The 2012 International John McGahern Seminar

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

NUI Galway and Leitrim County Council have announced that the sixth International John McGahern Seminar, commemorating the work of the renowned Irish writer, will take place from 24-26 May in Co. Leitrim.

“The literary, historical and environmental aspects of McGahern’s work will be the focus this year, and the keynote lecture will be given by Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin and a regular broadcaster on RTÉ television and radio,” explains NUI Galway’s Dr John Kenny, Academic Director of the Seminar.

The Seminar includes a rich variety of lectures, open discussions, readings, tours and book launches. The Chinese-American writer, Yiyun Li, will talk about McGahern’s work and will discuss and read from her own fiction. Winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2005, Li made a special recording of one of McGahern’s masterpiece stories, ‘The Wine Breath’, for The New Yorker in 2009, a podcast of which can be listened to at Other speakers at the event will include Professor Joe Cleary of NUI Maynooth and Yale University, Professor Eamonn Wall of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and author and former Irish Times journalist, Paddy Woodworth, who will give a talk about McGahern and the relationship between landscape and literature.  

The preeminent scholar of McGahern’s work, Denis Sampson, will be giving a public interview about his new book, Young John McGahern: Becoming a Novelist, recently published by Oxford University Press, and another established McGahern scholar, Dr Stanley van der Ziel, will be providing the talk for the Seminar launch of the book. Dr Frank Shovlin of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool will give a lecture about the influence of James Joyce on John McGahern and will also be launching his new book, Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival, for which Professor Emeritus in History at NUI Galway, Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, will provide the talk.

The Seminar will also include a feature discussion by Cormac O’Malley about his father, Ernie O’Malley, whose writing was much admired by McGahern. There will be visits, guided by local historian Dr Frank Brennan, to places around Aughawillan, Ballinamore and Mohill important to the author’s life and works, and also a boat trip to Cootehall in Co. Roscommon where writers and readers groups from the region will give public readings from McGahern’s autobiography, Memoir. The archaeologist Chris Read will follow his talk about the landscape around Fenagh, where McGahern lived, with a field trip to a number of significant archaeological sites in South Leitrim.

Announcing the McGahern events, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Through the International John McGahern Seminar, we at NUI Galway are working to broaden access to literary scholarship and to share the riches of the McGahern archive with the widest possible audience. In holding this valuable archive in the West of Ireland, we feel that the University is holding in trust a treasure for the world of literary scholarship, for the Irish nation and most especially for this region which we have served for more than 160 years. I wish the 2012 International McGahern Seminar every success and I welcome the continued partnership of Leitrim County Council in this culturally important endeavour.”

Speaking at the launch of the 2012 programme, Leitrim County Manager, Jackie Maguire, said: “Leitrim County Council views the John McGahern Seminar as an important part of the county’s and indeed Ireland’s literary calendar which presents an excellent opportunity for both academic and general readers to engage richly with the work of John McGahern and we are delighted to continue to work in partnership with NUI Galway in organising this sixth International Seminar.” 

As well as appealing to all lovers of McGahern’s own work, the International Seminar will be of interest to literary researchers and to book clubs, to readers of contemporary fiction and modern writing, and to all national and international students of Irish literature, culture society and history. NUI Galway is providing five Scholarships to assist students to attend the Seminar and visit the McGahern Archive, which is held at the University in the James Hardiman Library. Scholarships are valued at €500 each and interested students should apply directly to the Academic Director, Dr John Kenny, at

For further details and to book for the 2012 International John McGahern Seminar contact Christine at 071 9621694, email or visit



Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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