Bay Area Book Festival • June 3 & 4
Over the weekend of June 3rd and 4th, 2017, the third annual Bay Area Book Festival will fill downtown Berkeley with a literary extravaganza that offers pleasure to anyone who has ever loved a book. Irish writers featured this year on June 4th are: Colin Barrett, Paul Murray, and John Toomey
Colin Barrett was born in 1982 and grew up in County Mayo. ‘Young Skins’ won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Guardian First Book Award, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. His work has been published in the New Yorker, A Public Space, Granta, and the Stinging Fly. In 2015, Barrett was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35.”
John Toomey is a teacher at Clonkeen College in Dublin, where he teaches English and other things. He has written three novels to date, ‘Sleepwalker,’ ‘Huddelston Road,’ and the new ‘Slipping.’ He has also contributed a short story, “What the Dying Heart Says,” to Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2015.
Paul Murray was born in 1975. He studied English literature at Trinity College in Dublin and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. His debut, ‘An Evening of Long Goodbyes,’ was short-listed for the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2003 and was nominated for the Kerry Grove Irish Fiction Award. His second novel, ‘Skippy Dies,’ was short-listed for the 2010 Costa Novel Award, was long-listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was ranked third in Times’ ten best books of 2010. Murray’s new novel is ‘The Mark and The Void.’
Sunday, June 4th, 10am. Hotel Shattuck Plaza
Irish Literary & Historical Society Speaker Series • May 21
Elizabeth Drew on Samuel Beckett
Trinity PhD scholar, will speak on the presence of Ireland in the writings of Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett.
Samuel Beckett, one of the most acclaimed writers of the 20th century, was born in Foxrock, Co. Dublin in 1904. He completed his undergraduate degree at Trinity College, Dublin, spent a decade traveling and working in Europe, and then settled in France for more than five decades. Most of his literary works were composed in French and self-translated into English. Although Beckett left Ireland, Ireland never left him. His relationship with the country of his birth was complicated, but its landscape, clim ate, and people were a continual presence in his work until his death. His ruminations on and dramatizations of memory, self, and consciousness are frequently set in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, along the sweep of Killiney Bay, and in the social vernacular of Irish life. This lecture will follow the trajectory of Beckett’s work from his early adulthood in Dublin through his last writings, tracing the presence of his homeland throughout. It will offer some guidance for the casual reader to explore, and hopefully enjoy, Beckett’s works, which are frequently labeled as bleak, enigmatic, and difficult.
Dr. Elizabeth Drew lived, studied, and worked in Ireland for seven years. Her master’s dissertation on Samuel Beckett’s poetry and her PhD on cognitive science and complexity in Beckett’s late prose were both completed at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. She is an independent scholar and stay-at-home mom living in San Francisco, California.
May 23, 5pm – United Irish Cultural Center 2700 45th Ave, San Francisco
ILHS members free, visitors $5, reception follows.
Ethel Rohan Book Reading • Feb 23
Join Ethel Rohan for a reading and signing of her debut novel, The Weight of Him, at Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco.
The Weight of Him tells the story of Billy Brennan. At four hundred pounds, Billy can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life. Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.
“The Weight of Him conjures all the grief and regret of a family who has suffered an insurmountable loss. Out of this burning sorrow rises Billy Brennan, a father who attempts the seemingly impossible – to change the world. Ethel Rohan captures a blend of humor and tragedy that is entirely true to family, hometown, and our own private struggles. Poignant and inspiring.”–Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child
Judy Wells/Dale Jensen Poetry Reading • Feb 17
Dale Jensen and Judy Wells will read their poetry at 7 pm on Friday, February 17th, at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Avenue in Berkeley.
Judy Wells, educated at Stanford and UC Berkeley, has published eleven poetry books. Her latest poetry collection, The Glass Ship (Sugartown, 2014), completes her trilogy of Irish-themed works, including Everything Irish and Call Home (Scarlet Tanager Books). She has three works-in-progress: her New England-to-California Dickinson ancestor project, “The Old People Monologues from A-Z,” and “Night at the Musée d’Orsay: Poems of Paris and other Great European Cities.”
Dale Jensen’s poetry is heavily influenced by the Surrealists and such cut-up writers as William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. He published and edited the experimental poetry magazine Malthus from 1986 through 1989 and has published several books through Malthus Press.
Judy Wells website
Expressions Gallery, Berkeley website
ILHS Speaker Series 2017
Matt Spangler, Feb 26. The Irish Literary & Historical Society is planning two very special events for the months of February and March. In February they present a talk by ILHS Vice President, playwright and academic Matthew Spangler. Spangler, a Professor of Performance Studies at San Jose State University, will present a talk titled “Walking in the City: A Kurdish Asylum-Seeker’s Arrival in Dublin”.
Over the last ten years, Spangler has conducted a number of ethnographic interviews with a Kurdish asylum-seeker and now refugee living in Dublin, Ireland. A former member of the PKK – the Kurdish separatist organization, labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. and many Western European countries – he left Iran because, as he put it, he was too “old to be fighting and living in the mountains anymore.” Eventually he ended up alone and wandering the streets of Dublin, which he initially took to be Toronto. In Ireland he requested asylum and, after five years of hearings, rejections, threatened deportations, and appeals, was awarded refugee status. This presentation will focus on his first morning in Dublin, and subsequent application for refugee status. The talk will take place on Sunday, February 26 at 5pm at the United Irish Cultural Center, 45th Avenue and Sloat Blvd., San Francisco.
