The Friends Newsletter

This newsletter includes articles for and by our Friends members, as well as highlights of Harvard Celtic Department people and events.  Visit this page often for announcements and new stories.  Le dea-mhéin!

Visiting Fellow in Celtic, Elen Ifan

Elen Ifan

Elen Ifan

Elen Ifan is a Visiting Fellow from Bangor University, studying here at the Celtic Languages and Literatures Department for the Fall Semester. Originally from Barry in South Wales, she is in her second year of her PhD at Bangor researching the work of Welsh poet T. Gwynn Jones (1871-1949) and its relationship with music. She received her BA (Hons) in Welsh and English Literature from Bangor in 2011, stayed in the school of Welsh for her MA, finishing in 2012, and going on to PhD level last September. Her main interest, musico-literary relations, was sparked in her second year of undergraduate study when she followed a course named ‘Words and Music’. She continued to explore the field with an undergraduate dissertation about John Milton, before switching to Welsh Literature to ask the same kinds of questions about the relationship between words and music. This aspect of T. Gwynn Jones’ work has not been explored previously, despite his being the author or translator of over 300 songs, among his many other works. Through her work she hopes to shed new light on the work of a well-known poet. She is the fourth research student to visit from Bangor, due to the exchange program which exists between the School of Welsh in Bangor and the Celtic Languages and Literatures Department in Harvard. During her time here she will continue with her own research as well as take part in the daily life of the department by following some of the courses offered. She looks to benefit greatly from her time at Harvard both by taking advantage of the expertise and knowledge of the faculty and by making full use of the Library’s valuable resources. In her spare time she enjoys running, as well as listening to and creating music, and has joined the orchestra and choir of Dudley House, the Graduate Students' Center.

Dr. Ríona Nic Congáil -- Visiting Scholar in Celtic this Summer !

Riona Nic Congail

Dr. Ríona Nic Congáil

The Harvard Celtic Department welcomes a special Visiting Scholar in July. Dr. Ríona Nic Congáil, comes to us from the Gaelic department, St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. She has been awarded a grant from the Royal Irish Academy to conduct research on a topic entitled: “Disciplining Children: The Irish-Language Revival and the Construction of Nationalist Children’s Culture (c.1880-1920).” Her research on Irish revivalist history, culture, and literature is wide-ranging, focusing on nationalist children’s culture in the period and addressing educational textbooks, literature, drama, music, dance, art, and sport. She has co-edited a new book entitled Laethanta Gréine & Oícheanta Sí: Aistí ar Litríocht agus ar Chultúr na nÓg. The book addresses aspects of Gaelic children’s literature and culture, and it consists of twelve essays by established and emerging scholars. Ríona has also published three books in Irish for young audiences.
For more information, visit http://www.spd.dcu.ie/site/news/RionaNicCongail.shtml.

Irish Gaelic Manuscript Rediscovered in Widener Library

In the fall of 2009, a graduate student curator of the Fred Norris Robinson Celtic Seminar Library in Widener discovered a small paper manuscript inside a file cabinet. It turned out to be an extraordinary find, an Irish folktale written in Gaelic script, "Ridire an Chlóca Uaithne" (`The Knight of the Green Cloak').

Gaelic Manuscript

Irish Gaelic Manuscript in Widener Library

The slim note book appears to have belonged to Harvard's Gurney Professor Fred Norris Robinson. Thanks largely to "Fritz" Robinson's wide-ranging interests and energetic collection efforts, it is acknowledged that Widener Library has one of the finest Celtic studies collections in the world.  Through Robinson’s initiative, Harvard acquired a substantial collection of Gaelic manuscripts held in Houghton Library. The ‘Knight of the Green Cloak,’ which has now been transferred to Houghton Library for safekeeping and preservation, will thus become part of Houghton’s Gaelic MS collection where it will be accessible to a much wider public. Exactly when, how, or why the manuscript came into Robinson’s hands remains a mystery,  but  there can be little doubt that it was through Robinson’s long-time connection with Irish revivalist and distinguished folklore collector, Douglas Hyde (1860-1949), who incidentally served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. In 1933, Hyde published a text of  `The Knight of the Green Cloak’ in the Irish folklore journal Béaloideas; he tells us  that he received the text from an acquaintance, Joseph Perott, a resident of Worcester, MA, who recorded the tale from an Irish immigrant, James Coyne, a laborer from county Galway. Perott , who was not able to write Gaelic, transcribed the text phonetically, and sent it  to Hyde in the hope the latter  might publish it.  Although the Robinson MS renders Perott’s transcription  in Gaelic orthography,  it was not written by Hyde himself, but by an unnamed Irish collaborator of Hyde’s; Hyde’s own hand can be seen in marginal notes and corrections. Hyde appears to have used the text of the Robinson MS as the basis for his own transcription of Perott’s text, adopting, however, entirely  different orthographic and  editorial conventions.

