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Second Annual Irish Cultural Festival at Loyola Marymount University

by John Menaghan Friday, Feb. 17, 2006 at 2:27 PM 310-338-3051 (A.A.) Dept. of English, Loyola Marymount University, UH 3899, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045

An article on the upcoming (March 2006) "Second Annual Irish Cultural Festival at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

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Second Annual Irish Cultural Festival at Loyola Marymount University

For the second year in a row, the Irish Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is hosting an Irish Cultural Festival this spring, with additional support from the LMU Department of English and The Graduate Program in English as well as the Department of Theatre.

The Festival begins/began on March 1, 2006 with a performance of Nobel Prize-winning Irish playwright Samuel Beckett's single-character play Krapp's Last Tape, performed by Rick Cluchey, the co-founder of the San Quentin Drama Workshop and a close collaborator with Beckett himself. This mesmerizing play, set on what may be Krapp's last night on earth, dramatizes his aspirations and failures as both man and writer over the course of his long life.

The Festival continues with a night of Traditional Irish Music performed by noted Irish musician Frank Simpson and Friends and also features a performance by Irish dancer Máire Clerkin, who has choreographed and performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the Royal Opera House, and Royal Festival Hall in London and is currently teaching an Irish dance class at LMU. The performance, taking place in Murphy Recital Hall at 7 PM on Friday, March 24, is free and open to the public.

A reading by prize-winning Irish poet Eamonn Wall makes up the final event in this year's festival. Wall, born and raised in Co. Wexford, Ireland, has lived in the U.S. since 1982, and is currently Smurfit-Stone Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

His five published books include the poetry collections Refuge at DeSoto Bend (2004), The Crosses (2000), Iron Mountain Road (1997), and Dyckman-200th Street (1994), and a narrative on Irish American writing, From the Sin-e Café to the Black Hills: Notes on the New Irish (2000), winner of the Michael J. Durkan Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies for excellence in scholarship. The reading takes place on Thursday March 30 at 8 PM in the McIntosh Center, University Hall Room 3999 at 8 PM. Books will be available for purchase at the reading, which is free and open to the public.

LMU's Irish Studies Program was founded in 1998 by Professor John Menaghan. Menaghan, whose first book of poems, All the Money in the World, appeared from Salmon Publishing in Ireland in 1999 and whose second book, She Alone, will appear from Salmon in April 2006, has also published an article and given papers at Irish Studies conferences on Beckett, Joyce and the Literature of the Troubles. He is Director both of the Irish Studies program itself, allowing undergraduate students to combine a Minor in Irish Studies with literally any Major at LMU, and the Summer in Ireland program, held each summer at Trinity College Dublin, where 25 students take classes on Irish themes from two LMU professors and immerse themselves in Irish life and culture for 5 weeks.

The Irish Cultural Festival, also Menaghan's brainchild, is designed to create greater outreach to the Irish community and other off-campus groups in the Los Angeles area as well as to give students, staff, and faculty a way to celebrate Irish History Month and Irish culture in a way that goes beyond traditional St. Patrick's day celebrations. This year's festival and last year's were made possible in the first case by an increase in the Irish Studies budget by Michael Engh, S. J., Dean Of The Bellarmine College Of Liberal Arts, and by present and/or past support from LMU's Department Of English, The Graduate Program In English, The Department Of Theatre, Greg Sarris, The Marymount Institute, The Women’s Studies Program & The European Studies Program. Menaghan hopes to expand both the Festival and the Irish Studies Program in the coming years, and with that end in view he is seeking donations to the program both large and small and increased linkages with off-campus Irish organizations in the L.A. area and beyond.

Although Professor Menaghan himself is actually teaching in London this semester in LMU's new program there, he is putting on the Festival again this year with invaluable assistance from Debra Wong, the Irish Studies Administrative Assistant, work-study student Chelsea Windlinger, and three of his colleagues, Professors Barbara Rico, Aine O'Healy, and Amy Woodson-Boulton. For further information, contact Debra Wong at 310-338-3051 or try checking out the brand new Irish Studies website (, scheduled to appear at the beginning of March.

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