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.
Mary C. Kellykellymc@franklinpierce.edu
Available Program Formats: Online presentations and in-person presentations within a 20-mile radius of Keene, NH.
Centuries of rebellion and political turmoil make up Ireland’s long campaign for nationhood. Since the 1100s, ancient Irish folk traditions and monastic settlements preserved Gaelic culture through a succession of Viking, Norman and British colonization waves. This presentation explores a storied history of struggle from the Gaelic chieftains to the Ireland of today, using contemporary texts and colorful illustrations depicting centuries of leadership, military confrontation, and political transition. From Strongbow 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 finally made Ireland “A Nation Once Again.”
Ireland’s Great Famine of 1845-1852 launched a powerful new chapter in the history of Irish America. This illustrated presentation centers on the human floodtides who escaped Ireland’s ravaged countryside on grim “coffin ships” to seek refuge in teeming American urban tenements. We begin with contemporary images of Ireland’s devastation and the large-scale, unanticipated, and unwelcome Catholic Irish presence in east coast harborsides, followed by reflection on the harsh reception that greeted the Famine exiles in America. From there, we encounter powerful sources of ethnic Irish political and cultural advancement over late 19th and early 20th century decades, from John L. Sullivan to the Kennedys and beyond. As we contemplate pillars of Irish-American achievement in spheres of politics, education, labor, faith, and sports, we navigate shadowy and contested pathways of Famine remembrance over the same years and decades. Enrich your understanding of the Famine as a crucial episode for the Irish in America, and reflect on how its memory and legacy continue to shape what it means to be Irish-American today.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading Crazy Horse: A Life by Larry McMurtry.
Legends cloud the life of Crazy Horse, a seminal figure in American history but an enigma even to his own people in his own day. This superb biography looks back across more than 120 years at the life and death of this great Sioux warrior who became a reluctant leader at the Battle of Little Bighorn. With his uncanny gift for understanding the human psyche, Larry McMurtry animates the character of this remarkable figure, whose betrayal by white representatives of the U.S. government was a tragic turning point in the history of the West. A mythic figure puzzled over by generations of historians, Crazy Horse emerges from McMurtry’s sensitive portrait as the poignant hero of a long-since-vanished epoch.
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK PRIOR TO DISCUSSION.
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.
The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked “a new birth of freedom” in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the “nadir” of the African American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance. An essential tour through one of America’s fundamental historical tragedies, Stony the Road is also a story of heroic resistance, as figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells fought to create a counter-narrative, and culture, inside the lion’s mouth. As sobering as this tale is, it also has within it the inspiration that comes with encountering the hopes our ancestors advanced against the longest odds.
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 oceangoing voyage endured by two million Irish escaping the country’s Great Famine of the mid-1800s endures as a cornerstone of the modern Irish and Irish American historical narrative. This book traces the epic journey undertaken by destitute Irish smallholders across the Atlantic to Boston and New York and other North American safe harbors. Famine emigrants fleeing Ireland strengthened their chances of survival aboard ship in proactive ways, but ongoing dangers persisted on the voyage and subsequently within the urban immigrant enclaves established by the survivors.
This stirring account transports the reader from destitute fields, ports of departure and seafaring rituals to eventual settlement in American cities for the fortunate survivors. The Atlantic crossing that represented a last hope for so many, and imprinted the Irish immigrant community in North America so powerfully, provides a compelling focus in this accessible historical narrative.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.