Conference – online 2021

We are pleased to announce the Society for Folklife Studies Conference for 2021.

The draft programme and booking form can be found on this page.

The Society for Folk Life Studies

ONLINE 

ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Galway, Republic of Ireland

10-12 September 2021

**Music, dance, song, story and related artefacts**

**Vernacular buildings and interiors**

The conference will be accessed by Zoom and hosted by 

The Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway

PROGRAMME

[Draft at 17-07-2021]

[with Zoom codes annotations]

FRIDAY, 10 September

09.30                           Assemble online and technical briefing

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

09.45-09.50                 Dr Dafydd Roberts (President, Society for Folk Life Studies)

Welcome to the 2021 annual conference 

09.50-10.00                 Lillis Ó Laoire: 

                                    Welcome to The Moore Institute and NUI, Galway

10.00-10.45                 Lecture 1.

John Cunningham

Preserving livestock from “hogs, dogs, bogs and thieves”: The traditions and tribulations of herdsmen in nineteenth-century Connacht 

According to one agriculturalist in the 1890s, herdsmen in counties Galway and Roscommon were ‘distinct from any employed in any of the English districts, being neither shepherds nor bailiffs and yet a compound of both’. Working for landlords and large graziers, they were responsible workers, liable for damage to their employers’ stock, whether caused by ‘hogs, dogs, bogs, or thieves’, in their own phrase. The lecture will discuss the herdsmen’s attachment to their archaic working conditions, their craft identity, and the efforts of their herds’ associations through which they defended their position against both employers and tenants’ movements during the land war. 

10.45-11.15                 Offline coffee break

11.15-12.00                 Lecture 2

                                    Niall Ó Ciosáin

Book subscribers and readers in the Celtic languages in the 18th and 19th centuries

In the second half of the 18th century, there was an expansion in the reading public of most European languages. The Celtic languages were no exception to this trend, and there was a significant increase in the production of printed texts in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Breton. While the production end of these texts has been explored to an extent, very little is known about their readers. Who bought and read books and pamphlets in the Celtic languages? This paper begins to explore this question by way of the lists of subscribers that were occasionally appended to song books and poetic miscellanies, particularly in Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. The lists contain anything between a few dozen and many hundreds of names, often with addresses and occupations included (more so than subscription lists in English). These are analysed in terms of geography and social status to give a picture of the different reading communities in the various languages. 

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

12.00-14.00                 Offline lunch break

14.00-14.45                 Lecture 3

Ailbhe Nic Giolla Chomhaill 

“Sin an áit a raibh an lúcháir/ That was the place of joy:” Craft, creativity and context in the tales of a Co. Donegal female storyteller.

Ireland’s National Folklore Collection (NFC) is home to a large collection of folktales and traditional oral material narrated by Sorcha Chonaill Mhic Grianna (1875-1964), a storyteller from the Gaeltacht townland of Ranafast, Co. Donegal, in the 1930s. The large quantity of folktales in this collection is representative of the richness of  women’s oral narrative tradition in Co. Donegal in the first half of the 20th century; it also reflects the remarkable skill of this storyteller, whose vast folklore repertoire also included songs, prayers, Fenian lays, and detailed accounts of historic events and local customs. This paper seeks to bridge the doorway between the archival folktale and the social meanings and understandings held within by analysing Sorcha Chonaill’s telling of international wonder tale ATU 707 The Three Golden Children. Before turning my attention to the folktale itself, I will contextualise the storyteller’s repertoire within the broader context of women’s traditional storytelling in Ireland, followed by the micro-level context of the storyteller’s socialisation in the rural Irish community of Ranafast in the latter half of the 19th century. 

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

14.45-15.15                 Offline tea break

15.15-16.00                 Lecture 4

Róisín Nic Dhonnchadha

Conamara Man: An English Language Gaeltacht Autobiography

How can a self-authored personal narrative help to delineate the factors through which folk identities are formed? In this paper, I discuss the curious instance of an English language Gaeltacht autobiography, namely, Conamara Man(1969) by Séamus Mac an Iomaire [Séamus Ridge]. An islander and a fisherman from the Carna area of County Galway, Mac an Iomaire (1891-1967) gained renown for his classic publication, Cladaigh Chonamara [The Shores of Connemara], an encyclopaedic account of shore life and the maritime traditions of south Connemara. Reminiscent of autoethnography, Conamara Man reflects an innate affiliation of person with place and invites us to examine how aspects of folk identity are cultivated by the idea of topophilia. Recognising Mac an Iomaire’s intimate involvement with the sea, I also address in this presentation the relationship between vocation and identity in the context of folk narratives. 

