Irish Renaissance Seminar at UCD – “Conflict and Contestation in the Early Modern World “

The first meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar for 2017 will be held on Saturday 22nd April in the School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin.

The theme for this meeting is Conflict and Contestation in the Early Modern World. The meeting will convene in Room J207-8, John Henry Newman Building, UCD, and the schedule is as follows:

1-1:30pm: Welcome

1:30-3:00pm: Panel
Chair: Dr Jane Grogan

Dr Marc Caball (UCD): ‘Hugh O’Neill and his Gaelic and Renaissance Cultural Context’

Professor Andrew Hadfield (Sussex): ‘James Shirley’s The Politician: Anglo-Irish Literature and Politics in the 1630s’

Dr Ann-Maria Walsh (UCD): ‘The Boyle Sisters and the Familial Correspondence Network: A Life-Line in Times of Civil Strife and Beyond’

3:00-3:30pm: Refreshments

3:30-4:30: Keynote
Chair: Dr Colin Lahive

Professor Nicholas McDowell (Exeter): ‘The Poetics of Civil War: Shakespeare to Marvell (to W.B.Yeats)’

4:30-5:00: Roundtable
Convener: Dr Naomi McAreavey

Early Modern Studies in Ireland: Current Locations, Future Directions

6:30: Dinner

The event is generously supported by the School of English, Drama and Film, UCD, and the Society for Renaissance Studies.

For further details on this meeting of the IRS, contact Dr Colin Lahive (



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Report – Irish Renaissance Seminar at the University of Limerick, 5th November 2016


Guest report by Dr Carrie Griffin

The Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick, was delighted to welcome delegates and speakers to the autumn meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar, held for the first time at the University of Limerick. We gathered on a beautiful, crisp Saturday in UL’s Kemmy Business School for an afternoon of papers on the theme “Early Modern Otherness: Outlaws, Exiles, Outsiders”.


Our three-paper panel session opened at 1pm with Dr Clodagh Tait, a lecturer in the History Department at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and a member of the executive committee of the Limerick Centre for Early Modern Studies. Clodagh’s paper, entitled “Outlawed Emotions: Lordly Rage and its Consequences in Early Modern Ireland”, was concerned with what the State Papers can tell us about the language around reports of emotional outbursts, cursing, oaths, and verbal violence, in particular focusing on Turlough Luineach, seemingly renowned for overawing others through rage and violent language. She argued that our sense of an idealised Irish lord, an impression formed from the honour values associated with that community and the praise-poetry composed for them, might in fact be challenged by this evidence, which seems to have more to do with emotional responses in a predominantly “face-to-face society”.


Dr Clodagh Tait


The Gaelic lords and the peculiar nuances of Bardic poetry were the subject of the second paper in this panel. Dr Gordon Ó Riain’s paper “A Fifteenth-Century Ulster Poet in Exile”, traced the fortunes of Conchubar, a poet exiled by his patron ÉinrÍ (one of the O’Neill of TÍr Eoghain). From his uncertain position as an outcast in Connacht, the poet composed a poem that includes a warning of an impending full satire; this warning found formal expression in the poem in a tréfocal, and its inclusion augments the kind of praise offered by the poet in this context.

Finally in this session Evan Bourke, a PhD researcher with the RECIRC Project, NUIG, presented a paper entitled “The ‘Burden[some] Sister’: The Reception and Representation of Jean Appelius (nee Dury) in the Hartlib Circle, 1641-1661”, showcasing research on letters that evidence the social exclusion suffered by Jean Appellius, sister to John Dury, that can be found in letters written by Dorothy Moore, her sister-in-law. Though no letters written by Jean are extant, Moore’s letters to members of the circle show that Jean was a problematic figure in the Dury circle: she was considered to be less than pious, and described in very strong terms in correspondence. Bourke’s contention was that the letters evidence a project of ‘othering’ within a close network, containing very great detail about Jean but also a very strong dismissal of her.


Evan Bourke

After tea we were treated to a plenary lecture by Dr Ruth Ahnert. Ruth, a senior lecturer in Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London and a co-director (with Prof Joad Raymond) of the Centre for Early Modern Mapping News and Networks, is currently conducting research on Tudor Networks of Power, in which she combines digital methods from the field of Complex Networks to study Tudor letters from the State Papers. Ruth’s fascinating lecture, entitled “Conspiracy and Surveillance in Tudor England”, demonstrated how Complex Network analysis can be incredibly revealing for Tudor letters, exploiting and studying similar aspects such as nodes, hubs and edges to reveal similar underlying patters and real-world networks. Ruth showed us in great detail how this kind of collaboration (undertaken with her husband Sebastian Ahnert) can uncover all sorts of activity and connections between suspected spies, conspirators and double-agents that would not ordinarily be discernible in traditional approaches to this sort of archive. One of the case-studies used here were the letters of Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon and the great-grandson of Edward VI, who was a prisoner in London and was exiled to Venice in the 1550s. Ruth’s evidence uncovered an anomaly (an unusual burst of activity) around him. All but one of his letters preserved in the State Papers was sent from exile, and a high proportion of them were intercepted. Courtenay knew he was under surveillance, but he persists in writing to dubious individuals.