Dr. Hillers discussing text

Dr. Barbara Hillers discussing the text

The folktale itself is a version of a wonder tale, `The Maiden Without Hands', common in Ireland and Scotland.   The tale is one of a group of tales about an injustice committed against a female heroine, in this case a horrific act of violence perpetrated against the heroine by either her brother or her father. In Ireland, the story was told by both men and women, and James Coyne’s sympathetic treatment of the heroine show that men as well as women had a stake in censoring acts of domestic violence committed against women. - by Barbara Hillers and Margo Granfors (May 2013)

For further information on this intriguing story, see Barbara Hillers, "`The Knight of the Green Cloak' and Other Irish Folklore Marvels in Harvard Libraries", Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium, Volume XXXI, 2011, 143-49. An online edition and translation of the manuscript text can be found on the Harvard Celtic Department website: www.celtic.fas.harvard.edu/hcFolklore_Irish.shtml#irishMS.

Summer Courses in Celtic Studies

Fáilte! Welcome Summer with an Introduction to Modern Irish!

Barbara Hillers

Dr. Barbara Hillers

This summer school course will offer students an intensive and thoroughly enjoyable means towards a rapid acquisition of essential grammar and conversational skills in Irish Gaelic. The course is strongly participatory in character, and class work will include grammar drills, games and conversational role play. New grammar and vocabulary are reinforced by regular written homework exercises. As a back-up to oral class work, students will work on their pronunciation and aural comprehension in the language lab. Songs, proverbs, and poems form an integral part of the course, introducing students to the cultural background of Gaelic Ireland. Texts for the course include a choice of Irish grammars and dictionaries as well as learning materials developed by Dr. Hillers and Bettina Kimpton, also an alumna of the Harvard Celtic Department. The course instructor, Dr. Barbara Hillers, is an associate of the Harvard Celtic Department. She was trained in Ireland (Belfast, Dublin, and Rannafast, Donegal), and first taught Irish at Harvard in 1993 as a grad student off the boat from Ireland. She has since taught Irish and Scottish Gaelic language, literature and folklore at the University of Edinburgh and at Harvard, and has published on medieval and modern Gaelic literature and folklore. Barbara's ongoing interest in Gaelic folklore and her love of the Irish song tradition ensures that her classes never stray too far from fun and games. (March 2013)

For Dr. Hillers’ bio, visit: http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~hillers/

Click HERE for information on the Summer School Course in Modern Irish (Celtic S-132)

Discovering Early Irish Myth & Epic this Summer!

Straw Man

Straw figures appear in Irish tradition, and also
in areas once inhabited by Celtic peoples

Over their long history, the Irish have adapted time and again to change and challenge, continuing inherited traditions while weaving new threads into the tapestry of social and cultural life. Many of these threads have been influential far beyond Ireland itself—appearing dramatically, for example, in contemporary creative fantasy writing. Early Christian Ireland preserved and reshaped pagan myth and epic as well as native social structures and customs. The later Viking and Norman invasions, followed by the English settlement and conquest, influenced Irish society profoundly, both politically and in broader cultural terms. This experience of ongoing cultural challenge in medieval and early modern Ireland fostered interaction between inherited tradition and newly-developed customs and understandings. Irish folk tradition of the 20th century, exemplified by the work of great storytellers such as Peig Sayers, similarly reflects a complex inheritance of narrative and custom that survived in the context of changing ways of life.

