Of all the major wars of the modern era the war between Britain and the United States which began in 1812 and lasted almost three years must be one of the least talked about and most forgotten. For obvious reasons neither the US nor Britain were anxious to revive its memory, yet it constituted a major conflict between the two nations, was fought on land and sea, ranged from the shores of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and involved the destruction of Washington DC by British forces.
This talk will look at the background to and progress of this conflict, a war that played a huge part in forging Americans’ sense of their own identify, and gave them their naval tradition, their flag, and their National Anthem.
Thurs 23rd Jan 2014
Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore was raised and educated in Ballygar, before studying music in Athlone. He emigrated to America in 1849, and later joined the Union side in the US Civil War, serving as a musician and stretcher bearer. He went on to become one of the most famous band leaders in America. He was personally known to senior generals of both the Union and the Confederacy, performed at the inauguration ceremonies of no less than eight US presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, and penned what is perhaps the most famous marching song in the world; When Johnny Comes Marching Home. So famous was he in his day that he is often referred to as ‘America’s First Superstar’.
In this talk Jarlath McNamara, professional musician and avid Gilmore aficionado, will outline the story of this remarkable Irishman.
Thurs 06th March 2014
Tim Pat Coogan claims that shortly after Yassar Arafat signed the peace accord with Israel an aide handed him a copy of Michael Collins’ biography, with a warning that he not allow himself to suffer the same fate.
The story of Collins is one of tragedy, of a promising leadership cut short and a country plunged into fraternal war. But it is also a story of remarkable courage and daring, of at times ruthless struggle, and of a man who was prepared to pick up the gun, but knew when to set it aside again.
Collins’ story is the story of Ireland, of its emergence from foreign rule, its painful birth as an independent nation, and the sad memory of what might have been. It is an old and familiar story, but one which as Coogan’s anecdote illustrates, still contains lessons for us today.
Speaker: Brian MacGabhann
Thurs 24th April 2014
Recently the news was announced that the Voyager space probe has finally left the solar system and entered deep space, becoming the most distant manmade object ever. But barely 5,000 years ago our ancestors stared with fear and incomprehension at the bewildering display of lights that appeared nightly over their heads. Armed with nothing more than their wits our species has slowly and haltingly groped towards an understanding of the universe around us and our place in it, and it is amazing to think that by the time we finally did manage to leave this rock in 1961 we had already arrived at a broad understanding of how the universe operated.
This is the story of that quest, from the ancient Egyptians, who saw in the skies the workings of their gods, to the Greeks who sought for a naturalistic explanation of what was happening, through the middle ages when brilliant thinkers fought against the restrictions of their culture and of their own beliefs and assumptions to struggle towards and ever more accurate understanding. It is a story of heroes and cowards, humility and arrogance, imagination and tunnel vision. Along the way we will encounter a host of fascinating characters, some larger than life, some odd and reclusive, some downright potty, including such famous names as Copernicus, Newton, Galileo and Aristotle.
Thurs 10th Oct 2013