Comment on Conference, Madrid, abril 2013, by Prof. Michael White, Eminent Europeans: A very significant representation of researchers connected with the ‘IrishinSpain’ group partook in the recent international Conference, Eminent Europeans of Irish Origin. The Impact of Ireland in Europe: An Historical Perspective, organised by Dr. Declan Downey.
A very significant representation of researchers connected with the ‘IrishinSpain’ group partook in the recent international Conference, Eminent Europeans of Irish Origin. The Impact of Ireland in Europe: An Historical Perspective. ( See programme)
The conference was held in the magnificent historical settings of the Royal Irish Academy and Kildare Street & University Club and was convened, as the Conference Programme pointed out, “to mark the inauguration of Ireland’s EU Presidency and the fortieth anniversary of Ireland’s entry into the EEC-EU” and “to explore, emphasise and celebrate Ireland’s historical and positive contribution at the centre of Europe’s political, cultural, intellectual and economic life and development”.
Organised by Dr. Declan Downey from the School of History and Archives of University College Dublin and inaugurated by the Minister for Arts and Culture of Ireland, Mr. Jimmy Deenihan, who gave a comprehensive overview of Irish participation in Europe, the conference also counted on the presence and participation of the Irish Ambassador in Spain, Mr. Justin Harmon and the Spanish Ambassador in Ireland, Sr. Don Javier Garrigues and the Duke of Tetuán, Dr. Don Hugo O’Donnell. The conference brought together personages from institutional bodies with current European responsibilities and researchers from Irish and other European universities, colleges and centres of research who gathered to share their work in the field of Ireland’s role all over Europe over several centuries. They were facing the formidable task of showing that the biblical verse – ‘In omnem terram exivit sonus eorum’: ‘Their sound went forth into all the Earth’ – granted as motto by a Spanish King to the regiment of Hibernia was indeed justified on the grounds of the centuries old, indeed millennia old impact of Ireland in European History and beyond.
The conference managed to wed spread and depth. In so far as the former, it took on board the Irish presence both in such widely different European countries – Ireland, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italia, Poland, Sweden, England, Scotland, Portugal, Denmark, ‘the wider world’ – and many different thematic areas, ranging from science, diplomacy, religion, statesmanship, politics, thought, literature, culture, medicine, trade, to the varied military field and the rich heritage left by the Irish manuscript tradition. In so far as depth, just a glance through the titles gives ample testimony of the degree of specialisation and the range of primary sources mastered by the speakers. Both this breadth and depth is surely an object lesson in underscoring the magnitude of the repercussions of Ireland throughout Europe down through history and also of the return of influence that fed back to Ireland itself from that scenario.
A further major advantage of the conference venue was that, as well as the aesthetically charming surroundings, having all sessions under the one roof with the conference rooms in close proximity allowed for fluid movement between parallel sessions and especially facilitated meeting between speakers and the fruitful exchange of scholarly discussion and information that is sure to bear fruit and no doubt the forthcoming publication of the proceedings will produce volumes of great scholarly interest and impact.
I am confident that I am voicing the unanimous sentiments of all those connected with the Irishinspain group in extending the congratulations of the whole group to Dr. Declan Downey for masterminding such a fitting tribute to celebrate Ireland’s EU Presidency and its fortieth year of membership and, furthermore, to convey to him the appreciation and gratitude of all who attended for the immense work he put into the event and the exquisite attention and hospitality shown to us all in Dublin.
Michael White, Universidad Complutense, Madrid.