Trevor Joyce • Green Arcade, SF, Nov 2
Green Arcade, Market St. SF, 7pm. website
For almost fifty years, since publication of his first book in 1967, Trevor Joyce has been a unique voice in Irish writing. His early work explored some possibilities of the lyric, and began a lifelong engagement with translation. Successive books explore the possibilities of found text, computer-mediated composition, writing under constraint, and radical approaches to translation.
Joyce co-founded, in Dublin, the New Writers’ Press and its journal The Lace Curtain in the late sixties, and then the annual SoundEye Festival in Cork in the nineties. He was elected to Aosdána, the Irish affiliation of artists, in 2004, and has just been awarded the 2016 N.C. Kaser Poetry Prize. His latest book is Selected Poems 1967-2014, Shearwater Press.
Charlotte Headrick on Irish Women Playwrights • Nov. 20
ILHS Speaker Series continues with Dr. Charlotte Headrick, Ph.D.in drama from the University of Georgia, and professor of Theatre Arts at Oregon State University. She has directed the American Premieres of several Irish plays and is widely published in the field of Irish Drama and has also presenting numerous papers nationally and internationally on Irish women dramatists. Her research specialty is Irish women dramatists. In the spring of 2013, she was a Moore Visiting Fellow at National University of Ireland, Galway where she was working on a production history of Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan. UICC 5pm more
James Joyce and Irish Song • October 30
The ILHS Speaker Series welcomes Professor Fran O’Rourke – James Joyce and Irish Song, Sunday Oct 30th @ 5pm in the St. Patrick’s Room, Stage Area, UICC (2nd Floor)
Music and song were central to the creative work of James Joyce. There are an estimated 3,500 musical references throughout his writings. These include operatic arias, children’s rhymes, hymns from Catholic liturgy, music hall songs and jazz. There are also hundreds of references to Irish songs which have been relatively ignored. Joyce’s interest in classical music, especially opera, is well documented; less well known are the important allusions throughout his writings to songs from the Irish tradition. Joyce’s work is inconceivable without such traditional songs as ‘Lass of Aughrim’, ‘Last Rose of Summer’, and ‘Croppy Boy’. Professor O’Rourke will perform these and other popular songs from the Irish tradition, and provide explanations of their origin, content, and significance to Joyce.
Fran O’Rourke is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, where he taught for thirty-six years. Besides ancient, medieval, and contemporary philosophy, he has written on philosophical aspects of James Joyce’s work. He has also researched Joyce’s extensive use of Irish traditional song. He has given recitals in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, the Conservatorio in Trieste, and the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco. In 2012 he sponsored restoration of James Joyce’s guitar, which is preserved in the Joyce Museum in Sandycove, location for the opening scene of Ulysses. With John Feeley, Ireland’s leading classical guitarist, he has recorded a CD of Irish songs from Joyce’s writings www.joycesong.info
Setting Donegal on Fire • October 2
Book launch of Setting Donegal on Fire by Diane Lovegrove Bader, at UICC.
In 1877 Daniel Sweeney, a wealthy Irish immigrant who owned the first stockyard in the City, leaves San Francisco and returns to Ireland with his wife and eight children. Appalled at the miserable conditions in which he finds the rural people of his native land, he challenges what he believes is a policy of neglect by both landlords and the authorities. This book provides insight into a true story of one returning immigrant’s encounter with the people he loves, the landlords he despises and the law under which he suffered.
Meet Diane Bader, his great granddaughter, who has just returned from her book launch in Ireland which was attended by Joe McHugh, Minister of the Diaspora
Los Gatos – Listowel Writers’ Festival • Oct 6-9
The heart and soul of Irish culture comes to the Bay Area with the debut of the Los Gatos-Listowel Writers’ Week. Listowel is sister city to Los Gatos, and home to one of Ireland’s most influential and internationally acclaimed literary festivals. The program—featuring over 15 Irish writers and poets traveling from Ireland to join their local counterparts—will consist of over 40 events designed to bring together writers and audiences in the historic town of Los Gatos over the course of four days and nights, October 6-9. The festival will include Mike McCormack, author of highly acclaimed novel, Solar Bones, Irish-German author and award-winning playwright Hugo Hamilton, a trio of women crime writers Louise Phillips, Niamh O’Connor and Claire McGowan, and a year-end tribute to Ireland’s uprising of 1916; in addition, local Irish writers Emer Martin and Ethel Rohan—and even a politician or two—are scheduled to join this lively contingent during festival entertainment and workshops.
Mark your calendars for the first annual Los Gatos – Listowel Writers’ Festival. More info
Writing Contest Finalists
Los Gatos – Listowel Writing contest finalists have been announced in the Short Story and Adult Poetry Categories.
