Posted: 00:00 IST
A series of illustrated talks in Boston and New York next week will celebrate the work of one of Ireland's most important writers, John McGahern. The events will be hosted by the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), which is home to John McGahern's archive of papers and manuscripts.
Selected documents from the archive will be showcased during the US events which are entitled 'John McGahern in America'. This is the first time extracts of the John McGahern archive have gone on tour outside of Ireland.
Prior to his passing in 2006, NUI Galway acquired John McGahern's archive, which is a complete collection of his papers and writings, providing an unparalleled view into a unique literary life. This extensive resource, comprising thousands of pages, is enormously rich in content and consists of forty years of writings, personal papers, correspondence, novels, drama, and short stories. Also included are short stories that appeared in The New Yorker magazine between 1963 and 1984.
Dr John Kenny, Lecturer in Creative Writing at NUI Galway, commented in advance of the tour: "As these lectures will elucidate, many of McGahern's most significant short stories and literary subjects found their early iterations in the pages of some of America's most notable literary magazines and journals – The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and The Yale Review. Thus this lecture series is especially fitting as it travels to Boston and New York - cities which are home to the literary forums which fostered and supported the work of this unique artist".
The reputation of John McGahern (1934–2006) as a consummate stylist and master of fiction extends throughout the English-speaking world. The setting of his work, comprising six novels, three collections of short stories, a play and a memoir - ranges from the rural west of Ireland to Dublin and abroad, but returns always to the inland fields, lakes and bogs of Connaught and the lives of the people rooted there.
President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, explains the association the University values with John McGahern: "Our University is fortunate to have enjoyed a progressively deepening association with John McGahern over almost 50 years. This association started during the brief period of his initial undergraduate studies and continued again when he became a teacher on Creative Writing and Irish Studies programmes. In 1994 he became an honorary doctor of the University and Adjunct Professor of Irish Studies in 2001".
Dr Browne adds: "By choosing NUI Galway in the West of Ireland as the home for his literary archive, McGahern has entrusted us with a special responsibility. We must endeavour to make this resource available, as appropriate, to literary scholarship and interested readers. The University intends to promote and build upon the unique treasury we have in the McGahern Archive to enhance teaching and research in creative writing and Irish Studies".
NUI Galway attracts doctoral students and visiting academics from all over the world to conduct research in the area of Irish Studies. The extensive McGahern archive is a hugely significant attraction to many such international scholars, enhancing the University's reputation as a world-class centre of literary research and study.
To support literary scholarship, NUI Galway plans to invest significantly in its Library resources to ensure that scholars have the best environment in which to conduct their teaching and research. A proposed $25 million Humanities Research Building will provide world class facilities for researchers and a state of the art repository for the University's significant archival holdings.
The 'John McGahern in America' events are supported by the Galway University Foundation. In Boston, special guests will include the President of Boston Public Library, Amy Ryan, while in New York the American Irish Historical Society will co-host.