Dr Ruth Ahnert

After a day of wonderful papers we adjourned to the nearby Castletroy Park Hotel for an early dinner and a very jolly time. We heartily recommend the fish and chips!

This meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar was sponsored by the faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, UL; The School of Culture and Communication, UL; and the Society for Renaissance Studies. A sincere thanks to delegates who travelled to be with us on the day, and in particular huge gratitude to our four splendid speakers. We look forward to reconvening in the springtime at UCD for the first Irish Renaissance Seminar meeting of 2017!

Guest post by Dr Carrie Griffin, Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature in the School of Culture & Communication at University Limerick.

Irish Renaissance Seminar at University of Limerick on 5th November

The Centre for Early Modern Studies Limerick is pleased to announce that it will host the Irish Renaissance Seminar in November. This will be the first time that the IRS, held biannually in universities around the island of Ireland, will take place in Limerick. The CEMS Limerick, launched last week, is a joint initiative between scholars at UL and MICL.

Irish Renaissance Seminar

5th November 2016

Kemmy Business School, G15, University of Limerick


Theme: “Early Modern Otherness: Outlaws, Exiles, and Outsiders”

Light lunch available from 12pm

1pm Opening remarks

1.10pm: Panel

  • Dr Clodagh Tait (Department of History, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick)
    “Outlawed Emotions: Lordly Rage and its Consequences in Early Modern Ireland”.
  • Dr Gordon Ó Riain (School of Culture & Communication, University of Limerick)
    “A Fifteenth-­Century Ulster Poet in Exile”.
  • Evan Bourke (RECIRC Project, NUI Galway)
    “The ‘Burden[some] Sister’: The Reception and Representation of Jean Appelius (nee Dury) in the Hartlib Circle, 1641-­1661″.

2.40-3.15pm: Coffee break

3.15-4.15pm: Keynote

  • Dr Ruth Ahnert (Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary University of London, and Co-Director of the Centre for Early Modern Mapping News & Networks)
    “Conspiracy and Surveillance in Tudor England”

4.30pm Close

[Optional: Dinner in local restaurant from c.6.30pm]

This event is generously supported by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, UL, the School of Culture and Communication, UL, and by the Society for Renaissance Studies.

For further details on this event, please email Dr Carrie Griffin (Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature, School of Culture & Communication, University Limerick).

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Report: Irish Renaissance Seminar at Queen’s University Belfast


Guest post by Prof. Mark Thornton Burnett, Queen’s University Belfast

The Queen’s University Belfast meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar (7 May 2016), generously supported by the British Shakespeare Association, the British Council and the Society for Renaissance Studies, got off to a great start with the cutting of the Globe Theatre Cake, which was very much enjoyed by the 40 delegates from NI/Ireland and the US in attendance.

The opening plenary, ‘The Curiosity of Nations: Communities of Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century’, by Prof. Sheila Cavanagh (Emory University and Fulbright/Global Shakespeare Centre Distinguished Chair), offered a fascinating glimpse into how Shakespeare can be debated across the world in a ground-breaking fashion via interactive classroom experiences. We then moved to wonderful shorter papers (Emer McHugh, NUI Galway, and Dr Edel Semple, UC Cork) on the Druid Shakespeare and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth respectively which prompted lively reflection on the place of Shakespeare in regional and media contexts. Dr Stephen O’Neill’s (Maynooth University) plenary on ‘“It is the digital, / The digital above us, govern our conditions”: Shakespeare, (Mis)quotation and Digital Cultures’ followed, this furnishing delegates with rich insights into the cultural work attached to online Shakespearean communities.

Complementing and enhancing discussion was the concluding roundtable with Andrea Montgomery, director of the Terra Nova intercultural theatre group and of the Belfast Tempest, a stunning and epoch-making adaptation of Shakespeare’s play utilizing Belfast histories and a cast of hundreds. Andrea was joined by cast member, Ilana Gilovich, in the roundtable.

On the social side, delegates attended the launch of the British Council/QUB Exhibition, ‘Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen’, at the Queen’s Film Theatre, and also heard about the extraordinarily wide range of public-facing events being put on as part of the British Council supported Shakespeare 400 initiative, Shakespeare Lives Across the Island: Conversations and Celebrations. A convivial dinner at the French Village Restaurant rounded off the day’s activities.

Prof. Mark Thornton Burnett, Queen’s University Belfast
This is part of the ‘Shakespeare Lives Across the Island’ programme, which can be downloaded here. More #Shakespeare400 and British Council #ShakespeareLives events can be found on the blog using the tag #ShaxIRL400. Follow us on Twitter at @ShakesinIreland.