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

16.00                           Offline tea break 

18.00-19.00                 Online pre-prandial drinks (an informal gathering via Zoom)

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

19.00                           Offline supper

SATURDAY, 11 September

09.45                           Assemble online and technical briefing

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

10..00-10.45                Lecture 5

                                    Claudia Kinmonth

Post publication discoveries; readers’ responses to Irish country furniture and furnishings 1700-2000

Often after publishing a book, new, associated material comes out of the woodwork. Completing a book during the 2020 pandemic, and then publishing it and receiving responses from readers, during lockdown in Ireland, revealed a mass of objects that I was unable to go and scrutinise first-hand. Normally I cannot to give opinions on art or furniture without checking it first-hand, to ensure everything is genuine. Some professionally faked Irish furniture cannot necessarily be recognised from photographs. But lockdown forced me into a situation where I had no choice, I couldn’t enter peoples’ houses, or examine the subtleties of the undersides of chairs, or the backs and surface details of paintings in the normal way.

Taking to Twitter and Instagram to augment publicity in the absence of a launch, produced a mass of poorly photographed images, sometimes of fascinating objects. Correspondence with strangers about how best to photograph a chair produced some amusing results. The range of items that emerged was exciting, especially of rare things which previously had only emerged from museum collections, such as the slightly magical ‘God in a bottle’, the first of which was produced by our local grocer, who had one belonging to her grandmother. Slightly better known were ‘falling tables’, but fresh examples with good stories about their makers arose from Counties Fermanagh, and Wicklow. Súgán chairs were a familiar design, but the first fork-legged one appeared one day on my screen via Instagram. Publishing a 1940s photograph of celebrated author Peig Sayers in her kitchen, gave rise to ceramics identifiable from her dresser, and other surviving items of her furniture, being discovered. Likewise, glass fishing floats arranged as dresser decoration turned out to be recycled to augment gateposts, and intriguing in their own right. Broken glass and pottery were part of external cottage decoration, so photography was easier. This paper takes the opportunity to showcase a scattered range of such ‘new’ historic material, and some new avenues of research, for the first time. 

                                    [Zoom codes: -As above-]

10.45-11.30                 Offline coffee break

11.30-12.15                 Lecture 6

                                    Verena Commins

Monuments and commemoration: Realising an Irish traditional music heritage through visual culture 

As public symbols, monuments are part of a wider cultural landscape that reflect both perspectives on the past and their contemporary interpretation. This paper tracks the relatively recent (post-1974) monumentalisation of the oral tradition of Irish traditional music practice through the prism of commemoration: the raising of public monuments and statues to Irish traditional artists in civic spaces throughout Ireland. The materiality and physical presence of monuments in public squares and crossroads represents the tradition as visual culture in environments far distant from the intimate context of fireside or public house. In doing so, it extends their associated meanings beyond a listening and performing community of practice of Irish traditional music, providing new access routes to what is a predominately sound and sounded culture. Furthermore, it locates this development in local, national and global contexts, using specific examples to highlight the commemoration and iconisation of selected musicians and places, as well as examining the broader aspects and implications of monument emplacement as both built objects and works of art in their own right. 

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

12.30-14.00                 Offline lunch break 

14.00-14.45                 Lecture 7 

Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire

References to food and drink in Traditional Gaelic Song

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

14.45-15.15                 Offline tea break

15.15-16.30                 Online excursion

Virtual tour of Galway City Museum, followed by a live Q & A

                                    Led by Damien Donnellan (Galway City Museum)

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

16.30-19.30                 Offline supper break 

19.30                           Informal, post-prandial ‘show & tell’, or ‘sing & tell’

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

SUNDAY, 12 September

09.45                           Assemble online and technical briefing

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

10.00-10.45                 Presidential Address

Dr Dafydd Roberts:

Power to the People

                                    [Zoom codes: -As above-]

10.45-11.15                 Offline coffee break 

11.15-12.15                 Annual General Meeting of the Society for Folk Life Studies 

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

12.15-13.45                 Offline lunch break 

13.45-15.05                 Short Papers:

                                    [Zoom codes: ……………….]

