Museum hosts tribute to Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney

Heaney reading
Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University

Nov. 8, 2013 - Four members of the Quinnipiac faculty paid tribute to the late Seamus Heaney, the 1995 Nobel Prize winner in literature, by reading excerpts from his work Nov. 7 at Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University.

Ken Cormier, assistant professor of English and coordinator of the Creative Writing Program; Christine Kinealy, director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac and professor of history; Jason Koo, assistant professor of English; and Robert Smart, professor and chair of English, read the works of Heaney, who was known as "The People's Poet."

Heaney, who died in August, published numerous collections of poetry, as well as essays and works for the stage over his illustrious career. Much of Heaney's work was related to "The Troubles in Ireland," a topic which was incredibly personal to him, having been born in Northern Ireland. He is known for putting "The Troubles" in wider historical context.

The event was co-sponsored by Ireland's Great Hunger Institute.

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum is home to the world's largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Irish Famine. The museum preserves, builds and presents its art collection in order to stimulate reflection, inspire imagination and advance awareness of Ireland's Great Hunger and its long aftermath on both sides of the Atlantic.  

The collection focuses on the famine years from 1845-52, when blight destroyed virtually all of Ireland's potato crops for consecutive years. The crop destruction, coupled with British governmental indifference to the plight of the Irish, who at the time were part of the United Kingdom, resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million Irish men, women and children and the emigration of more than 2 million to nations around the world. This tragedy occurred even though there was more than adequate food in the country to feed its starving populace. Exports of food and livestock from Ireland actually increased during the years of the Great Hunger.

Works by noted contemporary Irish artists are featured at the museum including internationally known sculptors John Behan, Rowan Gillespie and Eamonn O'Doherty; as well as contemporary visual artists, Robert Ballagh, Alanna O'Kelly Brian Maguire and Hughie O'Donoghue. Featured paintings include several important 19th and 20th‐century works by artists such as James Brenan, Daniel MacDonald, James Arthur O'Connor and Jack B. Yeats.

The museum is open Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays 1-5 p.m. Ireland's Great Hunger Institute is a scholarly resource for the study of the Great Hunger, which is also known as An Gorta Mór. Through a strategic program of lectures, conferences, course offerings and publications, the institute fosters a deeper understanding of this tragedy and its causes and consequences.

To encourage original scholarship and meaningful engagement, the institute develops and makes available the Great Hunger Collection, a unique array of primary, secondary and cultural sources, to students and scholars. In educating people of all ages and backgrounds about the Great Hunger, the institute also supports the museum's mission.