Lecture series February 2017

Catherine Wilsdon's lecture entitled "Daring to be European: Synge & Parisian Ireland" was delivered in the Irish College in Paris on 21 November 2016. We had a very interesting and stimulating evening in the Centre Culturel Irlandais (CCI) in Paris.

This same lecture was delivered in the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) in Dublin on 2 February 2017.



Presentation details


Daring to be European: Synge & Parisian Ireland

In 1893 controversial playwright and Abbey Theatre director John Millington Synge travelled to Germany in hopes of becoming a professional musician. Diverging from this path, he moved to Paris in 1895 where he took classes in a range of subjects including comparative phonetics, French literature, and Celtic civilisation. Synge spent several winters in the French capital before returning to Ireland to focus his energies on the Abbey Theatre. This lecture traces the young Irishman's movements in Paris shedding light on the various people he encountered, the networks he was part of, and the ideas to which he was exposed. Paying particular attention to his engagement with fellow Irish men and women during this time, it advances that Synge's engagement in the current of European thought at the fin-de-siecle had a determinative effect on the nature of his return to Ireland in the early years of the twentieth-century and thus contributed to his counter-conventional aesthetic.

In the words of the Rev. Liam Swords

'the aim is to establish a grant for a student of talent from the Irish Higher education sector to pursue his/her studies/research/training for an academic year in Paris and to immerse themselves in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Candidates will be chosen from the widest possible groups, e.g., musicians, artists, sculptors, writers, scientists, engineers, scholars, craft-workers, theologians, architects, students of haute cuisine or haute couture, cinematographers etc.'
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