13.45-14.05                 Nikita Koptev

Self-collection of folklore by Irish schoolchildren: strategies and outcomes

                                                [Zoom codes: -As above-]

14.05-14.25                 Eugene Costello

Upland pastoralism as social practice: commons, gendered labour and landscape

                                                [Zoom codes: -As above-]

14.25-14.45                 Muireann Ní Cheannabháin

Go n-éirí do chodladh leat/May your sleep be restful: Revealing secrets and repelling threats in Gaelic lullabies. 

A clear aim of the lullaby is to put a child to sleep. Less overtly, however, lullabies convey a wide range of themes and emotions that contrast sharply with their soothing melodies. Lullabies belong to genres of song associated with women and family life, -a domestic sphere that gives us clues as to why so few of them are found in Irish folklore collections. This paper will discuss the opportunities that lullabies gave women to express themselves, as well as fulfilling their duty to protect the infant and repel threats, especially the threat of fairy interference. Examining the songs sung by women gives a distinctive insight into the position of women in society, showing, as well, their participation in life’s rituals; from birth to death, and all that lay between them. 

                                                [Zoom codes: -As above-]

14.45-15.05                 Ciaran McDonough

“I have lately been annoyed by so many blockheads, I do not know whom to treat civilly”: The Ordnance Survey of Ireland’s folklore informants

As well as collecting information pertaining to Ireland’s toponomy during the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, the Topographical Department, consisting of some of the finest Irish scholars of the day, were also instructed to make the most of such a large endeavour and to collect folkloric material in addition to names for and remains on the physical landscape. In addition to the official name books and Memoirs, collected by the surveyors (who often were unable to speak Irish fluently, if at all), the Ordnance Survey Letters were written by members of the Topographical Department as they filled in the gaps left by the surveyors. This paper looks at the informants for this folkloric material as it is presented in the Ordnance Survey Letters. Focusing largely on the province of Connacht, I will examine who the informants were and present their contributions, investigating how the situation of Irish in their townlands may have influenced the type of material presented

                                                [Zoom codes: -As above-]

15.10-15.15                 Concluding remarks and thanks

                                    [Zoom codes: -As above-]

15.15                           Online tea, cakes (bring your own!) and farewells 

                                    [Zoom codes: -As above-}

End of conference

The Society for Folk Life Studies

ONLINE

ANNUAL CONFERENCE, 2021

Hosted by the Moore Institute,

National University of Galway, 

Republic of Ireland

10th to 12th September 2021

**Music, dance, song, story and related artefacts**

**Vernacular buildings and interiors**

Due to the continued uncertainties caused by the Covid19 pandemic, the Society’s annual conference for 2021 will be held online, but organised by staff of the Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway. In addition to papers spread over three days, there will be a virtual tour of Galway City Museum with live Q&As with a member of staff.

If you wish to attend this year’s conference, please complete the application form below and send it by 20 August 2021, with full payment, to the Conference Secretary (Steph Mastoris) at: 

National Waterfront Museum, Maritime Quarter, Oystermouth Road, Swansea, SA1 3RD, Wales, UK. 

The cost of attending the whole conference will be:

  • SFLS member:              £25
  • Non-member:               £45
  • Full time student:          £12

On receipt of your conference fee you will be sent the codes for joining each part of the conference online.

I/We wish to attend the 2021 annual conference:

Name/s: …………………………………………………………………………………………

Address: …………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ……………………….. E-mail: ……………………………………….

I/We enclose a cheque / make a bank-transfer for £ ………………………………………..:

Please return this form with payment or notification of BACS transfer to:

Steph Mastoris

National Waterfront Museum,

Oystermouth Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3RD

(steph.mastoris@museumwales.ac.uk)

Please pay either 

by cheque payable to The Society for Folk Life Studies or

by BACS transfer to the Society’s bank account:

Sort code:  40-35-18                  Account number:11226363

(Please identify the transfer as ‘Conference 2021 + [your surname]’)