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Free lecture from Queens University Belfast

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | February 16, 2021 | No Comment |

About this Event

Dr Noel McLaughlin is a popular music historian and senior lecturer in the Department of Arts at Northumbria Unversity in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. His previous publications include, with Martin Noone, Rock and Popular Music in Ireland: Before and After U2 (Irish Academic Press, 2012). Joanna Braniff is an independent scholar based in Belfast, who works as a freelance author, journalist and media consultant specialising in arts and culture. They are joint authors of How Belfast Got the Blues: A Cultural History of Popular Music in the 1960spublished in December 2020 by Intellect Books in the UK and the University of Chicago Press in the US.

Their book unearths Belfast’s largely overlooked and significant role in the broader relationship between popular music and politics in the ‘most mythologised of decades’. In a forensic cultural history explored through popular music, the authors uncover events that have been hidden from history, with Belfast emerging as far more than another ‘provincial’ city looking on at the momentous events in the decade from the margins. Northern Ireland’s capital comes into focus as a globally connected city,. with a greater influence on the broader 60s narrative of pop and politics than has been previously acknowledged.

This seminar is free and open to all, and will be delivered online via Microsoft Teams. Please register before 11am on Monday 22 February and we will send you a link to participate.

For more information visit us at: https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/IrishStudiesGateway/

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American Conference for Irish Studies statement

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | June 5, 2020 | No Comment |

In response to recent horrific events the protests seeking racial justice, the American Conference for Irish Studies has issued a statement supporting this movement.


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Gladneys in America

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | January 14, 2019 | No Comment |

One of the most satisfying aspects of my job come from the people who seek me out as the director of Irish and Irish American Studies–strangers who are, as the proverb says, friends you haven’t met yet.  Last summer, Janice Sakash invited me to speak at the annual Gladney family reunion dinner, held last year at the parish hall of Old St. Andrew’s on Ashley River Road.  I knew nothing about the Gladneys but gladly agreed to talk about the Irish experience in South Carolina.

Though I know a little more than most on that subject, I am (like Socrates) wise about my ignorance.  I came away from the dinner with a stomach full of fried chicken and knowing a whole lot more than I did when I arrived.

Slemish Mountain, not far from Skerry Parish in Antrim

The Gladneys were Presbyterian Scots who settled in  Kinbally, County Antrim, sometime after the Battle of the Boyne.  In the mid-eighteenth century, they migrated to South Carolina.  Scores of people–more than twenty different families–gather each year from all over the country to celebrate their ancestors and to renew their ties.  Every other year, they descend on Winnsboro, where the old family cemetery is located.

Jane (or Jeannette) Gladney is buried there.  She came with her four Irish-born sons, Samuel (1737-1799), Richard (1741-1793), Joseph (1747-1776), and Thomas (1749-1820), whose graves can also be found in the old cemetery, and the story of their lives and their descendants will fascinate scholars some day–if we can preserve their history.

The Gladney family has already done a ton of that historical work.  (Their website is remarkably various, from recipes to an account, with photo, of the family Bible, printed in Scotland in 1775. If you’re trying to organize a big, extended family, you might check out what the Gladneys have done as a model.)  The crown jewel of their historical and genealogical work is an amazing volume called Gladneys in America, representing an unbelievable amount of careful research compiled by Mildred Lee Gladney Arnold.

Janice Sakash signing a deed of gift to the College of Charleston. “Gladneys in America” is in the foreground.

This past Fall, Janice Sakash, representing all four branches of the Gladney clan, donated a copy of this book to the Addlestone Library, to be added to our nascent Irish Heritage Collection.  The College of Charleston’s Irish and Irish American Studies program is proud to be linked now to this old and distinguished Irish American family.

[Joe Kelly speaking at the 2018 Gladney Family Reunion.]

under: Heritage, Uncategorized

Southern ACIS meeting

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | January 10, 2019 | No Comment |

Click here for a program detailing the 2019 Southern meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies.

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Shaun Doherty

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | December 4, 2018 | No Comment |
Shaun Doherty in Fitzgerald's pub, Glasthule, Dublin, 2018

Shaun Doherty in Fitzgerald’s pub, Glasthule, Dublin, 2018

Shaun Doherty died just before Thanksgiving this year.  He was the first and best friend of Irish and Irish American Studies.

I don’t remember when I first met Shaun.  I thought it was at a screening of The Wind That Shakes the Barley that Moore Quinn arranged on campus, but Shaun’s wife, Eimer Kernan, reminded me that was when I first met her.  Apparently, I’d known Shaun for years already.  It happened sometime back there in the mythic past.  It seems I always knew him.

