TIARA Meeting – Feb 2020
February 14 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
A short business meeting at 7:30 p.m., followed by our speaker, Professor Thomas O’Grady (doors open at 7 p.m.)
“To ask for a map is to say, ‘Tell me a story.’” So writes Peter Turchi on the opening page of his marvelous book Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer. An occasional genealogist over more than forty years, Thomas O’Grady, Director of Irish Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston from 1984 to 2019, has always been inclined to look for “the story” in the branches of a family tree. For his talk on February 14th, Professor O’Grady will focus on the Irish enclave of Avondale on his native Prince Edward Island, unfolding and telling the story of that small rural community and its mostly first-generation Irish-Canadian population—prominent surnames in the community include Hughes, Larkin, Delaney, Keoughan, Keefe, Mahar, and O’Donnell. Meacham’s Atlas from 1880 is an essential source for anyone researching PEI history and genealogy; but Professor O’Grady will take us back as far as the so-named “Lake Map” of 1865 and forward to the Cummins Atlas of 1928. He will also draw on archival newspaper references to Avondale dating from the 1890s through the early 1920s. The materials—the evidence—he will use for reconstructing the “Irish” texture of Avondale’s community and culture thus ultimately speak directly to Irish geographer William J. Smyth’s recognition of the complexity of engaging with “place”: “Geography is a naïve kind of discipline, even a foolish one, since it tries to marry these two perspectives: the outsider-perspective of the map, and the subjective, felt world of place. There is therefore always a tension in the discipline, and particularly in cultural geography, between knowing the world and experiencing it, between scholarly distancing and caring, between truth and love.”
Thomas O’Grady was born and grew up on Prince Edward Island. He is a Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he has been Director of Irish Studies since 1984. His writing on Irish literary and historical matters has been published widely in scholarly journals and in popular media on both sides of the Atlantic and on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. He is also the author of two volumes of poetry, most recently Delivering the News (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019). He divides his time between and among PEI, Milton, MA, and Adamsville, RI, sharing domestic life with his wife, three daughters who come and go, and two young cats.
This meeting is free and open to the public.