For any folks in the Richmond area with an interest in Irish, after a long time of much discussion and not much action, I've finally managed to get a beginner's class up and going. We are meeting every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm from now until May 3rd down in the Fan district, and the class is open to anyone with any level of Irish from absolute beginner to part-time dabblers. All are welcome to join the class at any time, even if time commitments prevent attendance every Tuesday. For information, go to www.virginiagael.org
Few scholars could now claim, as the historian Donald Akenson once said nearly two decades ago, that there has been willful ignorance of the wider Irish world of North America outside of the cities of New York, Boston, and Chicago ("denial" is how he termed it). Essays, books, and conference papers on the history of the Irish experience in the rural U.S., in Canadian North America, in South America, and in the American South are increasingly visible.
I thought it would be worthwhile to give a little plug for the National Library of Ireland's new Sources Database. Historians like to grumble from time to time about catalogs and finding aids, but in this case the features and functionality are definitely deserving of high praise.
I was able to spend last Sunday with yet another cemetery organization that is putting together some great history-related programs, providing internship opportunities for preservationists and historians, and working to improve surrounding neighborhoods--all while maintaining the grounds of important historic sites.
I've managed to survive two weeks in what has been the coldest winter in Ireland since the early 1960s . . .
The publication of the 2009 inaugural lecture delivered by Cambridge Regius Professor of Modern History Richard J. Evans has sparked a brief firestorm of controversy regarding perceived slights against non-British academics, but such reactions have missed a more interesting question at the heart of Evans's lecture: is a historian's national identity relevant to his or her field of choice?
A few weeks back I had the good fortune to pitch in over at Congressional Cemetery here in southeast Washington, DC by helping with the latest burial vault restoration being undertaken at this historic site. Between this project and another volunteer opportunity I had with the cemetery earlier in September, I am beginning to appreciate just how much work goes into keeping these types of landmarks in top shape.