BC to host conference, concert to mark the Rising

Boston College will host two major events this month to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising: an international conference, “Easter 1916: A Terrible Beauty Is Born,” during March 18-20; and an Easter Rising Commemorative Concert on March 28.

The events, both free and open to the public, are part of BC’s yearlong observance of the centenary of the Rising, widely regarded as a turning point in Ireland’s struggle to gain independence from the British.

“To understand modern Ireland, it’s important to appreciate the impact of the Easter Rising,” said Oliver Rafferty, SJ, director of the University’s Center for Irish Programs, which is playing a key role in organizing the BC commemorations.

“The Rising was a seminal event in Irish history not because it was a victory, but because of how the British mishandled the aftermath: executing the rebel leaders, and imposing martial law and internment. This swung Irish public opinion in favor of what the rebels were trying to accomplish, and touched off nearly seven years of struggle that brought about Ireland’s independence.”

The novelist Colm Tóibín, author of “Brooklyn” (now a critically acclaimed film), will be among the speakers at the “Easter 1916” conference. Also on hand will be the historians Alvin Jackson of Edinburgh University and Diarmaid Ferriter of University College Dublin, who are both former Burns Visiting Scholars of Irish Studies at BC; Emily Bloom of Georgia State University; Roisín Higgins of Teeside University; and Fearghal McGarry of Queen’s University Belfast.

The conference opens at 6 p.m. on March 18 in Devlin 101, and includes daytime presentations on Saturday and Sunday and evening receptions Friday and Saturday. While “Easter 1916” is free and open to the public, registration is requested at http://bit.ly/1WnfzNs.

On March 28, Easter Monday, the commemorative concert will take place in Gasson 100 at 6:30 p.m., offering a program of Irish music, song and dance with BC performers like former Sullivan Artist-in-Residence Seamus Connolly (who retired in December as director of Irish music programs at BC), Jimmy Noonan, Sheila Falls, Kieran Jordan, and the BC Irish Dance student club, as well as the University Chorale and the BC Chamber Music Society.

Joining the BC contingent will be a bevy of special guests, including Charlie Lennon, a traditional musician who also is a prolific composer; New England Irish harpist Regina Delaney; and The Murphy Beds, a New York City-based duo of Irish native Eamon O’Leary and American Jefferson Hamer, noted for intricate instrumental arrangements and vocal harmonies.

While the concert, too, is free and open to the public, registration is requested at http://bit.ly/1PMKjnc.

“Boston College has had a longstanding commitment to teaching and propagating Irish history and culture – in fact, some of our most popular history classes here are about Irish history,” said Fr. Rafferty. “BC also has strong ties to Boston, the most Irish city in the US. As part of our service to Boston, we stage events and offer resources on Irish history and culture.

“These two events, and others being held at BC, uphold that tradition by offering different perspectives on the Easter Rising. The conference will provide an intellectual engagement through the exploration of various issues in regard to the Rising: What was it? What was its impact? How did different communities and observers see it?