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Peadar O’Donnell Weekend 2007 October 14, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Republicanism, Uncategorized.


Just a quick note to say that this years Peadar O’Donnell Weekend is taking place this coming weekend in Dungloe, Co. Donegal. I can’t be there this year, but I wish I was. Unfortunately the Peadar O’Donnell website is offline, but indymedia has the following details of the weekend…

Friday 19th
7.30pm Opening by Frank Sweeney – All Welcome

8.30pm Da Capo Alba – 20 piece Scottish Mandolin Orchestra (€10)

10.00pm Trad Music – Midway Bar

Saturday 20th
11.00am Trip and tour of Arranmore Island – including a film and talk by Danny Donnelly on Peadar. (€15)

3.00pm ‘Plants, People & Folklore – A Donegal Perspective’ : Talk by Una Sweeney.

6.30pm ‘The O Donnells and the Franciscans’ : Talk by An tOllamh Micheál Mac Craith

8.00pm ‘O Donnells Rabble and Disappointed Hopes – A Perspective of Independent Ireland’ : Talk by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh

10.00pm International Night in Beedys Bar – Celebration of the different nationalities living in our area. Ethnic cuisine (including Irish!) will be available.

Sunday 21st

12.30 ‘The Corporate Takeover of Ireland’ : Talk by Dr Kieran Allen

This will be follow by a presentation by MAOR (the Donegal pressure group against the give-away of Irelands natural resources)

3.00pm ‘Scotland and Ireland – Joint Possibilties’ – Talk by former MP and MSP Dennis Canavan

8.00pm Play – By Little John Nee – ‘Star of Stage, Screen, and Street Corners’

I was there myself two years ago and found it an educational and entertaining weekend, and one which smoothly bridged the divide between culture and politics. It’s also pretty exhaustive so for anyone thinking of going be prepared to do a lot. The boat trip to Arranmore is worth the journey alone (assuming one has a fairly strong stomach after a session the night before, particularly if the water is anything close to choppy), but perhaps as interesting is the mix of politics and activism. In 2005 there was a small but useful antiquarian book sale.

I also found it heartening to meet people of like mine from a variety of left political backgrounds and find something we could largely agree on. In that way perhaps it had a certain influence on the CLR.

It is interesting to think of O’Donnell in the same week as franklittle has discussed Garage and depictions of the rural working class, and indeed as Making Sense was put up in the Left Archive. O’Donnell very consciously moved towards the cultural field as time progressed, and perhaps for similar reasons as others on the left have done so, primarily perhaps a sense that the political struggle was impossible to resolve at a certain point in time and therefore it made sense to try to shape the cultural discourse. The Bell provided him (and Sean Ó Faoláin) with a vehicle, as I’ve argued here, that would attempt some limited expansion of the cultural and socio-political area in a progressive direction. It is tempting to ‘read’ this in retrospect as becoming bogged down in conflict with a hegemonic societal culture that was socially and politically conservative. That social conservatism can be seen as expending to a significant degree the energy of progressives during the 1950s to as recently as the mid-1990s. I don’t believe it was a diversion. Progress had to be made on that front as well, but I suspect it weakened the ‘economic’ left progressive argument, and that already was very weak in the context of a polity where ‘national’ issues reigned supreme on a rhetorical level.

In any event, I would highly recommend the Weekend. It is one of the best kept secrets of the left Irish cultural and political arena, run by a dedicated group of people every year and worth the time and effort to get there.


1. Mick Hall - October 14, 2007


You mention Peadar’s move onto cultural ground, in some ways todays left have been slow here, we ignore at our peril the fact that the Neo-conservatives/right are extremely active in this area. One cannot help noticing the re-writing of history that is taking place of late.

The right is taking our [the left] history and taking it out of its historical context and portraying it through todays eyes, so to speak. The anniversary of the death of Che was a good example of this, as to are the events in the north circa 1922-69-97. The Provos have become a particular target here.


2. WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2007

I’d completely agree Mick. In a way what you’re saying is that there are conscious efforts to localise and reposition all events/conflict within the context of our own society, so therefore all sociopolitical situations are mapped onto the very specific context of representative liberal democracies, the goal being to delegitimise responses. Che (and as you’ll notice I think there is a valid critique of the man from a left perspective) is impossible to understand in that dynamic other than as saint/sociopath which does him and his activities no justice whatsoever. How does one then explain his internationalism, his ground forging work as regards Africa? [have to say, I think the left has done similar stuff, but since it has largely successfully avoided the blandishments of state power for most of the last century it is to a much lesser degree]


3. Garibaldy - October 15, 2007

The cultural sphere is definitely one where the left has been slow to (re?)involve itself. For example, is there an equivalent of Workers’ Life or Making Sense, that deals with such issues, and reaches a broadish audience outside the hard left even? I don;’t think the SP or SWP magazines have succeeded in doing that, though I may be wrong. It seems to me blogs are a key part of the struggle here. Part of the problem here is the collapse of the social democratic left. Without a Labour left, what links exist between the politics of the main left party and the harder fringe? Apart maybe from Iraq, and perhaps neutrality, none. The cooperation that was possible in the past is now impossible. I think this has been an even bigger problems for the British Left.

On Mick’s historical point, I couldn’t agree more. The attempt to have communism made the equivalent of Nazism within the EU was a particularly disgusting case in point. The history of NI is in the process of being rewritten at an astounding pace. I might perhaps disagree with Mick as to who are the perpetrators to some extent, but it is definitely a major problem. I wonder if by some sort of bizarre process a form of Postmodernism has hit our politics, where all sides have equal validity, and/or all are equally victims. As though by the idea all have suffered will solve the problem. This is also the case with a hobby horse of mine, namely WWI and the rewriting of Irish involvment in a shameful imperialist bloodbath as a positive thing. It makes me sick.

The superstructural struggle, if you like, must be strengthened and deepened.


4. soubresauts - October 15, 2007

I’m reminded of a book entitled “Mind you, I’ve said nothing” by Honor Tracy — wise and wry observations on Irish life in the early 1950s by an English writer who was working on The Bell with Peadar O’Donnell for several years. It’s a delightful and enlightening read.

Tracy had much to say about O’Donnell, whom she obviously worshipped. Apparently she was also a friend of Seán Ó Faoláin, and I note a reference to a Sunday Independent article alleging a sexual relationship between Tracy and Ó Faoláin.

I haven’t read anything else by Tracy, though she enjoyed considerable success as a novelist and travel writer.


5. WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2007

I think I read that soubresauts, many years ago. Have to try to dig it out.

I’d broadly agree Garibaldy, although I suspect we’d have slightly different conclusions! That’s a very important point that the retreat of a strongly articulated left social democratic viewpoint in Labour has led to a disconnect. I guess its arguable that it never really was that strong to begin with, but the lack of a nexus between the different areas of the left is very apparent. And the arrival of DL in Labour, far from halting that dynamic actually exacerbated it as they moved smartly towards the center ground…


6. Garibaldy - October 15, 2007

Agree totally that it is the DL people moving Labour to the right. Which is why any talk of a takeover seems to me to be silly. New leaders, same policies. The Labour ‘brand’ is what it has always been.

On whether Labour ever had a strong left, you’re in a better position to judge than me, but I can’t see a nickname like Ho Chi Quinn attaching itself to anybody currently involved in Labour, at any level really, whatever about the odd leftish TD and councillor. Labour Youth is as careerist as any other student organisation.


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