Mary C. Kelly

Picture of Mary Kelly

Mary C. Kelly, Ph.D., is Professor of History at Franklin Pierce University, where she has taught for twenty-five years. Her Masters in Modern Irish History is from University of Galway, in Ireland, and her Ph.D. in Modern American History is from Syracuse University. Her research explores Irish-American ethnic identity and the historical relationship with Ireland. She recently edited the book Navigating Historical Crosscurrents in the Irish Atlantic (Cork University Press, 2022), and also published Ireland's Great Famine in Irish American History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) and The Shamrock and the Lily (Peter Lang, 2005). Professor Kelly was honored with the 2016 Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Committee Ambassador Award and a 2014 Keene State College President's Outstanding Women in New Hampshire Award. She hails from Westport, in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland.

 
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Mary C. Kelly's Programs

Ireland's Great Famine in Irish-American History: Memory and Meaning

Ireland's Great Famine in Irish-American History: Memory and Meaning

Ireland’s Great Famine arguably represents the cornerstone event in Irish-American immigrant history. The episode that began with the failure of successive potato crops in the mid-19th century mobilized an epic transatlantic voyage undertaken by almost two million Irish. This Famine floodtide duly transformed Irish immigrant settlement and the ethnic identity in America over the next century and beyond. Combining contemporary accounts with compelling illustrations and images, this presentation tracks the enduring impact of the Great Hunger and its ongoing significance within America’s Irish community. The course of Famine memory is also explored, from the shadowy public silences over much of the 20th century to the vibrant wellsprings of remembrance and commemoration today. As the presentation reveals, the Famine’s emotional inheritance continues to shape the ethnic identity and what it means to be Irish-American today.  

Perspectives Book Group - Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

Perspectives Book Group - Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland," by Patrick Radden Keefe. A bestselling account of a murder in Northern Ireland, that serves as a lens to explore Northern Ireland's political culture and the legacy of The Troubles. 

Jean McConville’s abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders.

From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK PRIOR TO DISCUSSION.

Perspectives Book Group - Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow

As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Stony the Road," by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. A challenging and unsettling account of Reconstruction-era racial history, with much to inform us about today's cultural and political divides. 

 

Perspectives Book Group - The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea During the Great Irish Famine

As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea during the Great Irish Famine," by Cian T. McMahon.

The standard story of the exodus during Ireland’s Great Famine is one of tired clichés, half-truths, and dry statistics. In The Coffin Ship, a groundbreaking work of transnational history, Cian T. McMahon offers a vibrant, fresh perspective on an oft-ignored but vital component of the migration experience: the journey itself.

Between 1845 and 1855, over two million people fled Ireland to escape the Great Famine and begin new lives abroad. The so-called “coffin ships” they embarked on have since become infamous icons of nineteenth-century migration. The crews were brutal, the captains were heartless, and the weather was ferocious. Yet the personal experiences of the emigrants aboard these vessels offer us a much more complex understanding of this pivotal moment in modern history. Based on archival research on three continents and written in clear, crisp prose, The Coffin Ship analyzes the emigrants’ own letters and diaries to unpack the dynamic social networks that the Irish built while voyaging overseas. At every stage of the journey—including the treacherous weeks at sea—these migrants created new threads in the worldwide web of the Irish diaspora.

Colored by the long-lost voices of the emigrants themselves, this is an original portrait of a process that left a lasting mark on Irish life at home and abroad. An indispensable read, The Coffin Ship makes an ambitious argument for placing the sailing ship alongside the tenement and the factory floor as a central, dynamic element of migration history.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK PRIOR TO DISCUSSION.

Soldiers of Destiny: Ireland's Struggle for Independence, 1598-1998

Soldiers of Destiny: Ireland's Struggle for Independence, 1598-1998

Centuries of rebellion and political turmoil make up Ireland’s long campaign for nationhood. Against a backdrop of folk traditions and monastic settlements that preserved ancient patterns of Gaelic life, a succession of Viking, Norman and British settlements stamped enduring imprints on the Irish landscape. This presentation explores the history of an embattled people on the road to independence from the 1500s onward, with contemporary texts and colorful illustrations highlighting major leaders, important military episodes, and crucial political transitions over four centuries of struggle. From Hugh O’Neill to the IRA, and from Wolfe Tone’s United Irishmen to the tense drama of the 1916 Rising, we encounter the key players, contending traditions, and political forces that ultimately made Ireland “A nation once again.” This program is only available as an online presentation.