Professor Richard Kirkland joins in conversation with Roy Foster, the Society’s Vice President, on Kirkland’s new book Irish London: A Cultural History 1850–1916 (London: Bloomsbury, 2021). In the years following the Irish Famine (1845–52), London became one of the cities of Ireland. The number of Irish in London swelled to over 100,000 and from this mass migration emerged a distinctive and vibrant culture based on a shared sense of history, identity and experience. In this book, Richard Kirkland brings together elements in Irish London’s culture and history that had previously only been understood separately or indeed largely overlooked (as in the case of women’s’ contributions to London Irish politics and culture). In particular, Kirkland makes resonant cultural connections between Irish and cockney performers in the music halls, Irish trade fairs, temperance marches, the Fenian dynamite war of the 1880s, St Patrick’s Day events, and the later cultural agitation of revivalists such as W.B. Yeats and Katharine Tynan.
Speaker: Professor Richard Kirkland
Richard Kirkland is Professor of Irish Literature & Cultural Theory at King’s College London. Professor Kirkland’s research is focused on the literature, culture, and politics of Ireland in the modern period of contemporary Northern Ireland, during the Irish Literary Revival of the early twentieth century, and in the context of the Irish in London. He has written four monographs and co-edited two collections of essays grouped around these areas.
Speaker: Professor Roy Foster
Roy Foster recently retired as Carroll Professor of Irish history at Oxford, he is a fellow of Hertford College. He has written widely on Irish history, society and politics in the modern period, as well as on Victorian high politics and culture. Foster produced a widely acclaimed biography of William Butler Yeats which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In Words Alone: Yeats and his inheritances (2011), he presents a re-reading of Irish literary history throughout the nineteenth century and places Yeats and his inspirations in apposition to a much wider range of literary and political precursors than is usually the case. His Vivid Faces: the revolutionary generation in Ireland 1890-1914 came out in 2014 and his most recent work On Seamus Heaney (Princeton, 2020) came out last year and is the subject of an ILS film with Roy and Catherine Heaney.