and children. Music for Dogs: works for radio collects three plays concerned with suicide during Ireland’s boom years. Versions of Paula’s poetry have appeared in many languages. Mysteries of the Home (2013) reprints a selection of key 1980s and 1990s work.
Doctor Deirdre Ní Chonghaile
Deirdre, musician, broadcaster, award-winning blogger former Alan Lomax Fellow, Library of Congress and NEH Keough Fellow, Notre Dame, is IRC Postdoctoral Fellow, NUI Galway, working with Lillis Ó Laoire on an edition of Aran Islands songs. Her forthcoming book on music-collecting in Ireland prompted further work on Irish-speaking immigrants’ cultural lives in North America, where they sustained their native song tradition. Deirdre was Musical Director for the IFI’s touring show “Journey to Aran” (2011).
An Dochtúir Rióna Ní Fhrighil
Is léachtóir le Gaeilge í Rióna in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. Is í údar an leabhair Briathra, Béithe agus Banfhilí: Filíocht Eavan Boland agus Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (2008) agus eagarthóir an chnuasaigh aistí Filíocht Chomhaimseartha na Gaeilge (2010). Bhí sí ina comheagarthóir ar na cnuasaigh Aistriú Éireann (2008) agus Ó Theagasc Teanga go Sealbhú Teanga (2009). Tá sainspéis aici san fhilíocht chomhaimseartha agus i gcúrsaí critice, i gcúrsaí aistriúcháin agus sa teangeolaíocht fheidhmeach.
An Dochtúir Méadhbh Nic an Airchinnigh
Méadhbh graduated BA in Music and Irish (2004) and MA in Irish (2006), from UCC. She won a Fulbright scholarship to teach Irish for two years at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas. Méadhbh completed a PhD on “Caointeoireacht na Gaeilge” (Irish keening), with Lillis Ó Laoire (2012). She was Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at NUI Galway where she designed The Foundations of Irish Culture website. Also a traditional singer, she currently teaches Irish at UCC.
An Dochtúir Deirdre Nic Mhathúna
Is léachtóir i Roinn na Gaeilge, Coláiste Phádraig, í Deirdre. Is iad na príomhréimsí taighde atá aici ná traidisiún na lámhscríbhinní, cultúr an chló, filíocht Phiarais Feiritéar agus scéalta beatha na Gaeilge. Tá sí ina ball de bhord eagarthóireachta Studia Hibernica, ina Rúnaí ar Chumann Merriman agus ina Cisteoir Idirnáisiúnta ar an gComhdháil Mheiriceánach do Léann na hÉireann (ACIS).
Doctor Lillis Ó Laoire
Lillis teaches folklore and culture in Irish and was the Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, at NUI Galway from 2010 to 2014. He has written about emotion in traditional song, focusing on Tory Island, County Donegal and on the singing of Galwayman Seosamh Ó hÉanaí (Joe Heaney). His Heaney biography, Bright Star of the West (OUP, 2011), co-written with Sean Williams, won the 2012 Society for Ethnomusicology Alan P. Merriam Prize for best monograph. He is currently researching the field diaries of Seán Ó hEochaidh. Lillis is a prize-winning traditional singer.
Brian O’Connell
Brian, from Ennis, is a journalist, author and broadcaster. His weekly reports on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke cover diverse issues. Shortlisted for two PPI Radio Awards (2013), he won News Story of the Year for his report on two Polish men forced to live in public toilets in Ennis. Brian’s book Wasted (2009) explored Ireland’s problematic relationship with alcohol. Current projects include a television series on teenage addiction and a radio series on a century’s change in rural Ireland.
Bernard O’Donoghue
Bernard, from North Cork, emigrated to Manchester in his teens. He taught medieval English at Oxford and is a Fellow of Wadham College. A distinguished poet, with six main poetry collections since 1992 and a Faber Selected Poems (2008), his awards include the Whitbread Prize; Farmers Cross (2011) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. He is also a poetry critic and editor, and made an acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2006).
Doctor Paul Ryan
Paul lectures in the Sociology Department, NUI Maynooth. He specialises in the sociology of personal life, has published widely on issues of intimacy and sexuality in Ireland, and is author of Asking Angela: an intimate history of Irish lives (2012). Current work includes an EU-funded project on regulating prostitution policy. Paul contributes to radio and television debates on proposed policy change in Ireland.
Doctor Moynagh Sullivan
Moynagh, lecturer in the School of English, Media and Theatre Studies, NUI Maynooth, directs the MA on Gender and Sexuality in Writing and Culture. She has published widely on psychoanalysis, contemporary poetry, modernism and postmodernism, gender studies, motherhood, and popular culture. She co-edited (with Borbála Faragó) Facing the Other: Interdisciplinary Studies in Race, Gender and Social Justice in Ireland (2009); (with Wanda Balzano) “Irish Feminisms”, an Irish Review special issue (2007); and (with Balzano and Anne Mulhall) Irish Postmodernisms and Popular Culture (2007).
William Wall
William is a novelist, poet and short story-writer. He has published four novels, three collections of poetry and one of short fiction. His novel This Is the Country (2005) was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for two other awards. RTE’s Book on One serialised his short-story collection No Paradiso (2006). His most recent poetry collection is Ghost Estate (Salmon, 2011). His work has been translated into many languages and he translates from Italian.
Sarah Strong and John Hodge
Sarah and John are artists whose work includes painting, installation, performance and film. Daughter of poet Eithne and psychoanalyst Rupert Strong, Sarah has facilitated art projects and had exhibitions including Raw Art (2004), London Irish Women’s Centre (2011), Bath Spa University (2012), Mind Yourself (2013). Sarah and John are both graduates in fine art and architecture from St Martin’s and the Architectural Association. A haunting mosaic of images shifting between Ireland and London, past and present, their film explores migration, the mother-daughter relationship and the loss of a mother tongue.

