Winter Programme of lectures 2017-2018

    Our lecture programme for Autumn, Winter, and Spring 2017–18 is listed below. We hope that you will find something in the programme  to interest, inform and amuse you during the long dark months that are not so far ahead now.

    The lectures will take place on Tuesdays at 8pm in the Westport Coast Hotel on the Quay on the dates listed below, with the exception of the lecture in association with the Westport Arts Festival on Wednesday, the 27th of September, at the Wyatt Hotel on the Octagon, and the special lecture in association with the Custom House Studios and Westport Town Hall on Friday, the 1st of December at Westport Town Hall, which also carries an admission fee of €10. 

    Admission is free for members of the Civic Trust and €5.00 for non-members. That means that paid-up members are making a profit after 2½ lectures . . . .

    19th September

    Micheal O hAodha (University of Limerick), ‘On the run’ – the story of Colm O Gaora in the War of Independence’.
    This is based on O Gaora’s memoir On the run: the story of an Irish freedom fighter, published by Mercier Press in 2016, translated and edited by Ruan O’Donnell and Micheál Ó hAodha of UL. It tells about his adventures in Galway and Mayo during the War of Independence.

    The 2017-2018 lecture programme will begin with ‘On the Run: the memoir of Irish Republican Colm Ó Gaora’. This lecture, to be given by Dr Micheál Ó hAodha, will be at the Westport Coast Hotel on Tuesday 19th September and will begin at 8pm.

    Born in Rosmuc, in the Connemara Gaeltacht in 1887, Colm Ó Gaora was an Irish language teacher with the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) and a key figure in the development of Republicanism, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers in the west of Ireland. Ó Gaora was also a leading figure in the first generation of nationalist intellectuals who defined the emergence of the nascent Irish state. His autobiography Mise (1943) is one of the best known accounts of the War of Independence in the Irish language. It is now translated into English by Micheál O hAodha and tells the fascinating story of Ó Gaora and his fight for Irish freedom.

    In this talk Micheál will discuss Ó Gaora’s early life growing up on a subsistence farm in Connemara, his evolution as a Republican and Nationalist (partly based on the history of landlordism and land agitation in his area) and his interaction with other leading Nationalists such as Pearce and De Valera both in the west of Ireland and in Dublin. Of particular interest are Ó Gaora’s insights into the preparations for the 1916 Rising in Galway and Mayo and the organisation of Republican prisoners in British prisons such as Dartmoor subsequent to the Rising. Ó Gaora’s account provides a unique and fascinating insight into a particularly turbulent era of Irish history.

    Dr Micheál Ó hAodha works at the University of Limerick. He has written many books in Irish and English on aspects of the Irish migrant experience, and Irish Nationalist history. A recent publication is Voices from the Easter Rising (Irish Academic/Merrion Press)

    27th September

    8.00 pm Wyatt Hotel
    (in association with the Westport Arts Festival),
    Prof Eamonn O'Flaherty (UCD), '250 Years of Visitors to Westport'

    This lecture will be given by Professor Eamonn O’Flaherty of UCD, and is held in association with the Westport Arts Festival. It will be held at the Wyatt Hotel at 8pm, and entry is free.

    Richard Pococke’s visit to Westport in 1725 as part of a tour of Ireland was the first of a long series of descriptions of the town, Westport House and its demesne. Usually the writers were Irish or British in origin, but we also have accounts by visitors from continental Europe, which offer another perspective on the area.

    Eamonn O’Flaherty, Associate Professor, School of History, UCD, will offer an anecdote-stuffed account of some of his research so far on the Westport volume of The Irish Historic Towns Atlas. How our visitors see us always presents an interesting perspective on how we see ourselves. This is as true now as it has been through history.

    Prof O’Flaherty, author of the Limerick volume of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA), is currently preparing the Westport Atlas, with Siobhan Sexton who lives and works in Mayo. The IHTA is based in the Royal Irish Academy and, to date, atlases for 26 towns and cities in Ireland have been published.

    17th October

    Prof John Sweeney, (Maynooth University), ‘Climate Change in Mayo and the West of Ireland’.
    John Sweeney is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is currently President of An Taisce, the National Trust of Ireland and a familiar spokesman on the media on climate change in Ireland. He currently leads a number of nationally-funded research projects examining various aspects of climate change in Ireland.

    Climate science, climate policy and climate justice have become increasingly intertwined and have gained considerable traction in the public consciousness as awareness of the shortening timescales for effective action has become clear. While many countries have responded to the threat by taking effective actions to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions, Ireland is back on an increasing emissions trend and is a disproportionately high contributor to the problem. This talk will examine the nature of and impacts of climate change for Ireland and discuss why it is on course to fail its international obligations.