Los “Splinter” Tobey Hiller, “Powder” Louise Kennedy, “A Beginner’s Guide to Madness” Barry McKinley
Long list results on festival website
Final three short stories are in the hands of Kevin Barry and the overall winner will be announced soon.
Adult Poetry Finalists: “Ursa Major” by Leigh Lucas, “Across and Down” by Kathleen McClung, “The woman sitting next to me” by Karen O’Connor, and “Message From the Beyond” by Laura Foley. Winner will be announced Sep. 26th
Deadline for Youth Poetry is Sep. 26th
Knights of the Borrowed Dark
For all Fantasy fans and future writers, Irish author Dave Rudden will be at The Booksmith, on Haight St. SF, to sign copies of his new bestselling fantasy novel Knights of the Borrowed Dark. He’ll also be available to talk to any tweens or teens who have ideas or stories that they hope to turn into a book, providing free consultations, book recommendations, writing tips, and encouragement to get your project going. Come with your ideas and leave with a copy of Knights of the Borrowed Dark.
About Knights of the Borrowed Dark:
Denizen Hardwick doesn’t believe in magic – until he’s ambushed by a monster born of shadows and sees it destroyed by a word made of sunlight.That kind of thing can really change your perspective. Now Denizen is about to discover that there’s a world beyond the one he knows. A world of living darkness where an unseen enemy awaits. Fortunately for humanity, between us and the shadows stand the Knights of the Borrowed Dark. Unfortunately for Denizen, he’s one of them . . .
“Like the Percy Jackson series, The Hunger Games or the Shiver Trilogy, KOTBD is dark, compelling and builds an addictive universe of characters, high stakes and evocative imagery.” —Jeffrey Cranor, co-author of the New York Times Bestseller – Welcome to Nightvale.
1644 Haight Street, San Francisco Saturday, August 27, 12pm – 3pm
1916 Risings Most Enigmatic Hero • August 21
An afternoon of conversation and reflections on the life of Roger Casement, one of the great heroes of the 1916 Rising by Diarmuid Philpott and Alan Lewis, song by Erin Thompson, readings by Josephine Coffey, Donagh McKeown & Valerie McGrew and a video presentation and celebrate the launch of Dying for Ireland: The Last Days of Roger Casement by San Francisco writer Alan Lewis. Mr. Lewis, the grandson of an Irish Jew, has been researching Casement’s life for more than a decade in hopes of bringing this remarkable story to American audiences. He will give a short reading and will be available for sales and signing.
August 21, 3-5pm at the United Irish Cultural Center – Sponsored by the Patrick J. Dowling Library
SF Labor History Walk • July 9
Part of SF LaborFest – with Lawrence Shoup and Peter O’Driscoll
San Francisco Waterfront Labor History Walk 1835 – 1934
There are many stories about labor struggles in San Francisco. The walk will focus on the maritime industry from 1835 until the burning of the blue book in 1934. Also, labor historian Larry Shoup will discuss the history of the 1901 transportation workers strike led by the Teamsters, which the San Francisco police attempted, but failed, to smash. After an over two-month long struggle, the workers emerged victorious, and the Union Labor Party won the election of 1901, taking control of the city. This was the first large city in the United States to have a union labor party in office. July 9 at 10:00 AM. Free. Meet at 75 Folsom St. – Entrance of Hills Brothers Coffee Building.
Bloomsday Lunch • June 16th
Eat, Read, Walk on the Wild Side of Dublin! A special Bloomsday menu will be served with community readings of Ulysses by James Joyce and lively conversation. Bring your books and favorite passages – Bloomsday attire is welcome.
Thursday, June 16, 2016 – 12:00pm at the Mechanics’ Institute, SF. Admission includes lunch and libations. more…
Wilde Irish Bloomsday • June 16
Join Wilde Irish Productions for an evening of performed readings from James Joyce’s illustrious masterpiece Ulysses. Music by Shay Black of the Black Brothers. Admission is free and open to all. San Francisco Main Public Library (Latino Hispanic Community Room) 6pm more
Bloomsday Lunch Event • June 16
Eat, Read, Walk on the Wild Side of Dublin! A special Bloomsday menu will be served with community readings of Ulysses by James Joyce and lively conversation. Bring your books and favorite passages – Bloomsday attire is welcome.
Thursday, June 16, 2016 – 12:00pm at the Mechanics’ Institute, SF. Admission includes lunch and libations. more…
Bay Area Book Festival, Berkeley • June 4, 5
The Bay Area Book Festival returns to downtown Berkeley the weekend of June 4-5. The two-day, free festival will welcome 280 local, national, and international authors and speakers in 120 literary sessions (panels, interviews, keynotes and performances) throughout a 10-block radius of downtown Berkeley. Organizers expect to top last year’s attendance of 50,000 visitors.
Big names include Sherman Alexie, Richard Russo, Dana Spiotta, Colm Tóibín and Jacqueline Winspear. On June 4th Colm Tóibín will be joined by Irish writers Sara Baume and Belinda McKeon. more
June 4th: May the Road Rise Up to Meet You: Ireland and the Nurturance of Its Writers
June 5th: Freedom to Write, Perchance to Dream. Colm Tóibín in conversation with UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, introduced by Cherilyn Parsons, festival founder and director.
