Kerry Civil War Conference
Quest and Thrive founder co-organises the hugely successful Kerry Civil War Conference
The Kerry Civil War conference, which took place in Tralee, Co Kerry from 23-25 February 2023, was organised by Quest and Thrive’s Bridget McAuliffe, along with co-organisers Owen O’Shea and Dr Mary McAuliffe.
The conference, which was held at Siamsa Tíre Theatre, Tralee, was supported by Kerry County Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media through the Decade of Centenaries Programme, in association with Kerry Library, UCD Gender Studies, and the Department of Computing, Creative Media and Information Technology at MTU Kerry Campus.
Over twenty local, national and international academics, historians and experts gathered in Tralee to discuss and debate the Civil War in Kerry and beyond as part of the three-day event which marked the centenary of the conflict.
Speaking ahead of the Kerry Civil War Conference, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, said:
Opening on Thursday evening with a keynote address from Professor Diarmaid Ferriter of UCD, the conference heard from a wide array of experts on how and why Kerry came to be synonymous with the worst brutality and bitternesses of the Civil War a century ago.
The conference programme included a centenary concert featuring songs, music, poetry and drama from the Civil War period, as well as a visual media exhibition drawing on first-hand accounts from the period. The exhibition was presented by students at MTU Kerry and Kerry College and ran to great acclaim at Siamsa Tíre.
The organisers secured permission from RTE to screen the famed Ballyseedy docu-drama, presented by broadcaster Pat Butler, which played to a packed auditorium on the Friday night of the conference.
Conference co-organiser, Bridget McAuliffe, said: “The objective of the conference was to set what occurred in Kerry in wider national and international contexts through the presentation of new research, archival testimonies and the accounts of combatants, as well as civilians, so that, a century later, the Irish Civil War can be considered and understood
“The level of interest in all of the events was very high and was indicative of a strong desire to engage with and discuss this traumatic period in our collective history,” she added.
The official opening was addressed by Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr John Francis Flynn, Chief Executive of Kerry Council Council, Moira Murrell, and Vice-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group, Decade of Centenaries, Dr Martin Mansergh.
List of Conference Speakers and Chairs
The conference proved to be a tremendous success, offering a wide range of expertise, events and opportunities to discuss and debate the Civil War in Kerry.
As organisers, Bridget said that she, Owen and Mary were very pleased to report that the event exceeded their expectations, and achieved their key ambition of presenting and discussing the Civil War in Kerry in an accessible and inclusive way to a wide audience in this centenary year.
“Over 300 people attended each of the three days of the conference and 350 people attended the screening of Ballyseedy on Friday evening. Over 200 were in attendance for the centenary concert, Their Memory Will Endure, on Saturday night,” she said.
“During the course of the presentations from our guest speakers, significant new research was presented covering multiple aspects of the period and there was very positive and constructive engagement from our audiences at all times.
“The lectures and keynote addresses were greatly complemented by the exhibition, Mise, le Meas, in the foyer of the host venue, and by the centenary concert, Their Memory Will Endure, on Saturday night, as well as the screening of Ballyseedy which was preceded by an interview with broadcaster, Pat Butler,” she added.
“As organisers, we are thrilled to have brought an event of this high calibre to regional Ireland, especially Kerry in this instance, which was such an important Civil War location,”
Bridget explained. “There was a widespread appreciation that a commemorative occasion like this was held in Kerry and that it managed to attract a huge array of academics and experts from across the country and from overseas.”
The conference proceedings – excluding the screening of Ballyseedy and the concert, were live-streamed on the conference website. The live-stream reached 1,500 viewers at its peak.
All of the talks, panel discussions and keynote discussions were recorded and can be watched on the conference YouTube channel.
The conference achieved significant coverage in local and national media. Details of media coverage and links to articles and broadcast can be found at www.kerrycivilwarconference.ie/media
RTÉ’s Morning Ireland broadcast live from the conference on Friday 24 February and a panel discussion, chaired by Shane McElhatton of RTÉ, included Dr Mary McAuliffe, Dr Richard McElligott and Owen O’Shea. This discussion was also broadcast simultaneously on the RTÉ News Now channel on television. The conference exhibition, Mise, le Meas, featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide programme.
Visit the conference website at www.kerrycivilwarconference.ie
The Kerry Civil War conference was a huge success and was positively reviewed by many who participated and attended.
I'm really so grateful to have had such a brilliant platform to talk about the impact and legacy the Civil War had on my home of #kilflynn Amazing to see the public response to the conference and the massive engagement 💚💛— Richard McElligott (@RichardMcELL) February 26, 2023
It was an honour to participate to #KerryCivilWarConference. It was an ambitious and courageous project and @OwenOShea@MaryMcAuliffe4 @Bridgetmacca made it a wonderful success. Thank you for having me. Lovely to catch up with everyone and @lizgillis191623 ...thank you again x— Cécile Chemin (@MuayCe) March 5, 2023
A huge thanks to the organisers of #kerrycivilwarconference, just a fantastic few days of panels, talks, and memorable screening of the legendary 'Ballyseedy' docu drama and a commemorative concert to cap it off. Congrats to @OwenOShea, @Bridgetmacca and @MaryMcAuliffe4. pic.twitter.com/Lg6twHNPzV— Gerard Shannon (@gerry_shannon) February 26, 2023
Privileged to attend, with my son, the first screening in nearly 25 years of Pat Butler’s incredibly powerful and moving Ballyseedy documentary at Siamsa Tíre in Tralee last night. His call for an official recognition of what happened was very welcome #kerrycivilwarconference pic.twitter.com/mBiyyS1l53— Cllr Deirdre Ferris (@CllrDFerris) February 25, 2023
Great few days popping in and out of the #KerryCivilWarConference and art exhibition in Tralee, particularly the focused inclusion of women's experiences and the impact of events both in and on the six counties. A lot learned, and plenty more to think about for a very long time. pic.twitter.com/iwSJTQEK1h— Ciara | Ciaraíoch 🎨 (@Ciaraioch) February 25, 2023