Byrne Perry Summer School





The Aims: of the Byrne/Perry Summer School

The Summer school aims to examine Irish history and literature from the eighteenth century onwards in an objective, professional and learned manner. The school has a broad appeal to those with an interest in how the last two centuries of Irish history, have shaped contemporary Ireland, north and south.

Sir Horace Plunkett once said 'Irish history is for Englishmen to remember and Irishmen to forget'. Clearly that is putting it much too starkly but but it does underscore two dangers; we cannot ignore history on the one hand, but neither can we allow ourselvees to become prisoners of it.

Founded in 1995, The Byrne Perry Summer School we were conscious like many other groups in County Wexford that the upcoming 1798 bicentenary could be positive and forward looking or negative and regressive; it could constructively move the search for peace and reconciliation forward looking or negative and regressive; it could constuctively move the search for peace and reconciliation forward or seriously set it back. We were also conscious that a complete, nuanced and calm knowledge of what has gone before could be used to free us from the shackles of the past. It is notoriously true of divided societies that they dont even agree on the history they share.

In the context of the 1798 Bicentenary the Byrne Perry Summer School can claim some credit for helping to prepare the intellectual environment and to highlight the complexity; sensitivity and significance of what that year commemorated. We felt that what was said and done during the year should not romanticise, politicise, trivialise or simplify the events and thinking of 100 years before. Above all we felt that it was important that sloganising which would inflame feelings or divide people should be strenuosly avoided.

That experience has lessons for our commemoration of 1916. We need a balanced, comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the personalities, events, thinking and context. The '05, '06 and '07 Summer Schools we hope, will advance that process of greater historical literacy.

I have greatly enjoyed chairing the Summer School committe for the past 12 years. It is now firmly established in the Annual Summer School calendar. I want to thank the members of the committe, out Directors, our sponsors, speakers and attendees for their support over those years. We look forward to welcoming you to Gorey for a great 12th Summer School.

The Experience:

The Byrne/Perry annually attracts participants from all over Ireland, Britain and the USA. They enjoy a convivial as well as an informative weekend. The warm, intimate atmosphere has marked itself out as a key attraction.

The Speakers:

The Byrne/Perry attracts lecturers, speakers and panellists of international repute. Speakers to date have included Tom Bartlett, Kevin Whelan, Ruan O'Donnell, and Terry Eagleton. political figures like An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, Albert Reynolds, John Bruton, Rurai Quinn, Dr. Martin Mansergh, Peter Temple-Morris MP, Seamus Brennan, Alban Magennis and Chris McGimpsey, authors such as Stella Tillyard, and media personalities like Mary Kenny, Mary Holland and Nuala O'Faoilain.

The Gordon Wilson Memorial Lecture:

IN 1996 the school instituted the Gordon Wilson Memorial Lecture to honour the peace efforts of Senator Gordon Wilson. The object of the lecture is to invite speakers who had a particular role in the Northern Ireland peace process to address the Summer School. The speakers to date have been Bertie Ahern, Albert Reynolds, Martin Mansergh, Peter Temple-Morris and Alban Magennis. The school has welcomed Dail Eireann, Northern Assembly, Unionist, Scottish Nationalist and Westminster representatives.

  • 1996: Albert Reynolds T.D.
  • 1997: Dr. Martin Mansergh
  • 1998: Peter Temple Morris M.P.
  • 1999: Alban Maginess M.L.A.
  • 2000: Bertie Ahern T.D.
  • 2001: Ruairi Quinn T.D.
  • 2002: The Hon Justice Susan Denham
  • 2003: Archbishop D.A. Caird.
  • 2004: Professor Joe Lee.
  • 2005: Professor Paul Bew
  • 2006: Dr. Garret Fitzgerald
  • 2007: Professor Bruce Nelson
  • 2008: Senator Joe O'Toole
  • 2009: Pierre Joannon
  • 2010: Kevin Whelan
  • 2011: Professor Vincent Comerford
  • 2012: Dr. Pauric Travers
  • 2013: Niamh Puirséil
  • 2014: Dermot Meleady
  • 2015: Dr. Martin Manseragh

The Cross-Border Links:

The school has tried from the outset to establish, develop and promote cross-border relations. And for the year 2000 we are establishing links with the northern-based United Irish Commemoration Society.

The Growing Status of the School:

In 1998 History Ireland became co-sponsors of the school. In 1999 the school forged an association with Keough-Notre Dame University that looks set to continue for a number of years. Since 2000, Wexford County Council has become a major sponsor.

Entertainment: at the Summer School

Entertainment over the weekend includes a dinner, cabaret and an Irish music session.

The Arts:

An Art Exhibition by local artists is an annual feature of the Summer School. This is organised by committee member Michael Warren, a local sculptor of international repute.

Bookings & Accommodation: Gorey Tourist Office. Tel: 053-9421248

Subscriptions: €130 includes all lectures, dinner, entertainment and field trip. Students and Seniors €80


Chief Sponsor: Wexford County Council

Other Sponsors:

Gorey Community Development Group
Gorey Community Social Services
Gorey Town Council
North Wexford Tourism
Funge's of Gorey
A.I.B. Gorey
Gorey Credit Union
The Arts Office, Wexford County Council

The T.D. Sinnott Scholarship: A number of scholarships are awarded to students in memory of the late T.D. Sinnott, Wexford's first County Manager.

Publications: The proceedings of previous Summer Schools have been published as "The Mighty Wave" (Dublin 1996), "The Women of '98" (Dublin 1998) edited by Daire Keogh and Nicholas Furlong and "Acts of Union" edited by Daire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (Dublin 2001). The School also published "From Heritage to Hope: Christian Perspectives on the 1798 Rebellion" (Wexford 1998) edited by Fr. Walter Forde.

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