St. Brigid's Cross

St. Brigid's Cross, from the
collection of Armagh County Museum

Continuity and change are significant at every stage as we examine the characteristics of Irish material—which remains remarkable for its ability both to preserve and to innovate—and to spread its influence abroad. Join us for an exploration of the fruits of Ireland’s adaptive genius as we travel around Ireland in a virtual and visual circuit, sunwise from north to south. We will encounter early Irish myths and stories of gods and goddesses, kings and heroes; legends of wonderworking Christian saints; and a host of 19th and 20th century folk tales that give narrative form to Irish ways of understanding and engaging with the world. Folk ritual, music, calendar customs, customs related to the life-cycle (especially weddings and wakes), proverbs, and place-lore inform and deepen our appreciation of the Irish literary tradition. ~ By Dr. Elizabeth A. Gray & Dr. Kathryn Chadbourne (March 2013)


Click HERE for information on the Summer School Course Introduction to Irish Myth, Folklore, and Music (Celtic S-110)

Click HERE for further information and the Course Website.

Click HERE for samples of music from Kate Chadbourne’s CD, "The Irishy Girl":


An update from Ireland

Last summer, the Celtic Department enabled Harvard's Conor Walsh (class of 2012) to take intensive immersion Irish language courses after graduation.  As an undergraduate at Harvard, Conor fulfilled Secondary Field requirements in Celtic, and as preparation for graduate studies, he pursued this unique
opportunity to practice his Irish language skills at the Irish language learning institute, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge. The  institute is located in the Irish town of An Cheathrú Rua, a flourishing community in what is considered to be one of the strongest Irish-speaking regions in Ireland's Gaeltacht.

Conor is now a Mitchell Scholar in the M.A. program in Léann Teanga (Irish Language Studies) at University College, Galway. - Notes by Margo Granfors

The Irish expression, is ait an mac an saol (the world is strange) has been running through my head often enough since I landed in here in Ireland. I first came to Ireland just a few weeks after graduation and was fortunate enough to receive the Elizabeth Duncan Scholarship from the Celtic Department to spend the summer studying Irish in an Cheathrú Rua in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht. I went from the familiarity of Cambridge: subways, bricks, and the graceful quadrangles and libraries of Harvard, to the harsh and beautiful landscape of western Ireland. I enjoyed the change of scenery and pace and soon came to love my time in Connemara.

Conor Walsh

Conor Walsh

Learning Irish isn’t like learning Chinese, French or other widely spoken languages. There aren’t many places where Irish is a community language, and Irish-language media can’t match the overwhelming offerings of English-language television or print. Irish is, in some respects, an intensely local language, and demands that the learner familiarize himself with the nuances and history of the Gaeltacht’s social and physical geography. Instead of a being a weakness however, this makes learning Irish a terrific communal experience, one where social relationships are emphasized and appreciated. So when it came time to leave the Gaeltacht and head into the city to start my masters program, I was more upset than I expected. It felt as if the Gaeltacht and English-speaking Galway City were as different as night and day.

This difference would come to be a major theme of my academic experience this year. Currently, I’m completely an Irish-medium MA in Language Planning at Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge as a George Mitchell Scholar. The degree examines the sociolinguistic identity and composition of Ireland’s Irish-speaking communities in comparison with English-speaking Ireland and the broader global sociolinguistic trends among minority and endangered language communities. I was lucky enough to begin work on many of these questions last year with Professor Innes, who supervised my senior thesis on Irish language policy. Much of this year has been a rewarding continuation of the research I began at Harvard, and I have learned so much from many of the experts involved in studying and debating the future of the Irish language in Ireland.

The last thirty years have witnessed tremendous social and cultural change in Ireland. While much has been positive, it has been interesting to observe how economic prosperity has not been enough to stem the tide of language shift away from Irish towards English. As someone hoping to work with these questions professionally, Ireland as a case study is both very insightful and very worrying. The rate of language shift is rapid, and it appears there is not sufficient political will to see through substantive change. This is not necessarily a cause to abandon hope, but it does add a layer of urgency to work in the field. Thinking back to my first Irish class with the Department in 2009 as a sophomore in the College, questions of sociolinguistics and minority language policy would have seemed quite far away, and I would never have imagined I would find myself studying them through the Irish language. But here I am and there they are. Is ait an mac an saol.
- By Conor Walsh (March 2013)

Professor Ford teaches Welsh this spring

Professor Patrick Ford

Patrick Ford with a middle Welsh text

Margaret Brooks Robinson Emeritus Professor Patrick K. Ford is teaching Medieval Welsh Prose and Poetry this Spring Term. The class consists of two parts: (1) reading one of the Mabinogi tales; and (2) reading Welsh poetry from the 6th century to the 14th century. He has also organized an informal weekly session on Literary Modern Welsh for graduate students in the Celtic Department.