Colm Tóibín, author of “Nora Webster,” “The Master,” “Brooklyn,” and many other books, delivered the Arthur Miller “Freedom to Write” address that caps each year’s PEN World Voices Festival. Chancellor Dirks leads a university that launched the Free Speech movement and is ranked the top public university in the world. In this conversation, they explore why intellectual and creative liberty matters so much and where we need to agitate today. more
Voices of the Easter Rising 1916 • April 28
(event has passed) Voices of the Easter Rising 1916: A Theatrical Evening of Irish Poetry, Stories and Song at the Mechanics’ Institute, San Francisco expresses the passions of poets, protesters and activists in the quest for independence. more
Matt Horton, ILHS Speaker • April 24
Matt Horton is a doctoral candidate in Social & Cultural Studies at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. His research is at the nexus of Critical Whiteness Studies and Irish Studies, and he is currently working on a dissertation about “Protestant” Irish Nationalists.
Horton’s talk is titled: “The Gravesite of Thomas Desmond, legendary Fenian and veteran of the Fremantle Mission”. He will view the social and political history of the Irish Republican movement in California through the gravesite of Thomas Desmond, legendary Fenian and veteran of the Fremantle Mission. It will consider the historical context of nineteenth century Irish California and the development of the Fenian movement here, Desmond’s early life in California, his participation in the famous jailbreak, his thirty year political career in San Francisco that followed, his legacy, and the centrality of his grave as a site for commemorating the Easter Rising today. UICC, 3:00PM (please note time change)
Discussion on Thomas Cahill’s Novel • April 25
Join us to discuss Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization. In his entertaining and compelling narrative, Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era and argues that, without the help of Irish monks and Irish culture, that transition could not have taken place. Discussion led by Lynn Harris. more
Word for Word Performances
To April 3rd. Word for Word‘s latest full production features performances of stories by Emma Donoghue and Colm Tóibín at Z Space, Florida St. San Francisco, from Feb 24 – April 3. Use code “ICBA” for $5 discount on tickets. See dates
“Night Vision”, Directed by Becca Wolff
Emma Donoghue’s “Night Vision”, from The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits, tells of young, blind Frances Browne who thrived on education when it was allowed her, and whose determination made her one of Ireland’s most renowned poets.
“Silence”, Directed by Jim Cave
In “Silence”, from The Empty Family, Tóibín recreates the story of the transient and intense love-affair between Lady Gregory and the young poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. Their affair was secret, but partially revealed in the love-poems she gave him to publish as his own work. Her self-containment and reserved passion are impressively imagined: women’s interior lives are one of Tóibín’s great strengths. These stories combine to provide an evening showing the power of the word, the thirst for learning, and the profound desire to create. more
Women’s Roles in the 1916 Rising • March 31, April 2
Sinéad McCoole has published No Ordinary Women: Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923 and Hazel: a Life of Lady Lavery, as well as Easter Widows: 7 Women who Lived in the Shadow of the Easter Rising. She is currently director of the Jackie Clarke collection.
As a curator, she has originated and collaborated on a number of important exhibitions on Irish history and Irish art both in Ireland and the US. Her areas of expertise include The Rising, the War of Independence, and Civil War, with an emphasis on the role of women. Sinéad is currently the Curatorial Advisor to Ireland’s 2016 Centenary Programme.
On April 2, during the 1916 Easter Rising Centennial Commemoration Event Series at the Poet and Patriot in Santa Cruz, there will be a reading of Easter Widows, and a conversation with Sinéad McCoole. 1:30 PM- 3PM
Elaine Feeney Poetry Reading • March 24
Elaine Feeney is part of a new movement of political poetry in Ireland and has been called “the freshest, most engaging and certainly the most provocative poet to come out of Ireland in the last decade.” Her writing has been published widely in literary magazines, journals and anthologies and has been translated into many languages. Her next collection, Rise, is forthcoming. West Portal 7pm. more
Passing of a Local Gem
Writer, singer and actress Renée Gibbons passed away December 20th after a long battle with cancer. See obituary and memorial details here
Born in a Dublin tenement, she escaped to Paris when she was seventeen where she fell in with actors, writers and musicians. Restless and full of dreams she spent years working her way around the world. On a ship bound for Egypt with her year-old daughter Aisling she met and fell in love with a longshoreman from San Francisco, the city where she spent the rest of her life. Her memoir, ‘Longing for Elsewhere‘, explores the themes entangled in her journey: identity, adventure, creativity, the burden of history and the passion for justice. more on Renée
A celebration of Renée’s life will be held on Friday February 5, 2:00 PM at the San Francisco Columbarium, One Loraine Court, San Francisco . Obituary
ILHS Annual Banquet • Mar 13
Guest speaker Professor Bob Tracy will talk about The Proclamation of the Irish Republic as both a work of literature written by poets, and a political document modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and emphasizing civil rights, women suffrage, and of course independence from foreign rule.Don’t miss this “Poetry and Politics: The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic” with presentation by Professor Tracy, and performances by special music guests Kyle Alden singer and guitarist, and Catherine John, fiddler and vocalist. more
Family Stories Workshop • March 13
Irish-American Crossroads is pleased to once again present author and educator, Margaret Cooley, as she teaches this popular facilitated workshop on the research and composition of family histories.
