January 2014        

O’Flaherty Summer School

At last weekend’s well-attended AGM of the Liam and Tom O’Flaherty Society in Galway it was agreed to follow up last year’s hugely successful summer school with one again this year.
      Naturally it will be held once more on Inis Mór, the birthplace of these two great writers, on the last weekend in August, Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st. The programme will include a session on the First World War. Liam O’Flaherty not only fought in that war, and was wounded and also suffered severe shell shock, but he was also the first Irish writer to write a novel about the war. Return of the Brute was published in 1929, the same year as another anti-war classic, All Quiet on the Western Front.
      Another talk will deal with Tom O’Flaherty’s articles in An tÉireannach, the radical newspaper of the 1930s. Tom’s writings are much less well known than his younger brother’s; nevertheless he was a prolific journalist in Ireland and especially in the United States, where he wrote and edited a host of progressive newspapers in English.
      Following this event there will be a guided walk to Tom’s grave.
      The final session of the weekend will be on “Mícheál Ó Maoláin: ceardchumannach as Árainn” and a genealogical study of the Ó Maoláin and O’Flaherty families. Mícheál Ó Maoláin may not be a household name (though he is on his native Aran) but he was a significant figure in the Dublin trade union movement, a contemporary of Liam O’Flaherty and Seán O’Casey, with whom he shared a flat. Both writers portrayed him in their work, the latter in his play Shadow of a Gunman.
      The summer school will also offer an opportunity to witness a dramatic reading of Liam O’Flaherty’s only play, Dorchadas. In both Dorchadas and the English version, Darkness, O’Flaherty contradicted the narrative that confined women in the Free State to the home and hearth as passive, disengaged reproducers of national identity, devoid of sexual freedom, sexual choice, authority, and public voice. No wonder that when it was staged twice in the Abbey Theatre in 1929 religious zealots attempted to disrupt the play.

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