Pat Ford is teaching these Welsh courses while Celtic Department Chair and Margaret Brooks Robinson Professor Catherine McKenna is on sabbatical this term. Says Professor McKenna: “Our current students of Middle Welsh are fortunate indeed to have the opportunity of studying for a semester with Pat Ford. He is a gifted reader of poetry, especially the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, as students who were lucky enough to take his ‘Celtic Poets and Poetry’ course in the past know very well. Reading some of that poetry with him will be among the most memorable experiences of their time at Harvard.”

Pat Ford received his doctorate from Harvard in 1969, then taught at Stanford and the University of California, Los Angeles before coming to Harvard in 1991, where he chaired the department from 1991 to 2005. Professor Ford is an honorary Professor of Welsh at Bangor University in North Wales and an honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in the University of Wales.

Pat started the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies in 1993 with the strong support of two Harvard alums -- Philip Haughey, Boston businessman, and John Reardon, Executive Director of the Harvard Alumni Association. He is currently involved with poetry, photography, and painting. His paintings, mostly acrylic on canvas, are inspired by the landscapes and seascapes of Ireland and Wales, particularly the spellbinding beauty of Northern Ireland, the majestic Antrim Coast and its glens, and the ancient stone bridges throughout Snowdonia in Northern Wales. He has exhibited since 2010 in the Belmont-Arlington metro areas, and his work is part of numerous private art collections in the US, Ireland, and Wales.

- By Margo Granfors (February 2013)

Harvard’s Connection to the Welsh Community of Briceville, Tennessee

Eirug Davies

Dr. Eirug Davies

Of the over 300 Welsh Language books and pamphlets that were published in the United States during the 19th century, close to a half are to be found in the Celtic book collection of Harvard University's Widener Library. Readily apparent on many of them are the names of former owners, from the Apmadog who contributed so much to the country's eisteddfod cultural festivals, to the Robert Everett who, in 1840, started his long association with the highly successful monthly magazine, Y Cenhadwr Americanaidd (The American Missionary). As prominent as many such previous owners were, hardly anything is known about the one whose name appears the most frequent, and to make his identity more intriguing still is the fact that he did not reside in the more northern part of the country as the Welsh invariably did. The individual recognized for contributing the books to Harvard was a David R. Thomas from Coal Creek, Tennessee, but as one of the authors was to note that his book was intended as a "small token of friendship" for a Rees R. Thomas, some doubt exists as to whether David R. Thomas was indeed the collection's original owner. It was a curiosity about these two individuals, who turned out to be a father and son, that led Dr. Eirug Davies to further study of the Welsh involvement in the industrial development of Tennessee after the Civil War. While working on his book, The Welsh of Tennessee, Dr. Davies was contacted by students in Briceville, TN, who discovered the headstone of the father. For more on the fascinating connection between their discovery and the collection at Harvard, visit the Coal Creek website.
~ By D. Eirug Davies (March 2013)

Dr. Eirug Davies, formerly an associate of the Harvard Celtic Department, continues his independent research on the Welsh communities in America and their literature.  He is a member of the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies and the Cymrodorion Society of Boston.    

The Celtic collection at Widener Library

Boasting one of the best and most extensive collections in Celtic languages and literatures anywhere, the Harvard Library attracts scholars from across the globe. Library collections in Celtic span across different formats and disciplines. Large numbers of monographs are accompanied by a rich selection of original manuscripts, newspapers, scholarly journals, and audio recordings related to linguistics; British, French, and medieval history and law; folklore; literature; mythology; religion; anthropology; and archaeology. Growth in the library's print Celtic collections is supported by funds named for Fred N. Robinson, Thomas M. Downes, Charles W. Dunn, Zeph and Diana Stewart, Brower, Joseph J. Gannon, William Hermans and William Shepard Smith. Using the print collections currently requires a visit to Widener's book stacks or the Fred Norris Robinson Celtic Seminar Library on Widener's third floor, but the library also subscribes to e-journals and online audio files. One treasure not to be overlooked is the Harvard Celtic Folklore Collection, where one can find original Scottish Gaelic recordings, Irish manuscripts and sound recordings, and fieldwork collected in Welsh Patagonia. Many of these recordings are accessible through the Internet.