Shaun had the look of an Irish poet.  Tall, thin, a wood-hard  handshake.  Nothing mystical though or druidic.  He was more like common sense grown into a post oak. Maybe a better comparison is the hardwood cane Shaun carried in the last couple of years.  It was carved out of blackthorne by Willie O’Brien, a friend of Eimer’s father, Desmond Kernan.  O’Brien was a barber with a shop in Goatstown, Co. Dublin. Blackthorne is hardy, and its wood grows harder as it gets older.  The cane is straight and gnarled and hard, and it puts one in mind of sunny seascapes seen from the slopes behind Dún Laoghaire.

Shaun joined several different classes that I taught—from Modern Literature to Irish Studies to First Year Writing.  I can’t tell you how many classes over the years, because his presence became a fixed part of campus.  I am told he was one of the longest-attending students at the College of Charleston.  I believe it.  He was friendly as the park bench that sits outside the English department, and sage as the oaks that give it shade.

He and I are both transplants.  I think our backgrounds made an easy bond between us.  I never told him this, but he might have been my dad’s younger brother.  Our families came from the same place, the New York Irish.  They played stick ball swinging broom sticks for bats.  They practiced fastballs by throwing rocks in the Hudson River.  They watched the professionals at the Polo Grounds.  Shaun was my favorite uncle.

Our talks usually went for an hour or more.  He told me about Vietnam, about corporate America, about the restaurant business, but always about people.  The sergeant who knew how to handle a near race-riot.  There was one story of a corporate executive dressing Shaun down and another guy standing behind the man miming for Shaun, who was about to set the man straight, to keep his mouth closed.  The point of the story was the friend, not the exec.  Discretion on that occasion led to a great job oversees—was that when he went to live in Ireland? I don’t remember. I wish Shaun were here for me to ask.  There’s so much to ask him.

Last year, one of my undergraduate students interviewed him for our new Irish Oral History Project.  I’m so glad he did.  We’ve got about 60 minutes of stories that will soon be available to the public through the Lowcountry Digital Library at CofC.  When I listened to the tape, I jotted down a dozen follow-up questions.  I wanted to ask more about so many things. I miss him.

Shaun had a genius for people—for recognizing and responding to the humanity in others.  Last Spring, one of my young students mentioned that he had served with the Marines in Iraq.  Shaun quietly went up to him after class.  Though more than fifty years separated them, they talked quietly and earnestly, veteran to veteran, brother to brother.  One of my prouder boasts in life is that Shaun thought enough of me to make me a friend.  I’m no Marine. I’d done nothing to earn that bond, but he gave it to me anyway.

In one of my classes we were studying W. B. Yeats, who, because he came of Protestant Ascendency stock, was always trying to prove his Irishness.  “Know that I would accounted be,” he insisted, “True brother of a company/ That sang, to sweeten Ireland’s wrong/ Ballad and story, ran and song.”  I think Yeats’ “To Ireland in the Coming Times” inspired Shaun, who was himself an accomplished poet, to write this:

Not a Gael you say, but

Anglo Saxon to the bone.
Forget you these Sceptered Isles
were one time Gaelic all?

Gael, Northman, Norman, Saxon
mixed on this ancient soil,
though oft in battle toiled.
Did not this blood watered isle
breath into all the notion of herself?
Mystical, shifting layers,
bardic ballad, Nordic rune
mixed, became a single tune.

Yeats caught it all
and put to verse
the mystery of this isle
that has a notion of herself.
Who, though the language fades,
seduces most who shelter here.

Anglo Saxon, by blood maybe,
but as generations passed
the language of the soil took hold
and this “west brit” became
the golden trumpet of her soul.

By such did Yeats prove
Irishness is tethered
to the place, not
in the bone.

It has the rhythm of a Yeats poem, and it’s just as hard.  Rhyming “hold” and “soul” is just like Yeats.  Now, Shaun was a head above the heads of most of my students, and he suspected they might not understand the poem.  Luckily, he provided his own notes to help his classmates.  (Yeats did that too. You can find Shaun’s at the bottom of this tribute.)

I don’t want to explicate the poem now.  But I want to latch on to one thing, that final image, which expresses the generosity I saw in Shaun’s spirit.  Everyone could be his sister or his brother. Or his nephew.  My bones were not tethered to his. He was not my uncle.  I did not have that privilege.  But I was rooted to Shaun, like the tree in another Yeats’s poem and like the oak tree outside my office window, through this dear perpetual place.


