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Monday 9th October 2023 at 7pm CET

Symposium theme: Sustainability in Irish Culture

7-8th October 2023

The Princess Grace Irish Library, in collaboration and the Villanova University Center for Irish Studies hosted a symposium, 'Sustainability in Irish Culture - communication of sustainability through literature and culture'.  Invited were scholars, writers, and artists from Ireland and the diaspora to present and discuss priorities and strategies to address sustainability and climate change. Dr Lennon gave a lecture to Friends of the Library following the symposium and provided us with insight on the research undertaken and the conclusions from the participants.

Left to right: Susan Kelly vonMedicus and Dr Joseph Lennon, co-Directors of the Villanova University symosium hosted by the Princess Grace Irish Library 7-8 October 2023. Susan also manages events at the Kelly House (Philadelphia), the childhood home of Princess Grace on behalf of the Prince's Family.

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also provided framing goals for the symposium's discussions, which both shared strategies and offered critiques of existing policies, ideas, and practices across academic, media, and cultural organizations.  The meeting also involved a discussion of a new national policy framework being planned by the Irish Government’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on “culture, creativity and climate action.”  The overall goal of the symposium is to discuss how to encourage a sustainable future through Irish culture.  Symposium participants will submit work in early 2025 for a publication of the symposium’s findings.

Monday 9th October 2023 at 7pm

A lecture by Dr Lennon - PhD, Emily C. Riley Director, Center for Irish Studies, Villanova University

Image from “Sustainment Experiments: The PLOT” by Deirdre O’Mahony - more info HERE

Theme of talk on 9th October  By Dr Joseph Lennon

“In His Pocket, the Secret of Changing the Planet”:  Irish Arts, Culture, and Climate

This talk will explore a notable shift in Irish arts and literature in response to the ongoing global climate crisis.  The Irish Government has recently launched programs to support sustainability within Irish culture, sponsoring grants across the arts for individuals and organizations.  Unsurprisingly, Irish writers and artists have been at it for decades, representing it their works—but increasingly so in the last decade.  At times, writers and artists offer quiet reflections and other times they veer into what seems political advocacy and public art.  The type of art has engaged local communities, as with visual artist and curator, Deirdre O’Mahony, whose project “The PLOT,” a Sustainment Experiment, begins with the digging of a traditional potato ridge and moves toward lessons in regenerative agriculture.  Poets such as Catherine Phil MacCarthy depict ecological destruction and human migration while offering sustaining visions of the natural world and art and hope for change.  This cultural turn raises century-old questions about the relationship between art and politics—raised by Jean-Paul Sartre and famously noted by Seamus Heaney.  We will explore the role of artistic commitment as we consider how Irish artists and writers express their concern, anxieties, and hopes for a changing future.    


The Princess Grace Irish Library is delighted to collaborate on our second biennial symposium with the prestigious Villanova University Center for Irish Studies (Philadelphia), a leader for four decades in interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship on Ireland in a global framework. 

On Monday evening 9th October 2023, Dr Joseph Lennon, Director of the symposium delivered a lecture for Friends of the Library and interested academics around the world. He presented a summary of the scope, subjects and presentations of the symposium, which offers an opportunity to discuss priorities and strategies to address sustainability and climate change and the influence of Irish literature and culture on the narrative.  

Susan Kelly vonMedicus professor at Villanova University Center for Irish Studies and co-Director of this year's symposiium with one of her art creations , which is now on permanent display at the Princess Grace Irish Library

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