M. Teresa Caneda-Cabrera
University of Vigo, Spain | Published: 17 March, 2024 | Views:
ISSUE 19 | Pages: 290-308 | PDF | DOAJ | https://doi.org/10.24162/EI2024-12847

Creative Commons 4.0 2024 by M. Teresa Caneda-Cabrera | This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged for access.


Against the background of 2022, a year characterised by the incessant celebration of anniversaries and commemorative events in the context of Irish culture, one would be inclined to think that 2023 would have been a somewhat quieter year. Yet, a lessening of activities is nowhere to be found in the case of Irish Studies in Spain. Rather, the international publications that saw the light precisely on this year, as well as the vast array of lively and thought-provoking gatherings on an astonishingly varied range of topics organised by different individuals in numerous institutions, clearly demonstrate the vitality, plurality, openness, and originality which currently define the field of Irish Studies across the country. The year had a vibrant start with the celebration of the VI International Seminar on Irish Studies: “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Ireland through its Music, History, Art and Literature” hosted by the Irish Studies Circle at the University of Granada (January 25-27), renowned for its interdisciplinarity and strong and inspirational team of scholars. Keynote speakers included the Irish poetry scholar Ríona Ní Fhrighil (University of Galway) and the environmentalist and documentary maker Eoin Warner (University of Galway) as well as the traditional musician Desmond Wilkinson and singer and song-writer Glen Hansard. The academic programme consisted of round tables and themed panels with the participation of researchers from the Universities of Granada, Almería, Zaragoza and Lleida and featured a reading by the poet Theo Dorgan, chaired by Pilar Villar-Argáiz, under the auspices of the MA Programme of English Literature and Linguistics of the University of Granada and thanks to the collaboration between the Irish Studies Circle and EFACIS.

Typically, the month of March tends to be a lively period with the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day serving as a touchstone for the organisation of a broad range of Irish Studies-related activities. At the University of Almería, researchers from the “The And-Mitchell Project”, coordinated by José Francisco Fernández and funded by the Regional Government of Andalucía, put together a stimulating conference on the interesting topic of “Irish Writers of the 1930s: The International Dimension” (March 16-17). The list of plenary speakers included Deirdre F. Brady (MIC, University of Limerick), Joe Cleary (Yale University) and Eibhear Walshe (UCC). Discussions focused on the response to international politics and the concern with artistic innovation of the so often neglected Irish writers of the “Red Decade”. The social programme pertinently included a visit to Almería’s air raid shelters, an intricate series of underground galleries designed to safeguard human lives during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). At the University of La Rioja, the Centre of Irish Studies Banna/Bond (EFACIS) held its VI International Seminar on Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish Itinerary 2023) “Elements of Aesthetics in Constructing Form and Identity” (14-15 March), coordinated by Melania Terrazas Gallego. The rich programme featured speakers M. Amor Barros del Río (University of Burgos), Maite Escudero Alías (University of Zaragoza) and Neil Sammells (Bath Spa University) with talks on the work of writers Sally Rooney, Claire Keegan and Oscar Wilde respectively and included the concert Aige Baile sna hAmhráin/A Home Within My Songs with Katerina García and Pádraig Ó Liatháin. The exciting social programme offered the screening of “Cantiga I: Tonnta Farraigí Vigo”, a short musical film based on the iconic medieval poem in the Galician language “Ondas do mar de Vigo”, with Liam Ó Maonlaí and Katerina García, directed by Jaro Waldeck. Irish music and dance also featured prominently in the celebrations organised by The Circle of Irish Studies at the University of Granada in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland and the City Council (13-20 March). One of the highlights of the festive programme was, doubtless, the performance by the new Céilí Band of the University of Granada. One more year, on Saint Patrick’s Day, the AEDEI community welcomed a new issue of Estudios Irlandeses, number eighteen. The former editorial team led by Marisol Morales Ladrón must be congratulated on the publication of another stimulating volume which included fifteen articles on a rich variety of topics, writers and genres, an interview, a translation, a think piece and the usual sections on “the year in review” in Spain and around the world, and two more sections on Irish film and media studies and Irish film and television.