Ramona Islam

Ramona Islam

Two individuals steward this world-renowned collection: Ramona Islam, a Widener librarian who is the liaison to the department of Celtic Languages and Literatures, and Natasha Sumner, a fourth-year Celtic graduate student who is serving as curator for the Robinson Celtic Seminar Library in Widener. Ramona, who holds master's degrees in library science and educational technology, studied abroad in Scotland during her undergraduate career at Alfred University, where she majored in fine arts and English literature. A member of the honors program, Ramona enjoyed taking classes in Medieval literature and successfully proposed and enrolled in an honors course about fairy tales. Currently, Ramona is pursuing a doctorate in education, part time, but her role in the Harvard Library is a full time dedication. She enjoys providing research instruction and consultations for students in the Celtic program and attends departmental lectures whenever she can. "Keeping in touch with people and scholarship is the best way to be responsive to the needs of researchers," she says. "It was also delightful to work with a visiting scholar from Wales recently who helped the library identify and conserve some rare and important publications." Ramona foresees the importance of digital collections increasing, with progress contingent on funding for digitization and more robust technologies for hosting audio files online. Natasha Sumner, who curates the Robinson Library, also curates the department’s Modern Language Resource Collection, which she recently finished cataloging. The 430-plus items in this collection include Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, and Breton textbooks, grammar books, dictionaries, and audio-visual resources, as well as literature (beginner to advanced levels) on a number of topics. The Robinson Library houses Harvard's original collection donated to the Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures by its founder, F. N. Robinson. Acquisitions are added to this collection every year, and a number of new books, such as John Koch’s An Atlas for Celtic Studies, arrived just this fall.
- By Ramona Islam & Natasha Sumner (February 2013)

NEW MEMBER IN 2013 -- WELCOME to the FRIENDS!           

Please join us in welcoming a new member of the Friends in 2013:             

Kathleen C. Keville           

The 32nd Annual Harvard Celtic Colloquium

The 32nd Annual Harvard Celtic Conference took place over 5-7 October, 2012 in the Thompson Room, Barker Center. We welcomed participants from many universities in North America, including UCLA, the University of Toronto, Lehman College CUNY and the University of Connecticut, as well as from across the pond, with a particularly large contingent of speakers hailing from Dublin, Galway, Cork, Bangor, and the other Cambridge. Many attendees arrived early to catch the John V. Kelleher Lecture at the Harvard Faculty Club on Thursday night, given this year by the eminent Pádraig Breatnach

Pádraig Breatnach

Pádraig Breatnach

The Friday session opened with talks on Celtic mythology, the Welsh translation of Bevis of Hampton, and Celticity in the works of Shakespeare, and the remainder of the conference was just as varied. Lounging in our plush armchairs and couches (indeed, it was remarked that the couches had been set out to render everyone too happy and comfortable to ask tough questions), we heard papers in hagiography, early modern and modern Irish history, linguistics and language pedagogy, medieval Welsh history, Welsh bardic poetry, Irish prose tales, manuscripts, folklore, and Breton poetry. In the evening we were treated to a spirited performance by the very talented Harvard College Irish Dancers at a gathering in the Barker Rotunda.

We were particularly lucky to welcome Dr Elizabeth FitzPatrick of NUI Galway, a visiting scholar in the department on a Fulbright this semester, who gave us a synthesis of her work on royal demesne lands, Gaelic learned families, and the Finn tradition.

