The Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas will present a program on “The Irish Way of Death” Saturday, Nov. 12, from 1-5:30 p.m in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall South in Anderson Student Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.

The program, free and open to the public, features:

  • Folklorist Ray Cashman speaking on contemporary Irish funeral customs in rural Ireland;
  • Performances of “The Music of Mourning” by traditional singer Erin Hart and accordionist Paddy O’Brien;
  • A session on death and dying in Irish literature, presented by student researchers from St. Thomas;
  • And a documentary film about Ireland’s Glasnevin Cemetery.
Ray Cashman

Ray Cashman

Cashman, the keynote speaker, is an associate professor of folklore and ethnography, with a specialty in Irish folklore, at Indiana University. His most recent book is Packy Jim: Folklore and Worldview on the Irish Border, published this year by the University of Wisconsin Press. His many articles include “Dying the Good Death: Wake and Funeral Customs in County Tyrone” in New Hibernia Review in 2016.

Hart and O’Brien are mainstays of the traditional Irish music scene in the Twin Cities.

Hart is an accomplished unaccompanied singer, as well as the author of a series of novels set in Ireland and featuring pathologist Nora Gavin and archaeologist Cormac Maguire, who are engaged in the recovery of artifacts and human remains from Irish boglands. The first novel, Haunted Ground (2003), won numerous awards, including the Friends of American Writers award and Romantic Times’ Best First Mystery.

O’Brien is a native of County Offaly in Ireland. He is the creator of the Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection: A Personal Treasury of Irish Traditional Music, and author of a 2012 memoir, The Road From Castlebarnagh: Growing Up in Irish Music.

The St. Thomas upper-division student presenters are enrolled in the theology class Death and the Afterlife taught by Dr. Anne King.

nronemilliondubThe program will conclude with a 4 p.m. showing of the 2014 documentary “One Million Dubliners.” The 75-minute documentary features Glasnevin Cemetery, the largest multidenominational graveyard in Ireland. Glasnevin protects the remains of some 1.5 million persons.

For more information, please contact Jim Rogers, director of the Center for Irish Studies, (651) 962-5662, or jrogers@stthomas.edu.

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