Participants will receive a genealogy search form to fill out and return no later than one week before the workshop. Margaret will bring the results of the search to the workshop. Participants may also bring a family photograph or record. Margaret will assist them in using vital records and photographs to begin to tell their family stories and make their own books. more
Author Timothy Egan • March 2
Part of the 1916 Easter Rising Centennial Commemoration Event Series at Mechanics’ Institute, co-sponsored with the Irish-American Crossroads Festival, Irish Literary and Historical Society, Humanities West.
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero
Timothy Egan tells the Irish American story through the life of Thomas Francis Meagher. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America.
Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, a New York Times columnist, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in nonfiction, and the author of seven books, most recently Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher. His previous books include The Worst Hard Time, which won a National Book Award, and the national bestseller The Big Burn. more
ILHS Series with Author Ethel Rohan • Feb 28
Ethel Rohan, a Dublin native and San Francisco resident, is an award-winning author that focuses on writing from emotional experience versus actual experience. Writers are all too familiar with the golden rule ‘Write What You Know.’ The adage rightly champions honesty and authenticity in writing, but can also hamper and even shutdown writers’ creativity. Fiction writers who try to adhere to only writing what they know are often faced with dilemmas: I’m a woman, but want to write from the point-of-view of a male character. I’m White, so does that mean I can’t write from the point-of-view of a Black character? I’ve never flown a plane, but really want to write this great story about a pilot. For memoir and non-fiction writers, there are also dilemmas around memory, perspective, and fact versus truth. For Ethel, this particular golden rule is better understood and more useful artistically when it’s qualified to ‘Write What You Know Emotionally.’
Ethel Rohan’s debut novel, The Kingdom Keeper, will publish from St. Martin’s Press, 2017. She is also the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. An award-winning story and memoir writer, her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, PEN America, Tin House Online, Guernica Magazine, BREVITY Magazine, The Rumpus, and more. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she lives in San Francisco. Visit Ethel Rohan’s website here
United Irish Cultural Center, SF at 5pm
Joyce Discussion, Mechanics’ SF • Feb 24
Widely considered to be one of the best English-language novels of the 20th century, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will be discussed over two meetings of the World Literature Book Group. This modernist bildungsroman traces the religious and intellectual evolution of Stephen Dedalus. Joyce’s debut novel uses literary techniques the author would develop further in his later works, and concerns the awakening and self-exile of Joyce’s fictional alter ego – who will appear again in Ulysses. more
ILHS Speaker Series • January 31, 2016
The deep and varied story of the Irish in San Francisco is intrinsic to the history, character, and physical structure of the City, yet the Irish barely register in popular conceptions of San Francisco’s general history. In this sense the story of Irish San Francisco is a hidden story, kept alive in the memory of succeeding generations, and represented in a few very visible monuments with deep historical and personal resonance.
One such monument is Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Chinatown. The structure was the largest building in the City when it was completed in 1854 in the raucous Barbary Coast era, at the very beginnings of American San Francisco. Standing at the head of the first block of the steep rise of California Street on Nob Hill, it rests prominently positioned above the forest of buildings that steadily grew into an orderly and sober downtown in succeeding years.Old Saint Mary’s served as a key seat of institutional power in the early development of the City and the greater West, and as an important focus of community for a significant portion of the population for generations.
Beyond the story of the church itself and its features and biographical details, Old Saint Mary’s has broader significance as a metaphor for a history nearly unknown in the City the Irish helped build, with the remains of Kathleen Sullivan, the Irish benefactor, interred in the basement of her Irish church, hidden in plain sight.
United Irish Cultural Center, SF at 5pm
Poetry Reading, Berkeley • January 15
Judy Wells was born in San Francisco and raised in Martinez, California. She taught writing and literature at Bay Area colleges before a career as an Academic Counselor in the School of Extended Education at Saint Mary’s College of California, and as a faculty member of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. She has published eleven collections of poetry including: I Dream of Circus Characters, Little Lulu Talks with Vincent Van Gogh, Call Home, and Everything Irish. She was honored in 2015 to read at the San Francisco Crossroads Irish-American Festival from her latest collection, The Glass Ship, in which an imaginary woman sailing captain visits a series of magical, “other world” islands. Her works-in-progress include her New England to California Dickinson ancestor project and “Senior Moments: The Old People Monologues.”
Dale Jensen was born in Oakland, California, graduated from UC Berkeley, and received a master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Toronto, with which he said goodbye to academia forever. In 1999, when he took early retirement from a twenty-five year career with Social Security. He lives in Berkeley.
Dale’s poetry, which is heavily influenced by the Surrealists and such cut-up writers as William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, has appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies. He published and edited the experimental poetry magazine Malthus from 1986 through 1989 and published several books through Malthus Press. He also has published six books and three chapbooks of poetry, including Purgatorial (2004), Cyclone Fence (2007), Oedipus’ First Lover (2009), Auto Bio (2010), and Yew Nork (2014). He is currently working on a new book and a series of coffeehouse poems.