Shaun’s notes:

Gael/Gaelic – An early name given to the Irish based on their language, e.g. they spoke Gaelic, as the English spoke English, the French spoke French, etc. Chesterton refers to the “Great Gaels of Ireland” in his epic poem, “Ballad of the White Horse”.

Sceptered Isles – reference to England/Scotland/Wales and Ireland.

Runes – A Germanic alphabet used by Vikings, Angles and Saxons before the adoption of the Latin alphabet. First known inscription on stone 150 AD (Wikipedia).

West Brit – Slang name given by the native Irish to the Anglo Irish Ascendency class. They can be distinguished by their “plumy” accent, similar to the English upper class.




under: In memoriam
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Irish Oral History Project

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | October 25, 2018 | No Comment |

Last Spring, students in CofC’s Irish and Irish American Studies introductory course interviewed fourteen local Irish and Irish Americans. Interviewees came from three categories: folks who grew up in the South; those who migrated to the South from other parts of the U. S.; and those who came here from Ireland.

Most studies of Irish Americans focus on the big population centers, like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Few people have studied what happened to the Irish and what they did when they came to the American South. And when you think of the great libraries in the universities like Boston College, NYU, and Notre Dame, you’ll realize there’s not a whole lot of archival evidence of the Irish experience in the South. The main goal of the project is to preserve those stories–to trace the extraordinary lives of ordinary people who if not ignored have certainly been neglected.

Undergraduate students learned best practices for oral histories, and they each earned certification in human research methods before conducting the interviews. This Fall, a graduate student in English, Sarah Davis, who has a keen interest in Ireland, is preparing those transcriptions for public access through our Lowcountry Digital Archive. We are about two-thirds the way through those transcripts.

In Spring 2019, Joe Kelly will report on preliminary findings at the ACIS South conference, held on our campus.

We’ll begin a second season of interviews in March 2019.

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No Rain in Ireland?

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | September 2, 2018 | No Comment |

Graduate students Madeline Ware and Emily Jaskwich enjoying the Irish weather.

Our students don’t believe it rains in Ireland.  Each May, we counsel them to pack the rain gear.  “Umbrellas are useless,” we caution. “Either the rain comes sideways off the Atlantic, or its a mist hanging in the air and you’re walking through it.”  Bring a good raincoat, we tell them, and waterproof shoes.

CofC students examining an example of a West Cork orthostat in brilliant weather, Maymester, 2018

Then comes the whole of June and hardly a drop from Dublin to Skibbereen.  The only mist we saw came fifteen minutes after arriving at the Cliffs of Moher.  Bad luck that.  When we closed up shop on the 1st of July, several counties were in an incipient drought. Historic weather.  All the news was about measuring soil-moisture–or, rather, the lack thereof.

But the disaster was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for archeologists.  Our own anthropologist, Moore Quinn, who takes students to digs near Cork each summer, told us about neolithic and ironage sites emerging from the earth.  Here’s a report from CBS This Morning.


under: News

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | April 9, 2018 | No Comment |

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St. Patrick’s Day

Posted by: Joseph Kelly | March 18, 2018 | No Comment |

Darby Molony, Barbara Dugan, Niall Cahill, and Hunter House

John and Sophie Woodman, Lynn and Craig Bartosh, and Stephanie Woodman


Many thanks to current students Hunter House, Darby Molony, and Barbara Dugan; and for ex-student Stephanie Glynn-Woodman, who brought the rainbow truck.  The decorations for the 1954 classic Chevy Truck were designed by John Woodman (on the bodhran) and Craig Bartosh (pictured here above the Mayo flag). Driving were Lynn and Sophie Bartosh.


Irish Studies director Joe Kelly posing proudly with the Rainbow Truck

The crowd

The crowd was as good as the parade!

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Posted by: Joseph Kelly | February 18, 2018 | No Comment |

Donegal is a large county on the north-western coast of Ireland. It is located in the province of Ulster, along the Donegal Bay in the North Atlantic. Donegal borders counties Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, and only borders county Leitrim to the south.  Donegal has distinct characteristics that separate it from any other county in Ireland. The name “Donegal” is derived from “Dún na nGall”, which means“home to foreigners”. County Donegal is a very large and famous hub for Christianity. This came to be when St Colmcille was born in Donegal in the year 521 A.D.,  spreading his Christian word and enlightening the people of county Donegal. He is remembered today for continuing around Northern Ireland and eventually onto Scotland, taking the spirit of his birth place with him. Today, county Donegal is home to various attractive tourist destinations, including visiting Tory Island off the coast, and climbing the beautiful Errigal Mountain. County Donegal is also a very entertaining and successful GAA county, bringing home the Sam Maguire Cup twice in the last 25 years.

—Mackenzie Greene

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