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ST. PAUL, Minn. – A symposium on “The Irish Family at Home and Abroad” will be held at the University of St Thomas on Saturday, March 9 from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The program features presentations and panel discussions by scholars, helping professionals, creative writers and graduate and undergraduate student researchers. All sessions will be held in the auditorium of the John Roach Center auditorium on the St Paul campus (JRC 126).


The program is sponsored by the university’s Center for Irish Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology Department, and the Family Studies Program. The Irish Genealogical Society International is also a sponsoring organization. The program can be viewed here:


Dr. Brigittine French of Grinnell College will open the symposium with a keynote address titled “Anthropologists Look at the Irish Family: Solidarity and Strife, Conflict and Cooperation.” French, who has just returned from a Fulbright Fellowship at Dublin City University, is the social science representative of the American Conference for Irish Studies. She has presented numerous lectures and conference papers on Irish identity formation and on conflict resolution in the early Irish Free State.


Later panels will include sessions on “Therapists’ Perspectives on the Irish Family,” “Literary Images of Vocation in Irish Life”  and “Mothers and Fathers in Irish Life Writing.” There will also be two sessions involving creative writers. In one, memoirists Nick Hayes, Brian Nerney, Marge Barrett and Fred Nairn will discuss “Shame and Respectability in the Irish Family.” The program will conclude with a session called “The Last Word Belongs to Poets,” in which local writers (including Pat Barone, William Cavanaugh, Ethna McKiernan and Mike Finley) will read original poems about their families.   The luncheon speaker is Dr. Patrick O’Donnell of Normandale Community College, who will speak on “Tyrone Guthrie’s Remarkable Family.”


Registration is $12 for the general public, or free with a St Thomas ID. (A buffet lunch is available for an additional $12, and must be ordered at the time of registration.) Registrations are handled through the TommieCentral site at


   For more information, please contact Jim Rogers, managing director of the Center for Irish Studies, (612) 962-5662, or send electronic mail to