Irish Eyes Will Smile at Irish Studies Conference

By Gail Hairston

For the first time, the University of Kentucky is hosting the southern chapter of the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), March 9-11.

With over 50 speakers from 17 states and several speakers from Ireland, the event has something for anyone even slightly interested in the history and culture of “The Emerald Isle.”

“I am delighted that we are able to host — for the first time — the southern regional meeting of the Conference for Irish Studies here at the University of Kentucky,” UK English Professor Jonathan Allison said.

All events are free and open to members of both the UK and Lexington communities. Allison said he especially wants to invite students.  

Friday’s schedule includes the keynote address, poetry and music. Ronald Schuchard, the Goodrich C. White Professor of English Literature, Emeritus, at Emory University, will present the keynote address, “Spiritual Dramas: W. B. Yeats’s Conflicted Remembrance of the Tragic Generation” at 2 p.m. in the Margaret I. King Library Building. Joan McBreen of Galway, Ireland, and Heather Corbally Bryant, of Wellesley College, will read Irish poetry at 4 p.m. in the UK Art Museum. A reception at the Boone Center features live music by Maeve and Brendan Draper.

The highlight Saturday will be a reading by prize-winning novelist Patrick O’Keefe, author of “The Hill Road” and “The Visitors,” at 4 p.m., in 108 Jacobs Science Building, located at 680 Rose St. O’Keefe is a UK graduate of the Department of English, where he worked with James Baker Hall. After completing his master’s degree at the University of Michigan, he taught at Colgate University. He now teaches at Ohio University.

The ACIS was founded in 1960 as the American Committee for Irish Studies and is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a nonprofit organization. It promotes the study of Irish history, political science, anthropology, sociology and literature. It currently has a worldwide membership of over 800 members. The organization hosts a national conference annually, alternating between the U.S. and Ireland. It also hosts five regional conferences each year — Southern, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Western.

Organizers were particularly delighted that writer Patrick O’Keeffe will be making a return visit to Lexington. This is his first return to UK since graduation.

Learn more about the conference by visiting

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue


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