Georgia Henley and Elizabeth FitzPatrick

Georgia Henley and Dr. Elizabeth FitzPatrick

Another highlight was William and Valerie Gillies’s presentation of their ongoing work translating the Bard Macintyre, with Valerie’s reading of the Scots Gaelic sending chills down the spine. The Saturday and Sunday evening sessions closed with papers by Edgar Slotkin, emeritus professor of the University of Cincinnati, who gave a paper about lineage in Cath Maige Mucrama, and UCLA’s Joseph Nagy, closing out the proceedings with a talk about Tristan in the context of the Finn tradition. The banquet was held at the nearby Changsho, where guests shared platters of Chinese food and good conversation. Many other fine scholars gave papers in what turned out to be a very packed schedule; regretfully we cannot speak of every paper individually here! We were also fortunate to welcome so many young graduate students eager to participate in academic discourse; Celtic studies is certainly lucky in that regard. The conference would not be possible without the help of Margo Granfors, Steven Duede, and Dorothy Africa; the organizers would like to thank them for their gracious assistance throughout. We hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did, and we extend a warm invitation to everyone to join us at the 33rd Harvard Celtic Colloquium this coming October.
- By Georgia Henley (January 2013)

Larry Reynolds (1932-2012):   Farewell to a Friend

Larry Reynolds

Larry Reynolds

In early October, as the Celtic Department prepared for its 32nd Annual Harvard Celtic Colloquium, we heard the sad news of the death of Larry Reynolds.  Larry was a member of the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies and a frequent guest at Celtic Department céilí events. We all share a special sense of loss at his passing.

A native of Ballinasloe, co. Galway, Larry lived in the Boston area since 1953.  He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, 6 children, and numerous grandchildren.  He was a major influence in popularizing Irish traditional music in New England, recording several albums and receiving honors and praise from educational institutions, Irish organizations, and newspapers, including being named as one of the top 100 Irish Americans (Irish America Magazine, 2006).   He was honored by the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies in December, 2003 as a “foremost performer, preserver and promoter of Irish music for the better part of half a century.” 

Larry helped establish the Boston branch of the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in 1975, and he was recently honored on December 2nd in a special rededication ceremony which now includes his name in the official title: Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley Branch.  He was the Chairperson of the Comhaltas branch for 35 years, fostering and preserving Irish traditional music instruction and performance for all ages.

The current chairperson of the Comhaltas, Ms. Tara Lynch, recently gave me some of her own impressions of Larry from the viewpoint of a friend and fellow musician.  She mentioned his way of helping and inspiring others, giving his “time and talent unselfishly”; his passion for fostering and understanding traditions and their meanings; his love of playing all types of Irish music and his encouragement for all ages (especially teaching children to play music); his reluctance to want the “spotlight for himself”; and his way of relating to people personally (“not just music”). - Margo Granfors (January 2013)

Phil Haughey, co-chair of the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies and long-time friend of Larry Reynolds writes:

“The Boston Irish community and indeed the New England Irish community were deeply saddened to learn in October of Larry Reynolds' passing. Harvard and the Friends of Harvard Celtic Studies lost a dear friend and loyal supporter of the Harvard Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures.

Molly Hester and Larry Reynolds

Larry and Molly Hester

For nearly two decades, Larry and his Comhaltas musicians could be found at department and Friends events providing the wonderful sound of traditional Irish music. Larry was so proud of his association with Harvard.  Harvard in turn had a special fondness for Larry Reynolds.  In December 10, 2003, at the annual Friends Christmas dinner at Loeb House, Larry was presented the distinguished Friends
of Studies award, joining previous recipients such as the Ambassador to Ireland [Irish Consul General] Orla O'Hanrahan [honored on Dec. 5, 2000], artist Ross Wilson, and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.

At the Winter ceili sponsored by the Friends, Larry would be delighted to be with us all, and especially with the undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom would bring their instruments and their voices to the festivities -- and each was welcomed by Larry to "sit in" with Larry and his colleagues.  It's going to be strange and sad not to have Larry with us at these very special occasions.

Larry Reynolds.  A Friend of Harvard Celtic Studies RIP."

