Erin Go Bragh (Ireland Forever)

Ireland has had a long and diverse history. It stretches from the early bronze and iron ages, the arrival of Christianity and the 'Golden Age' (500-800 AD) that produced the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, and the great Viking period, to the long and painful association with England, starting in 1171, the subsequent struggle between Protestant and Catholic, colonial settler and native Irishman, and the fight for independence. All this has produced in the Irish and Ireland an unparalleled richness of history, culture and custom.

The Irish bards, poets and writers - famed for their great wit, wry humour, and unique perspective - have added a strong dimension to that richness. Most of their works have been documented in printed books, some of which are on display in the exhibition.

Visitors to Ireland have also left their mark; documenting their impressions of the social, religious and political customs of people they encountered. Most have been seduced by the beauty of the countryside. Accounts of the people however have varied widely, fluctuating with the political fortunes of Ireland itself. Yet, whether it is a 16th century travel book or a poem from a modern anthology, what emerges is a great pride about being Irish and living in Ireland. This sentiment is distinctive, attractive, and refreshing.

The aim of Éire á Móradh: Singing the Praises of Ireland is to celebrate the Irish and Ireland. By utilizing books and manuscripts from Special Collections, and books from private collections, a broad overview is achieved. The range is enormous: from the Book of Kells and Book of Durrow to significant 'modern' Irish writers such as W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Seán O'Faoláin. This is an important first display; there will be more. The exhibition runs to the 31st July 2008.

Importantly, the exhibition also highlights the recently established Eamon Cleary Chair of Irish Studies at Otago University, held by Professor Peter Kuch. Thanks go to him and his colleague, Dr Rory Sweetman.


Selective Chronology

University of Otago Eire a Moradh - Singing the Praises of Ireland, Special Collections Exhibition from the University of Otago Library <