"Eugene O’Neill: Ireland, the Constant Presence" - The Tenth International Conference on Eugene O’Neill National University of Ireland, Galway 19-22 July 2017
While never setting foot on Irish soil, Ireland’s presence was an integral force in Eugene Gladstone O’Neill’s life and dramatic canon. The conference will explore this presence through O’Neill’s work, family, and his temperament—as well as other aspects of O’Neill’s life. O’Neill himself remarked: "The one thing that explains more than anything about me is the fact that I’m Irish. And, strangely enough, it is something that all the writers who have attempted to explain me and my work have overlooked.”
The son of Famine immigrant James O’Neill from County Kilkenny and second-generation American Mary Ella Quinlan, daughter of Famine immigrants from County Tipperary, O’Neill embodied the American journey for many of the nineteenth-century-born Irish—and like many, that past was never far from the present. Shaped by his father’s lifelong fear of returning to abject poverty while conscious of Ireland’s 1880s quest for Home Rule, and jolted by his mother’s suffering despite her Catholicism, O’Neill began finding his dramatic voice after witnessing the Abbey Theatre’s 1911 tour of the eastern United States. Embracing the Abbey’s Dublin theatre traditions, O’Neill set forth on a career that followed realism and experimentation. Following W. B. Yeats and G. Bernard Shaw’s 1932 inclusion of O’Neill in the Irish Academy of Letters, O’Neill set forth on a cycle that led to that most Irish of plays, A Touch of a Poet. In addition, Long Day’s Journey into Night rings with Ireland’s presence, which for James Tyrone was still a source of pride despite everything: “And keep your dirty tongue off Ireland, with your sneers about peasants and bogs and hovels!” On receiving his Nobel Prize, O’Neill was congratulated by the Irish government—joining Irish Nobel laureate authors Yeats, Shaw, and later Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Furthermore, Ireland’s interest in O’Neill has existed steadily since the Dublin Drama League’s 1922 staging of Diff’rent, and has included more recent productions by Galway’s acclaimed Druid Theatre.
Here is the current draft (as of March 15, 2017) for the schedule of the conference: Conference Schedule