Judy Wells and Dale Jensen will read at 7 pm on Friday, January 15, 2016, at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave., Berkeley.
Crossroads Salon – Oakland, December 13
The upcoming Crossroads Salon on December 13 features artist Flora Skivington who will show her film, Oscar and Isabelle. Set on the coastline of Northern Ireland and narrated by the consciousness of the house, Oscar & Isabelle details the end of a fifty-year-old love affair between Isabelle, a retired music hall singer, and Oscar, her 150 year-old house.
The Crossroads Salon is a forum for writers and artists who have Irish or Irish-American heritages or are interested in exploring Irish-American themes, as well as for readers and viewers who want to participate in this exploration. Participants are asked to bring work or questions related to the theme of place. How do you relate to place? How does place inform your sense of self, community or belonging? How does a sense of place relate to Irish or Irish-American identity and the books we choose to read/art that we choose to view? Each participant’s offering is limited to 8-10 minutes. See calendar for more information.
ILHS Speaker Series • November 22
Kathleen Walkup, Professor of Book Art, Mills College, Oakland presents a talk titled: Pulling the Devil by the Tail: Cuala Press, Elizabeth Corbet Yeats and the Ghost of Albert Bender on Sunday November 22 2015, UICC at 5pm
One of the more iconic images in the history of printing is that of Elizabeth Corbet Yeats, dressed in a long smock, printing at an Albion handpress. Behind her a woman is preparing to ink the press; in front of her another woman sits at a table reading proofs. The image is often seen as an example of the genteel art of amateur printing by the ‘ladies’, part of the move toward finding ways for the privileged women of the Arts & Crafts era to keep themselves occupied. In fact that reading could not be further from the truth.
In 1902 Elizabeth became a printer and proprietor of what would become Cuala Press, an Irish private press whose editor was her brother, William Butler Yeats. In 1922, Elizabeth began a correspondence with the Irish-American collector Albert Bender. This correspondence lasted until her death in 1940. Some fifty-five letters from Elizabeth to Bender have survived and are housed at Mills College. This talk will examine the history and legacy of Elizabeth Corbet Yeats and Cuala Press, with a particular focus on her correspondence with Bender. The paper will also draw on research at the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and Boston College.
Kathleen Walkup is Professor of Book Art and Director of the Book Art Program at Mills College, where she teaches typography and letterpress printing, artists’ bookmaking and seminar/studio courses that combine print culture and book history with studio projects. She is also Book Art Director for the MFA in Book Art & Creative Writing, the first such program in the country. Her research interests include the history of women in print culture and conceptual practice in artists’ books. Her most recent curatorial project is Hand, Voice & Vision: Artists’ Books from Women’s Studio Workshop (Grolier Club, New York, 2010; it is still travelling). Her talk, The Book is a Public Place, will be published in the anthology Threads in 2016. In 2015 she was a Stephen Botein Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society. She is a co-founder of College Book Art Association. For the past seven years she has written a seasonal blog, New Irish Journal.
ILHS Speaker Series • November 1
This month at the Irish Literary and Historical Society’s monthly speaker series, Clare Moriarty will speak about “Berkeley’s Marvelous Mathematics”. George Berkeley is undoubtedly Ireland’s most celebrated philosopher, but his role in the history of mathematics is less renowned. In a heated debate between the British and Continental academies over who truly invented calculus (between Newton and Leibniz), Berkeley’s contribution was to publicly scorn the intelligibility of the theory. The speaker’s interest is in Berkeley’s unusual motivation in these attacks, which seem to be the result of learning that certain mathematicians had been ridiculing religion on the basis of its ‘unintelligible’ ideas. Despite majority agreement that Berkeley’s mathematical criticism was correct, and instrumental in guiding the project of fixing early calculus, the question remains as to whether Berkeley cared more about sticking his finger in people’s eyes than he did about the mathematics. Clare Moriarty is a doctoral candidate at King’s College, London, and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley.
Saint Francis Room, UICC. Sunday, November 1, UICC at 5pm. (previously scheduled for October 25th) Presented by the Irish Literary and Historical Society
Readings of Emma Donoghue’s Works • Oct 18
Word for Word Performing Arts Company is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction. Join them on Sunday, October 18 at 3 p.m., for a reading of “The Long Way Home,” set in 1870’s Arizona – a great piece by the brilliant Ms. Donoghue. Z Below, 470 Florida, SF – more
Litquake 2015 •
October 15 • Original Shorts: Love-Hate
One of the many Litquake 2015 events features Dubliner and SF resident Ethel Rohan. Ethel’s first novel, The Kingdom Keeper, will publish from St. Martin’s Press in early 2017. She is also the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Original Shorts: Love-Hate, Make-Out Room San Francisco, Thursday October 15, 2015 @ 7PM
more Litquake events
From Hardback to Hollywood: The Expansive Career of Dennis Lehane
Event takes place at Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Oct 12. Irish American author Dennis Lehane has had the kind of career most authors would kill for. Already riding high with a string of New York Times bestsellers, Lehane found his door being knocked upon by Hollywood producers hungry for his novels’ dark plots, unforgettable characters, and cinematic thrills. From the multi-Oscar-winning Mystic River (for which he was nominated for adapted screenplay) to Gone Baby Gone to Shutter Island and The Drop, Lehane is increasingly in demand in the film industry, including writing gigs for acclaimed series such as The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. On October 12 Lehane will discuss his book-to-film career, as well as his most recent novel, World Gone By, with film noir expert Eddie Muller. Co-presented by the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.
