Interesting speakers and lively debates at O'Connell school
A HIGH Court judge, a legendary Kerry footballer and leading university historians are just some of the key speakers who will grace the impressive Daniel O'Connell Heritage Summer School in south west Kerry this weekend.
Featuring key lectures and lively discussion, summer schools have become common place across Ireland in recent years with many even guiding government agendas in the process and this weekend south west Kerry will be a hotbed of debate that will match the best of them.
Based in Cahersiveen and Derrynane, The Daniel O'Connell Heritage Summer School was originally held in the 1980s and was revived last year by an ambitious committee led by Mary O'Connor, Derrynane, and Junior Murphy, Cahersiveen.
It proved a major success and this Friday and Saturday, August 29-30, the school returns bigger and better than ever before.
It's the range of topics that's so impressive and the life and legacy of Daniel O'Connell is just one of the themes under the microscope as hundreds of history buffs and O'Connell fans from across Ireland and beyond are expected to descend on south Kerry.
"Unlike the McGill and Parnell Summer Schools, the Daniel O'Connell School will not deal with a specific theme - instead we offer a mix of lectures which deal with aspects of O'Connell's career and how these influence life in modern Ireland," school director Professor Maurice Bric states.
The Cahersiveen native points to several key topics that are sure to generate informed discussion.
"For example, Professor John Coolahan will talk about the establishment of the national schools system and O'Connell's role in bringing this about, while Professor Aine Hyland will talk about educational challenges in modern Ireland.
"Similarly, we have a section on 'Ireland and Europe' which will examine these relationships in both a historical and contemporary setting and the second of these lectures will be given by Professor Brigid Laffan of the European University who is also a native of Cahersiveen."
There will be lectures too on WWI and its impact on Kerry, as well as discussion on Irish history between 1916 and 1921 and just how it is remembered.
"Commemoration and memory are an important feature of public debate at the moment and we hope not only to address this but to relate it to the history of Kerry," Professor Bric adds.
Mary O'Connor said the key to the school is in celebrating it's Kerry roots and this will form a common thread thoughout the discussions and lectures.
"Our local committees have been hard at work for several months to ensure that it will be enjoyable and we all take pride in offering a great community event, complete with musical entertainment, too."
Junior Murphy, meanwhile, says that while the school will offer a number of lectures of historical interest, one of the highlights will be a talk by Mick O'Connell at Con Keating GAA grounds, while the Bishop of Kerry will also celebrate a Mass in remembrance of O'Connell.
"Everybody is welcome and if last year's event is anything to go by, everybody will enjoy it," he adds.
The school has support from Kerry County Council, the OPW and venues such as Derrynane House but is mainly funded by local subscriptions.