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Ireland, Wales, and the First World War:
History, Myth, and Cultural Memory

An Interdisciplinary Conference hosted by the Wales-Ireland Research Network

September 10-12, 2014
Cardiff University


2014 will see the beginning of numerous centenary events seeking to commemorate the United Kingdom’s experience of First World War (1914-1918). Yet such commemoration is never straightforward or uncontested. The cultural memory of the lives lost in the war has itself been a continuing source of conflict and debate. While many of the commemorative events of 2014 will focus on a centralised, British view of the war, this interdisciplinary conference will offer an opportunity to examine the war from distinctively Welsh and/or Irish perspectives, focusing attention on the ways in which cultural memories, memorials, and mythologies are constructed in contested national contexts.

The contrasts as well as the similarities between the experiences of the war in Wales and Ireland are revealing. We welcome papers examining, for example, the differing meanings and memories of the events of 1916 in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales; the literary and artistic responses to the war: for example, the poetry of Robert Graves, W. B. Yeats, Katharine Tynan, David Jones, Edward Thomas, Hedd Wyn, and Francis Ledwidge, the latter two, Welsh and Irish respectively, killed on the same day in the battle of Passchendaele; fiction, diaries, letters, and memoirs by figures as various as Joseph Keating, Gwen John, Stephen Gwynn, Kate Roberts, and Arthur Machen; the nature of the war memorials, ceremonies, and popular views of the war in the two nations and in Northern Ireland; gendered aspects of the discourse and imagery of war; the contentious role of Lloyd George in both nations; the influence of religion on attitudes towards the war in the two nations; contrasts and similarities in popular responses to the war in Irish and Welsh newspapers; creative uses of inherited memories, such as Michael Longley’s poems about his father’s war experiences or Siân James’s novel A Small Country, about the women left behind in rural Wales during the war.


Special Guest Speaker:

His Excellency Dr Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Sir Deian Hopkin

Dr Mary-Ann Constantine

Dr Paul O’Leary

The Wales-Ireland Research Network is run jointly by Prof. Claire Connolly (Cork), Dr Paul O’Leary (Aberystwyth), and Prof. Katie Gramich (Cardiff).



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