Thursday, March 09, 2006

New Yorkers Discuss Irish-American Marketing, U.S. Role in Irish Peace Process

NEW YORK -- Dozens gathered over several days last week in Manhattan, to discuss different, contemporary aspects of the Irish American experience.

At NYU's Glucksman Ireland House, Grian held its eighth annual scholars’ conference Friday through Sunday, kicking off with a talk by Professor Marion Casey about the marketing of Ireland in America, the creation of a luxury niche market with products such as Irish linen and Belleek china, and the use of symbols in Irish-American advertising. Saturday’s panels included literature, medieval studies, marketing, and music. Sunday’s panels included literature and marketing topics.

Above left, Sarah Wagner-McCoy of Harvard University, left, with New York City author Mary Gordon at Sunday's session of the GRIAN conference, at Ireland House, New York University. One of the topics was Gordon's latest novel, "Pearl."

Hasia Diner was the keynote speaker, on food and migration. She is the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University; her books include "Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Sciences), "Lower East Side Memories : A Jewish Place in America," and "Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration."

Above right, keynote speaker Hasia Diner discusses food and migration at last weekend's GRIAN conference.

Grian, based at Glucksman Ireland House, is comprised of scholars who focus on facets of the Irish experience affiliated with numerous New York area universities. Each year it hosts an interdisciplinary conference on a theme pertinent to Irish Studies and produces a journal titled Foilsu.

Right below, Christopher Cahill,
executive director of Pace University's Institute for American Irish Studies, concludes the March 1 panel discussion on the peace process in Northern Ireland. Cahill is also the editor of the American Irish Historical Society's journal The Recorder.

Pace University
, meanwhile, hosted a panel discussion March 1 on U.S. Involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process, sponsored by the university's Institute for American Irish Studies. Panelists Niall O’Dowd, attorney and activist Frank Durkan, and professor Joseph Skelly discussed the process' history and assessed its progress. During the discussion at Pace, Timothy O’Connor, Ireland's New York consul general, who has been involved with the peace process for 20 years, asked, “Is Northern Ireland a better place today than it was 25 years ago?” He credited the United States government, including Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, for much of the success of the negotiations. O’Dowd, editor and founder of Irish America Magazine and The Irish Voice newspaper, spoke of former senator George Mitchell, special advisor to the President and the Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Ireland (1995-2000), calling him a hero who brought “a fundamental American sense and a sense of humor” to the talks. The economy of the 1990s also played a decisive role in the process, but all agreed there is still much more work to be done. Institute Executive Director Christopher Cahill welcomed all, and spoke of dates to remember: the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising is being commemorated at Pace on April 10 in the Student Union, and in May a presentation on beleaguered St. Brigid’s Church, where parishioners and others are attempting to persuade the Archdiocese of New York to keep the one-time Irish immigrant church open.
-- Patricia Jameson-Sammartano, WGT Culture Editor

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