Michael Parker on Seamus Heaney • October 6
“Facing the Music: Public Imperatives in Seamus Heaney’s Late Poetry”
A talk and presentation by Michael Parker, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Central Lancashire. Parker is wide-ranging scholar of modern and contemporary literature, who is completing a major critical monograph entitled Seamus Heaney: Legacies, Afterlives.
Parker’s visit to UC Berkeley will be a double event. First, he will give a talk entitled “Facing the Music: Public Imperatives in Seamus Heaney’s Late Poetry.” And then he will present Noli Timere: Reflections on the Life and Work of Seamus Heaney, a multi-media performance work on Heaney, including readings, commentaries, music, and video.
Tuesday, October 6 4 pm — 6 pm. English Department, 322 Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-1030
Hilary McColum Reading, September 12
Everything that mattered to Frances Moriarty was left behind in famine-ravaged Ireland, including the love of her life. Beset with grief and guilt, she is scraping out a shadowy existence as a New York shoeshine boy when word spreads: gold lines the riverbeds of California. Determined to find her fortune, Frances sets out on the overland trek to California’s gold fields. But her steps are haunted by the past. A free event at the New Conservatory Theatre celebrating the American launch of Hilary McCollum‘s historical novel, Golddigger, a love story and epic quest spanning the California gold rush and Irish famine.
Ahead of LGBT history month, Irish writer Hilary McCollum explores the role of fiction and drama in reclaiming lost LGBT lives and filling in the gaps in LGBT history. At this event, Hilary will discuss the hidden histories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. No RSVP required.
Reading at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre where “For the Love of Comrades” runs through October 11 more
See calendar for details and tickets
Philip Mullen on Edwardian Dublin • September 27
It’s well known that James Joyce was meticulous in researching the details for the recreation of his beloved Dublin in Ulysses, but even the great writers sometimes get it wrong. Mr. Bloom’s Potato is a light-hearted look at a some of Joyce’s mistakes and a few hidden details that his readers could not possibly have been expected to notice. Such as: Who is Parnell’s brother’s unnamed chess opponent? How could Joyce, of all people, get the two Dublin canals confused, and what is Mr. Bloom doing with that potato?
The Irish Literary & Historical Society Speaker Series will resume on Sunday, September 27, 2015 with “Mr Bloom’s Potato.” Dublin-based independent scholar Philip Mullen will discuss intricate details of Edwardian Dublin as they are reflected in James Joyce’s Ulysses, as well as some of the things Joyce gets wrong.
Philip Mullen, a native of Dublin, has a life long passion for James Joyce’s fiction, is a member of The Joyce Institute, and co-founder of The Diddlem Club, who have been involved in Bloomsday street performances for over twenty-five years.
United Irish Cultural Center, September 27th at 5pm. See ILHS
Crossroads Salon, Oakland • August 30
The Crossroads Salon is a forum for writers/artists who have Irish or Irish-American heritages or are interested in exploring Irish-American themes, as well as for readers/viewers who want to participate in this exploration.
This month’s Salon features Linda Norton who will read from her forthcoming work, Dark White.
Crossroads Salon organizers ask that participants bring work or questions related to the theme of place: How do you relate to place? How does place inform your sense of self, community or belonging? How does a sense of place relate to Irish or Irish-American identity and the books we choose to read? In addition, please bring work from a writer/artist about a relationship to place that especially resonates with you. Each participant’s offering is limited to 8-10 minutes long. see calendar August 30 for details
14th Annual Bloomsday Celebration • June 16
(event has passed) 14th Annual Bloomsday Celebration: Re-Joyce in the Stacks. Muses, Music and Dramatic Readings from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Co-sponsored by the Mechanics’ Institute, the Irish Literary & Historical Society and Irish American Crossroads.
Sojourn though the streets of Dublin with Leopold Bloom and other characters featured in James Joyce’s quintessential novel Ulysses and other works. The evening includes dramatic readings and song performed by Bruce Bierman, John Ilyin, Esther Mulligan, Melanie O’Reilly, Josiah Polhemus, and Laura Sheppard. Fiddler Anne Goess and musicians offer lively accompaniment with a selection of traditional and well known Irish music.
See calendar for details – advance reservations required.
Bloomsday Celebration at the UICC • June 16
(event has passed) Celebrate the life and work of Irish writer James Joyce at the Patrick J. Dowling Library at the United Irish Cultural Center of California. Read an excerpt from Ulysses yourself! Or listening to others read. Be part of the worldwide Bloomsday celebrations held in Dublin, San Francisco, and throughout the world. Readings will be limited to five minutes per person. Period costume is encouraged, but not required. more
Crossroads Salon: John Norton, open mic June 7
Join Crossroads at Intersection for the Arts in the Mission for their second Salon, featuring John Norton.
