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Past Event:     Saturday 16 October, 2010

The focus of the Literature of Irish Exile Autumn School, now in its eleventh year, remains on how emigrants from Ireland have given expression in words to feelings of exile. Part of the programme will take place in the stimulating setting of the Outdoor Museum of the Ulster American Folk Park. The rest will be in the warmth of the library of the Centre for Migration Studies. The aim is to give members of the public a friendly opportunity to meet and mix with experts on some of the less well-known aspects of 'exile' in Irish literature.


Dr Fred Freeman is Hon Fellow in English at the University of Edinburgh; author of a book on the Edinburgh poet, Robert Fergusson, and of a recent children’s book on Robert Tannahill. He is also the producer / musical director of THE COMPLETE SONGS OF ROBERT BURNS (12 vols, Linn Records). He will speak about the Paisley weaver poet and song-writer Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) in connection with Irish migration to Scotland. Tannahill, who was published in numerous 19th-century Belfast editions, was a major Burnsian figure. He, arguably more than anyone in his time, splendidly carried on the Scots vernacular tradition of Burns. His own songs and poems embrace working class life, including good natured town satires and caricatures which remind one of Burns’s “Jolly Beggars”; exquisite pastoral songs of the Scottish landscape, one of which, ‘The Braes o Balquhidder’, was the acknowledged inspiration for the McPeake family’s internationally famous ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’; and a spirited defence of Irish immigrant weavers in Scotland.

Sean McCartan is a family migration history expert and a graduate of the MSSc programme in Irish Migration Studies. He was invited in February this year to the de Gaulle Birthplace Museum in Lille to give a lecture on the Irish ancestry of Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle made his only visit to Ireland in June 1969. He was always aware of his Irish ancestry. Before and after his visit many journalists and genealogists attempted to record his family link to Ireland. Their role was restricted due to several factors. Due to recent in-depth research in both Ireland and France some important historical documents have been located which give conclusive evidence of his Irish link. All will be revealed.

Walter McFarlane
is a guide in the Ulster-American Folk Park, well-known for his portrayals of Thomas Mellon and the local schoolmaster in the museum’s living history programme. Patrick Fitzgerald is Lecturer and Development Officer at the Centre for Migration Studies and Brian Lambkin is Director of the Centre for Migration Studies. The guided walk in the Outdoor Museum will focus on the kind of education available to men like Robert Tannahill and Thomas Mellon and include dramatised readings about hedge school masters from the Autobiography and Stories and Traits of William Carleton.

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