Press release

Date of issue: Friday, 12th July 2013 (12:00 noon)

School Summary

Ireland North and South: two societies growing apart?
Andy Pollak.
Wednesday 14th – Sunday 18th August 2013.
Lisdoonvarna, County Clare.


This year’s School which, as usual, will be a thought-provoking and enjoyable mix of lectures and seminars, poetry and music, will take a close look at politics, society and culture in the two Irelands over the past 15 years since the Good Friday Agreement. It is directed by Andy Pollak of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh.

Among the questions a range of distinguished speakers from both Irish jurisdictions will address are: Are the two societies in Ireland very slowly moving closer as the Good Friday Agreement intended or — as the Summer School’s title provocatively suggests — moving apart? Do they function in rather different worlds: the North struggling with its ancient bugbears of sectarianism and division, the South consumed by debt and austerity?  What are the implications of this for the nationalist aspiration of unity by consent? Are most people in the South now totally ‘switched off’ from the North and (if so) what are the future implications of this for both societies? Is there now, particularly among younger people, a kind of Southern Irish identity that excludes the North? Is there an emerging Northern identity? And on the international front: What would be the implications for both parts of the island if the UK were to leave the EU and Ireland were to stay in? What are the implications for the island of Ireland of moves towards Scottish independence?

Among the speakers are Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin, former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sir Ken Bloomfield, Marian Harkin MEP, Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke, Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long, director of the Irish School of Ecumenics Geraldine Smyth and journalists Fintan O’Toole and Dan O’Brien.

Cultural highlights of this year’s School include an evening of poetry with Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and his friend and fellow poet, Michael Longley; mid day readings by poets Leanne O’Sullivan and Gearóid Mac Lochlainn; and a concertina recital by Jack Talty and Cormac Ó Beaglaoich. And of course there’s singing and dancing at Club Merriman in the evenings.

There is no need to pre-register for the School, which is open to everyone. People may register for the full School but are also welcome to attend individual events. Those coming for a few days are strongly advised to book accommodation in advance.