Author of poetry collections Air Transmigra (2010), Re: Marriage (2000), The Light at the End of the Bog (1989) and Posthum(or)ous (1985), John is a past winner of the American Book Award, and has served as Board President for Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center and the Irish Arts Foundation.
Reading from John’s work will be followed by an open mic session where participants can present work that can be read and/or performed in a 5-7 minute window.
The Crossroads Salon is a forum to highlight and explore the work of local writers and artists who either have Irish or Irish-American heritages or are interested in exploring Irish-American themes. See calendar for details.
Irish Hill – Potrero’s Lost Neighborhood • May 17
The Irish Literary and Historical Society welcomes local historian Steven Fidel Herraiz who will discuss Irish Hill, a 1860-1918 Irish neighborhood near San Francisco’s shipyards. This neighborhood was known for its infamous saloons, bare-knuckle boxing matches, and boarding houses. Steven brings it all to life with his research, archived news clippings and photographs. St. Francis Room, United Irish Cultural Center. ILHS members free; visitors $5.
Miracles of Development: From Irish Pigs to Celtic Tigers
April 26th. The Irish Literary & Historical Society presents Professor Sarah Townsend as guest speaker on April 26th, at the United Irish Cultural Center. A lighthearted and erudite exploration of representations of the animals applied to the Irish from the 19th century through the recent economic crisis.
This talk examines Patrick McCabe’s 1992 novel The Butcher Boy and Enda Walsh’s 1996 play Disco Pigs, arguing that the two works deploy and upturn pig stereotypes in order to critique late twentieth-century Irish gentrification. Through their protagonists’ pig-themed defiance and ultimate violence, which borrow elements from both the American counterculture and the imperial archive, McCabe and Walsh demonstrate the long effects of porcine Irish stereotypes that emerged in colonial racial discourses and reappear in contemporary discussions about the Celtic Tiger and European debt. The two works challenge the aspirational consumerism of a bourgeois Ireland that would prefer to forget its rural and colonial past, as well as the capriciousness of a global capitalist culture that alternatingly rewards and punishes excessive consumption.
Sarah L. Townsend is an Assistant Professor in English at the University of South Dakota. She specializes in modern and contemporary Anglophone literature with an emphasis in Irish Studies. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on British and Irish modernism, contemporary fiction and drama, Anglophone world literature, postcolonialism, and human rights. Her work appears in the Journal of Modern Literature, Modern Drama, and the edited collection Animals in Irish Culture. She is completing her first monograph, supported by a 2014-15 Visiting Fellowship at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, which examines Irish literature’s radical transformation of developmental discourses during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She received her Ph D in English from UC Berkeley.
more on the Irish Literary and Historical Society
You Don’t Look Irish
A Reading and Conversation with Multiracial Writers of Irish Heritage.
Friday, March 27. USF (event has passed) Irish-American Crossroads Festival
“You don’t look Irish!” is a comment some of the featured authors have heard about their Irish heritage, if they are bi-racial or multi-racial. Words like these, from a schoolteacher, prompted Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu to write about the experience of growing up as an Irish-Japanese American. A similar comment to Leslie Ryan’s first grader son from a Mom at school, prompted her to write her children’s book “I am Flippish” (Filipino-Irish). During our reading you’ll hear from writers of various multi-racial backgrounds, all of whom claim Irish heritage. Sometimes the authors’ writing deals head on with heritage, at other times the theme of heritage is just part of who the writer is. Come and listen to: Dylan Amaro-McIntyre, Caroline Mar, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, and Clare Ramsaran, four very different writers and join in the conversation about what Irish heritage “looks like” in the 21st Century.
Saint Patrick’s Day 2015 Readings
La Movida Wine Bar, 3066 24th St. Noe Valley. The popular reading series celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with an all-Irish lineup of writers: Emer Martin (Baby Zero), Eanlai Cronin (Girl in Irish), Michael Sheahan (Once Upon A Clock), Alan O’Gorman and others. Guest MCd by virtuoso fiddler Colm O’Riain (Bridge Across the Blue). website
Folio Books, 24th St. Noe Valley, SF – 7-9pm. Part of Noe Valley’s 9th annual literary festival Word Week, Irish and Irish American Writers celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with by reading — and singing —from their work. Readers are Renee Gibbons, Byddi Lee, Noe Valley’s Mary Jo McConahay, Ethel Rohan, and Eddie Stack. Free Irish music, food, and drink. Folio Books 3957 24th St. SF . website
Ralph Josiah Bardsley, SF Main Library 6pm
Brothers is Ralph Josiah Bardsley’s debut novel about the Corks and the Malloys, two sets of brothers growing up in the Irish American enclave of South Boston. The story examines the strong bonds of brotherhood in Irish families and how those relationships shape the coming out experience for gay Irish Catholics in America. Born into an Irish American family in a small town outside of Boston, Ralph Josiah grew up as a Coast Guard brat, wandering around helicopter hangers in New Orleans, Cape Cod, coastal North Carolina, and Sitka, Alaska. He currently resides in San Francisco and Boston with his husband and partner of more than fourteen years, Dana Short. Main Library, Civic Center, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco.