Just a few words about the Irish Conference happening in Lowell this week… It was quite an experience attending day-one of the Irish Conference sponsored by UMass Lowell and Queens University Belfast. Themed “The Irish in Massachusetts: Historical Significance, Lasting Legacy.” The excellent cast of speaker/presenters moved us from 1550 Ireland and pre-colonial America through the 17th Century into the 21st Century exploring migration, relations with native tribes, plantation plans, models and influences, Catholicism, families and individual coming to America, the Great Hunger/Famine, trade, the Civil War, emancipation, the Irish in Massachusetts and Maine, politics and so much more… The last presentation of the day was a panel with a trio of literary figures including well-known Southie writer and teacher Michael Patrick MacDonald of “All Souls” fame; Irish expatriate and writer of fiction and non-fiction Aine Greaney; and Irish immigrant and award-winning playwright Ronan Noone. These articulate authors read from their works, took questions from the eager and attentive audience and discussed their experiences. There was a buzz leaving the room about the quality of the day and the presentations. The focus of day-two is on the Irish in sports; the Irish in Lowell; St. Patrick’s Church and the “dig”; St. Patrick’s Cemetery; and Irish-American Politics in Massachusetts. Chancellor Marty Meehan will moderate the politics panel with another trio ~ former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representative David Bartley and former Mayor of Boston and Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn. Attendees anticipate another interesting day immersed with the Irish – with a very local flavor. (Note ~ many attendees moved on the The Old Court for “An Evening of Music and Song” with WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan from a “Celtic Sojourn”…)
Below ~ Irish and Irish American Authors At the Irish Conference in UMass Lowells Inn & Conference center late this afternoon – Southie’s Michael Patrick MacDonald of “All Souls” fame; Irish expatriate writer Aine Greaney; Irish immigrant and playwright Ronan Noone – after they read and discussed their work.