    14th November

    Dr Muireann O’Cinnéide (NUIG), ‘William Makepeace Thackeray and the West of Ireland’.
    William Thackeray in his Irish Sketch Book (1843) describes visiting Westport where he witnessed ‘the most beautiful view I ever saw in the world … The Bay and the Reek which sweeps down to the sea, and a thousand islands in it were dressed up in gold and purple and crimson, with the whole cloudy west in a flame’. Muireann lectures in English in NUIG.

    1st December

    8.00 pm Westport Town Hall 

    Dr Marie Bourke, ‘F.W. Burton in the West of Ireland’.
    Sponsored by Westport Civic Trust, the Custom House Studios & Westport Town Hall.

    **Special lecture, outside of our normal series, with an admission charge of €10 for members and the general public alike** 

    Dr Marie Bourke is the curator of the exhibition "Frederic William Burton: For the Love of Art" at the National Gallery till January 2018. In this talk she explores Burton's excursions in Sligo, Mayo, Galway and Kerry between 1839-41, which left the artist with an abiding love for the people and landscape of the west of Ireland.

    12th December

    Sean Cadden (Mayo Agricultural service), ‘Agricultural Change in Mayo Since WW2’
    Farming in Mayo and the west of Ireland has changed radically in the past fifty years. Mechanization, decline in tillage, silage, and part-time farming have had major impacts on the look of the landscape and the composition of rural communities in west Mayo. Sean Cadden has a lifetime of experience with farmers and farming in Mayo.

    16th January 2018

    Barbara Barclay (GMIT), ‘The Mayo Orphan Girls: Famine Emigration to Australia 1848-1850’.
    During and after the Famine hundreds of thousands emigrated from the west of Ireland. Among these were many young orphans who were assisted to emigrate from overcrowded workhouses. Barbara Barclay is undertaking research on Mayo girls who were given paid passages to Australia.

    20th February 2018

    Dr Arnold Horner (UCD), ‘Mapping Mayo 200 Years Ago'.
    Before the government’s Ordnance Survey in the 1830s many private mapping projects were undertaken in Ireland. County Grand Juries sponsored surveyors to produce maps which give details of landscape and settlement before the sweeping changes which came in the middle of the nineteenth century. Dr Arnold Horner of UCD is an expert on Irish historical maps and surveys and has written about William Bald’s mapping of Mayo (1813-30) in Mayo history and society.

    20th March 2018

    Prof Rob Kitchin (Maynooth University),'Why Does Planning Keep on Failing in Ireland?' 
    Rob Kitchin is Professor of Human Geography and ERC Advanced Investigator in the National Institute of Regional and Spacial Analysis, of which he was director between 2002 and 2013, at Maynooth University. He was the 2013 Recipient of the Royal Irish Academy's Gold Medal for the Social Sciences, received the Association of American Geographers ‘Meridian Book Award’ for the outstanding book in the discipline in 2011, and his research has been discussed over 600 times in local, national and international news media. Prof Kitchin has been frequently interviewed on national and local radio during the recession about ‘ghost estates’, the housing crisis, and the fallout from poor spatial planning in Ireland.

    17th April 2018

    Linda and Chris Huxley (GMIT), ‘Nature on Lough Carra'. 
    Chris and Lynda Huxley have been studying and enjoying Lough Carra since they came to live in County Mayo in 2000. Chris is a retired ecologist and conservationist and Lynda an administrator and semi-professional photographer, although their interest in the Lough has extended well beyond these areas. They established and maintain, with the voluntary assistance of Mary Roberts (ex GMIT IT graduate), the website in order to make available the plethora of information that has been and still is accumulating on the various aspects of the lake. In 2015, they published their book ‘Lough Carra’ which covers a wide range of topics,including archaeology, geology, history, angling, wildlife etc.

    Lough Carra and its lakeshore environment are truly special and unique in many ways. It has a very rich archaeological heritage, important history, links to major works of literature and significant recreational aspects, especially angling. In addition, the Lough has an unusually rich biodiversity and, as possibly the best example of a shallow marl lake in western Europe, is internationally important from the conservation point of view. The talk will cover all of these aspects, as well as a summary of the ecological decline, and its causes, that the Huxleys have regrettably observed over the last eighteen years.

    Westport Civic Trust Aims

    Promote and initiate the preservation and protection, renewal and improvement of the buildings and other features of the natural, historical, cultural, scientific and architectural interest of the area, for the benefit of the community.

    Westport Civic Trust


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