                    -- By Philip Haughey and Jack Reardon, Co-Chairs (January 2013)

Visiting Professor Dr. Elizabeth FitzPatrick

Elizabeth FitzPatrick

Dr. Elizabeth FitzPatrick

My decision, mid-career,  to come to Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard for the Fall Term 2012 is among the best I have made in life.  After almost 15 years in the Department of Archaeology, NUI, Galway, I felt the need for new perspectives on research and teaching and I wanted to enjoy freedom to think and write and to talk with new people for a while. With a Fulbright Visiting Scholarship and an invitation from Professor Catherine McKenna, I began teaching ‘CELT164 Medieval and early modern Gaelic society: landscape, settlement and material culture’, on 5 September.
My first and lasting impression of Celtic Languages and Literatures is that it is a very warm, friendly and supportive department that offers the best of collegiality and takes exceptional care of its students.  Before I arrived, Catherine and Margo had already set me up with a lovely office and guided me through various procedures so that I could slip seamlessly into the rhythm of life at Warren House.
There are memorable high points of my time here. Firstly there was the experience of small-group teaching with delightful students who were eager to question and discuss matters arising from the course contents and to bring their own ideas to bear on that material. I also felt privileged to have Catherine and Sìm attend class. It was very rewarding to hear their views on a course which for me has evolved and changed as result of teaching it at Harvard. The HCC was a thoroughly enjoyable scholarly event and social occasion, and a great credit to the passion and organisational skills of the student committee. The standard of the papers delivered by the younger scholars and the level of discussion on and off the floor was very impressive.  The connectivity between disciplines at Harvard and the genuine interest in trans-disciplinary thinking made this environment very attractive to me as an archaeologist who uses text and landscape to access the past. Catherine put me in touch with faculty in history and anthropology which led to several invitations to attend lectures and seminars. Last but not least, the superb library facilities were a joy. Having everything one could need, within reach in the Fred Norris Robinson Library made research so much easier and enabled me to get much more done in a short time than I had anticipated.
Three months have fled all too fast. I hope to find opportunities to return.
Do-chuaidh ar sgaoileadh don sgoil
gach fear dána ‘ na dhúthoigh
‘When the school was dispersed each poet departed to his homeland’
(Tadhg Óg Ó Huiginn 15th century)
Thanks to all of you for a wonderful Fall semester at Harvard. Slán go fóill!
- Liz (January 2013)

GSAS Workshop Topics, Fall Term, 2012
Coordinators Deborah Furchtgott and Matthew Holmberg

Sept. 25, 2012

Matthew Holmberg led discussion group, translating the first 8 sections of Echtrae Chonnlai, including a brief discussion of the text and its significance within the context of early Irish literature.

Oct. 2, 2012

Graduate students presented papers planned for the 32nd  Annual Harvard Celtic Colloquium (Oct. 5 – 7, 2012)

Oct. 25, 2012

Harvard Celtic Colloquium (HCC) Meeting to review 32nd Harvard Celtic Colloquium organization and consider the calendar for the 33rd Harvard Celtic C olloquium. This was followed by an Editorial Meeting of graduate student editors working on Vol. 32 of the Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium.

Oct. 30, 2012

Matthew Holmberg (G-3) presented paper he is working on for publication entitled, "Three Utterances and Curse Staves: Satire in Northern European Tradition"

Nov. 6, 2012

Presentation by Dr. Barbara Hillers Barbara Hillers on the proper methodology for analyzing folklore elements in Medieval literature

Nov. 27, 2012

Anton Brannelly (G-1) presentation:  "And Desire Shall Fail: The Poetics of Coitus Interruptus in the Poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym."

Dec. 4, 2012

Joey McMullen (G-4 ) presentation -- research on the application of Landscape Criticism to Medieval Sources

A LIFE'S WORK (In Mixed Media).

By Gene C. Haley and Patricia Mahoney Haley

Gene Haley

Gene Haley

After half a century of eye-strain and head-scratching, Gene and wife Pat have created a new website providing Global Positioning Satellite coordinates (GPS) for as many of the myriad places named in TBC recension 1 as Gene now considers probably or possibly identified.
To a great degree, the identifications are rooted in his 1970 Harvard doctoral dissertation "The Topography of the Táin Bó Cúailnge".  That document has never been published, but in 1969 many of its preliminary conclusions were included in Thomas Kinsella's landmark translation, The Táin.

Patricia and Gene 1966

Patricia and Gene, 1966

The authors hope that their foray into cyber-space here will prove an adjunct to studies in the Táin , and they would welcome and assist anyone seriously taken with the topographical puzzle-solving-bug. (January 2013)


Here's the link:



links to past Newsletters:

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