- 04 Dec 20
The first of three seminars will be broadcast at 2pm tonight (December 4), and will be centred around the theme of commemoration itself and the contexts of national and global events 100 years ago.
President Michael D. Higgins has announced the collection of speakers who will join him for the first seminar in a series of President of Ireland Centenary Reflections events, taking place this week. There are two more seminars in the first series scheduled for February and May, 2021.
Chaired by broadcaster, author and historian John Bowman, the proceedings on December 4 will begin with an address by President Higgins, called 'Of Centenaries and the Hospitality Necessary in Reflecting on Memory, History and Forgiveness'.
Speaking about the streamed Machnamh 100 event, President Higgins said:
"In this decade of significant centenaries, we are challenged to engage with our shared past in a manner that is honest, authentic and inclusive, and as might assist a healing of conflicts that cannot be forgotten. The complex events we recall during this decade are integral to the story that has shaped our nation in all its diversity. Issues of the fullness of context, in terms of what has been or is being taken into account or being excluded, cannot morally be avoided.
"Ethical remembering requires us, in particular, to shine a light on overlooked figures and events in an attempt to have a more comprehensive, balanced and inclusive perspective on, for example, the independence struggle and the response to it.
"A central dimension of ethical remembering is a refusal of conscious or unconscious amnesia, not only of persons but events. It requires the inclusion of marginalised voices, the disenfranchised, voices from below in our recollections of the past. It must include the essential part played by women in the period that we commemorate, the role of class, and an openness to stories of 'the Other', the stranger, the enemy of yesterday.
"For the sake of the future we will share, we must be unshackled from the snares of the past. Creating a space for forgiveness is essential.
"The time has come for an ethics of narrative hospitality with its capacity to replace our past entrenchments, offering an openness to others. In doing so, we may nurture memory and remembrance as a strong foundation of a shared, agreed future."
Also speaking at the inaugural seminar will be: Professor Ciáran Benson, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at UCD; Professor Anne Dolan, Associate Professor in Modern Irish History in the Department of History, and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin; Professor Michael Laffan, former lecturer in the University of East Anglia in Norwich and, for over three decades, in UCD (chiefly on Modern Irish History); and Professor Joep Leerssen, Professor of Modern European Literature at the University of Amsterdam, honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy, and honorary fellow of Trinity College Dublin.