24 November 2022, 6:00 – 7:30pm AEDT
Prof Chris Morash, Trinity College Dublin
The Ghosts of Catholic Ireland
In 1925, the year before the national Irish broadcaster came into existence, a group of Irish-Americans wrote to the Irish government proposing the construction of a giant transmitter in the shape of a harp on the Hill of Tara in Ireland, with each of its five towers tuned to a different continent, broadcasting a continuous flow of Catholic content. This image can stand for a dominant imagining of Ireland for much of the twentieth century: as a bastion of Catholic belief and teaching in a secularising world. In the past thirty years, however, that image has imploded, and the role of the Catholic Church in almost every aspect of Irish life has receded, to the point at which we can now speak of a post-Catholic Ireland. It has been well established that almost every Irish writer of the twentieth century registered, (if only in opposition), the earlier dominance of the Church in Irish life, with Joyce providing perhaps the most famous instance. But what of Irish writers of the current century? This lecture will look at some of the ways in which the ghosts of Catholic Ireland continue to haunt Irish writing, asking if, in some cases, those ghosts might now even be benign, and capable of being turned to creative uses.
Chris Morash FTCD, MRIA, is the Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing in Trinity College Dublin. His study of W.B. Yeats, Yeats on Theatre, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021 and he has recently been appointed as Series Editor for the Cities of Literature Series for CUP. His own volume for the series, Dublin: City of Literature is scheduled for publication early in 2023. His past publications include Writing the Irish Famine (Oxford, 1995), A History of Irish Theatre, 1601-2000 (Cambridge, 2001), A History of the Media in Ireland (Cambridge, 2009), and Mapping Irish Theatre [with Shaun Richards] (Cambridge, 2013). He contributed to the Irish entry at the Venice Architectural Biennale in 2021, and was invited to curate a series of plays, entitled Unseen Plays, for the Abbey Theatre (also 2021). He chairs the judging panel for the International Dublin Literary Award, the world’s richest prize for a single novel in English.
Brown Theatre, Level 1, Electrical & Electronic Engineering Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville