All Things Considered @ UCC

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I was delighted to be invited to speak at the conference ‘All Things Considered… Material Culture and Memory’ at University College Cork at the weekend. It was an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures which looked at interactions between memory and the material world. I spoke about Parnell’s Walking Stick and its previous custodians, among them Brinsley MacNamara, W.R. Rogers, and Conor Cruise O’Brien. I took the opportunity to read some poems inspired by objects by two of the most recents holders of the Stick, Séamus Heaney and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. My thanks to the organisers, Dr Chiara Giuliani and Dr Kate Hodgson, for the kind invitation.

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Parnell’s Walking Stick

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Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh was recently presented with Parnell’s Walking Stick. Cut by Charles Stewart Parnell himself in Avondale Wood in 1889 or 1890, this stick has a rich literary history. It came into the possession of Brindsley MacNamara, who, in turn, gave it to the poet W.R. Rodgers. It was later passed on to Conor Cruise O’Brien, who conferred it on Séamus Heaney.  In 1998 Heaney entrusted it to Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and it was she who decided to bestow it on Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh. The presentation occurred in Poetry Ireland on Parnell Square at a reading of Ní Ghearbhuigh’s new collection, The Coast Road (The Gallery Press, 2016).