Irish Renaissance Seminar, QUB: Shakespeare Lives across the Island, 7 May 2016


Shakespeare Lives across the Island:

Conversations and Celebrations

7th May 2016, Old Staff Common Room, QUB

12pm                                  Lunch (courtesy of School of English)

1pm – 2pm                         Plenary One                                   Chair: Ramona Wray (QUB)

Prof. Sheila T. Cavanagh (Emory University and Fulbright/Global Shakespeare Centre Distinguished Chair), ‘The Curiosity of Nations: Communities of Shakespeare in the Twenty-first Century’

2pm – 3:15pm                   Paper Session                                Chair: Edel Lamb (QUB)

Shakespeare on Film and in Performance

Emer McHugh (NUI Galway), ‘Irish Shakespeare on the Margins and in the Mainstream: The Case of Druid Shakespeare’

Dr Edel Semple (UC Cork), ‘Men, Women and the Nation in Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth

3:15 – 3:30pm                   Coffee

3:30 – 4:30pm                   Plenary Two                                   Chair: Romano Mullin (QUB)

Dr Stephen O’Neill (Maynooth University), ‘“It is the digital, / The digital above us, govern our conditions”: Shakespeare, (Mis)Quotation and Digital Cultures’

4:30 – 5:15pm                   Roundtable: Belfast Tempest   Chair: Mark Burnett (QUB)

Belfast Tempest is a stunning adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest staged in the giant industrial cathedral that is T13. It combines 3D holographic sound, actors, dancers, a choir of Belfast voices and community groups from across the city. The roundtable features Andrea Montgomery, Director (Terra Nova), and cast member Ilana Gilovich (QUB)

5:30pm                               Reception and Launch of the British Council/QUB Exhibition, ‘Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen’, Queen’s Film Theatre

7pm                                     Dinner at French Village, Botanic Avenue (self-funding, but School of English to provide drinks to accompany dinner)

With grateful thanks to: British Council, British Shakespeare Association, School of English, School of Creative Arts, Society for Renaissance Studies


This is part of the ‘Shakespeare Lives Across Ireland’ programme, which can be downloaded here. More #Shakespeare400 events can be found on the blog using the tag #ShaxIRL400. Follow us on Twitter at @ShakesinIreland

Programme: Shakespeare Lives, 2016


The full programme of events marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is now available for download: Shakespeare Lives Across the Island – Conversations and Celebrations 2016.

This fantastic line-up, happening all across Ireland, is in partnership with the British Council, and involves universities, museums, libraries and theatres on both sides of the border.

Here’s a preview of just some of the upcoming events:


Irish Renaissance Seminar, QUB: Shakespeare Lives across the Island

on Saturday 7th May, 12pm- 7pm, in the Old Staff Common room, QUB


“Shakespeare: Here and Elsewhere” workshop, dlr Lexicon

a workshop on Shakespeare in film and modern popular culture at dlr Lexicon, Dun Laoighaire, 14th May 


Public talks: UCD – Abbey Theatre Shakespeare Lectures 2016

11th May, 7pm, Pearse Museum:  Prof. Andrew Murphy (University of St Andrews),‘Shakespeare and Irish Radicalism: The Road to 1916’

12th May, 5pm, Abbey Theatre (Peacock):  Prof. Gordon McMullan (King’s College, London), ‘Remembering and Forgetting Shakespeare in 1916’

27th May, 4pm, Abbey Theatre (Peacock): Dr Farah Karim-Cooper (Shakespeare’s Globe), ‘Gesture on the Shakespearean Stage’

9th June, National Library, 7pm: Prof. Margaret Kelleher (UCD) and Prof. Danielle Clarke (UCD): ‘An “Irish Mode”? The Literary Writings and Legacy of Thomas MacDonagh. A conversation, with selected readings from MacDonagh’s works, performed by the UCD Ad Astra Drama Scholars


Symposium: Shakespeare 400 Ireland, NUIM, 21-22 Oct 2016

with a keynote lecture by Professor Willy Maley (University of Glasgow) ‘”They are rising, they are rising”: Shakespeare and 1916’, and papers by Professor Mark Burnett (Queens University Belfast), Dr Jane Grogan (UCD) and Professor Patrick Lonergan (NUI Galway)


More events can be found here.


Check back for more details soon, including an exhibition on Sir Kenneth Branagh at Queen’s University Belfast, a Shakespeare Day at Trinity College Dublin, and a performance of Pericles, Prince of Tyre in association with University College, Cork.

You can also follow what’s happening on Twitter @ShakesinIreland and using the hashtag #ShaxIRL400. Get in touch and let us know what you think!

Irish Renaissance Seminar – UCC 16th May 2015

Irish Renaissance Seminar – University College Cork – Saturday 16th May 2015

“Mapping Conflict and Power”

1.20pm                Welcome

1.30 – 2.45pm     Plenary: Prof. Philip Schwyzer (University of Exeter), “Marching on the Borders of the Pale”

2.45– 3.15pm      Refreshments 

3.15– 4.30pm     Dr Darragh Greene (University College Dublin), “‘The grace of the contention’: Power and Conflict in Chaucer and Shakespeare’s Tales of Palamon and Arcite”

Dr Danielle Magnusson (University of Washington), “Playing with Loss: Economic Tensions and Domestic Politics in the Wakefield Cycle”

David Roy (University College Cork), “Mapping Edmund Spenser’s Munster Estate”

Kindly supported by UCC’s School of English and the Society for Renaissance Studies.

For further details, please contact Dr Edel Semple (UCC).