On April 22nd, Pilar Villar-Argáiz participated in the third “Global Irish Civic Forum” at Dublin Castle, hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Micheál Martin, Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Defence. In her capacity as chairperson of AEDEI and on behalf of the Irish Embassy in Spain, she joined representatives from Ireland, New Zealand, and Dubai, for a discussion on the Irish abroad. In May, the Franklin Institute of North American Studies at the University of Alcalá hosted the annual symposium of the Spanish James Joyce Society fittingly devoted to James Joyce’s Atlantic (inter)connections with North America. Of course, as far as conferences are concerned, the annual AEDEI Conference continues to be the one that generates most interest among Irish Studies scholars not only in Spain but elsewhere, as demonstrated by the record number of participants in the 21st International AEDEI Conference on “Violence: Repercussion, Resistance and Representation in Irish Society and Culture” held at the University of Valencia (31 May, 1-2 June). More than eighty papers were distributed in approximately thirty panels focusing on violence (denounced, revised, and resisted) and representing the work on Irish Studies being done at many relevant academic institutions throughout Spain and Portugal, France, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and Ireland (North and South). María Gaviña-Costero and her team managed to assemble an exciting conference programme, which appropriately grouped papers together thematically and featured two plenary lectures on the topic of violence and women. Eamon Maher (TUD) provided a series of relevant reflections on the intricacies of Catholicism and violence in the fiction of contemporary women writers and Lisa Fitzpatrick (Ulster University) interestingly explored how a selection of “gendered” plays and performances capture women’s experiences of various kinds of violence in Northern Ireland. The programme also included the readings of award-winning playwright Marina Carr and playwright and short story writer from Belfast, Rosemary Jenkinson (thanks to the support of the EFACIS Irish Itinerary) and the book launches of Telling Truths: Evelyn Conlon and the Task of Writing (with the presence of the author) and The Poets and Poetry of Munster: One Hundred Years of Poetry from South Western Ireland. Apart from the enticing academic programme, delegates were treated to several enjoyable social events such as the reception traditionally offered by the Embassy of Ireland, with the participation of the Ambassador, his excellency Mr. Frank Smyth, whose warm words were reciprocated by the welcoming speeches of AEDEI chairperson Pilar Villar-Argáiz, organiser María Gaviña-Costero and local authorities and university representatives. Delegates strolled through the beautiful Botanic Gardens in animated conversation while Irish music was played in the background and tapas and wine were served on a lovely Mediterranean evening. A most wonderful start for a splendid three-day conference!

As mentioned, the vitality of Irish Studies in Spain is clearly illustrated by the numerous and varied events organised across different geographical areas and institutions. The school year closed at the Amergin Institute of the University of A Coruña with the II Festa AMERGIN (30 June-1 July), a tribute to the links between Galicia and Ireland with round tables, poetry readings and plenty of music. Also on the Atlantic coast, Irish Studies at the University of Vigo resumed its activities in October with a two-day Seminar co-organised with the research project INTRUTHS2: Articulations of Individual and Communal Vulnerabilities in Contemporary Irish Writing. The programme featured the talks “Vulnerability, Resilience and Resistance in the Work of Contemporary Women Poets: Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan” by Pilar Villar-Argáiz (University of Granada) and “Resisting Magdalen Vulnerability in Ireland: An Affective Turn in Claire Keegan’s Small Things like These” by Auxiliadora Pérez-Vides (University of Huelva). Only a few weeks later, I was delighted to host a conversation with writer Evelyn Conlon who offered her insights “on the task of writing”, in her typically witty and humorous tone, much to the delight of the students from my course on Irish Literature and Society. As has been the case in previous years, the scholarship of AEDEI members has been represented at a myriad of national and international event such as the 32 Encuentros James Joyce, the 2023 EFACIS Conference, the 2023 ABEI Symposium, the EFACIS Irish Itinerary Podcasts and the Intersectional Humanities Seminar Series (Maynooth University), to name but a few.

A significant number of publications on a diversity of topics saw the light this past year. These include a special issue of Estudios Irlandeses devoted to “Enlightenment Legacies”. This issue (18.2), guest-edited by James Ward (Ulster University) and Joe Lines (Bilkent University), features a series of articles, poems and discussions which address the continuing relevance to modern Irish culture of the period and movement known as “the Enlightenment”. As the guest-editors explain in the introduction and as shown by the varied range of topics covered by contributors, Enlightenment themes and values continue to shape contemporary Ireland in ways both “unexpected and unignorable”. This special issue is also the result of the rigorous and committed work of the new editorial team led by general editor Margarita Estévez- Saá (University of Santiago de Compostela) with managing editors José Carregal-Romero (University of Huelva), Alfred Markey (University of León) and Noemí Pereira-Ares (University of Santiago de Compostela).

The year has been specially fruitful as regards edited volumes and book publications including, apart from the titles reviewed in this section, the multi-author volume of essays The Poets and Poetry of Munster: One Hundred Years of Poetry from South Western Ireland; the monograph authored by Madalina Armie The Irish Short Story at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Tradition, Society and Modernity (Routledge); Postcolonial Settings in the Fiction of James Clarence Mangan, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker: Strange Surroundings, by Richard Jorge, published in the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature series of Palgrave Macmillan; The Great Pretenders: Genre, Form, and Style in the Film Musicals of John Carney by Carlos Menédez Otero, which has recently come out in the “Reimagining Ireland” Peter Lang series and the translation, and edition of Samuel Beckett’s Watt by José Francisco Fernández. Congratulations to all authors and editors!

I remain most grateful to the five readers that have generously accepted to write the reviews that follow. It is perhaps not only happy coincidence but poetic justice that precisely in 2023, a year of healthy ebullience for Irish Studies in Spain, founder of AEDEI, Professor Inés Praga Terente, received a heartfelt tribute at the University of Burgos. Doubtlessly, the huge passion for her work, which she referred to during her appreciation speech, is a treasured legacy that has been passed down to the new generations of Irish Studies scholars in Spain.