Symposium Commemorates Start of Irish Fight For Independence

  • Roy Foster
    Roy Foster courtesy photo.
  • Sebastian Barry
    Sebastian Barry courtesy photo.
March 18, 2016

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Contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (March 18, 2016) – This Easter Monday, many of us will be enjoying a day off. But on that day 100 years ago in Ireland, there was a rebellion that would lead to Irish independence from Britain.

Baylor University is hosting an Easter Rising Centenary Symposium on Monday, March 21, and Tuesday, March 22, in Bennett Auditorium.

"The symposium is meant to commemorate and recall the Easter Rising of 1916, during which Irish rebels took over the General Post Office in Dublin and declared their independence from Britain," said Richard Russell, Ph.D., professor in the English department of the College of Arts & Sciences. "Their rebellion was quickly put down and the male leaders were executed by the British, but the Rising helped spark Irish independence, which came in 1922."

Students who attend the symposium will learn more about Irish history and literature than the simple stereotypes about Ireland and the Irish people peddled around St. Patrick's Day, Russell said.

The symposium's speakers, both from Ireland, will be Roy Foster and Sebastian Barry. Foster, W.B. Yeats' official biographer and an Irish historian who teaches at Oxford, will begin the symposium with a lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, March 21.

"Roy Foster is one of the leading Irish historians in the world," said Russell. "He is also a leading revisionist historian who has refused to accept simple nationalist pieties and abstractions about Irish history and revealed the many forces at work in that history, particularly around such events as the Easter Rising."

Foster's new book, "Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923," tells the forgotten histories of those who helped create the conditions for the Rising, including ordinary men and women reacting against the Catholic Church and British imperialism, who were drawn variously to socialism and feminism, Russell said.

Foster will give a talk with Sebastian Barry at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22. Barry, an award-winning novelist, poet and playwright, will give a reading at 7 p.m.

"Sebastian Barry has become one of the leading Irish writers," Russell said. "After starting out with a career as a dramatist, especially with such plays as 'The Steward of Christendom,' he turned to poetry, and more recently, to the novel, writing a series of novels that treat, as did his dramas and poetry, occluded histories and marginal characters in Irish society such as Protestants, women and the abandoned.

"I think all attendees will come away from the symposium with a greatly enriched understanding of the various forces in Irish history and literature that have made it such a complex and dark, yet endearing country for so many," he said.

All events are free and open to the public. Books by each speaker will be for sale at each event.

Bennett Auditorium is connected to Draper Academic Building at 1420 S. Seventh St., Waco, Texas 76798.

by Jenna Press, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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