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Festschrift for Tadhg Foley

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Maureen O'Connor

This Festschrift for Professor Tadhg Foley of the National University of Ireland, Galway, who retired in 2009, gathers together international contributors in the fields of poetry, politics and academia to honour this great man’s life and work. Professor Foley has not only been central in the development of Irish Studies and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies in Ireland and in the United States, but he has also enjoyed a long career as convivial host in his thatched cottage in Salthill, Galway. He remains one of the most popular and beloved figures in Irish academia. Among the eminent scholars included in the volume are Terry Eagleton, Robert Young, Penny Boumelha, David Lloyd, Luke Gibbons, Joep Leerssen and Maud Ellmann. The book is further enriched by poets Bernard O’Donoghue, Louis de Paor, Rita Ann Higgins, Michael D. Higgins and Tom Duddy. This collection is a rare and distinctive gathering of true and resonant voices, offering a unique portrait of late twentieth-century Irish literary and academic culture and its interplay with the United States.

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Introduction Maureen O’Connor 1

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Introduction Maureen O’Connor The first word that comes to mind to describe Tadhg Foley as a scholar (and, indeed, as a person) for all of his acuity, enthusiasm, creativity, and brilliance, is: generous. Tadhg speaks self-deprecatingly of his public house wisdom (the kind that gets quoted by people like Seamus Heaney, who in an interview credited Tadhg with the observation that we are all Irish in the eyes of God), but it is a measure of the lightness with which he wears his intellect and wit that Tadhg does not tidily discriminate between audiences and events. He is inspired and inspiring – and always amusing – whether in a lecture hall, hosting a dinner for twenty at his home, or meeting locals in the pub. In the years I have known Tadhg, I have yet to stop marvel- ling at the quantity and quality of research ideas – often accompanied by extensive bibliographies and photocopied archival material – that he readily and happily gives away to other scholars, especially young people at the beginning of their careers. He is not only a source of projects and materials, but is also generous with support, encouragement, and informa- tion regarding opportunities. Many contributors to this volume can attest to the truth of this. Tadhg’s innovations in the area of research may be his greatest legacy to Irish Studies, particularly his early dedication to and promotion of multidisciplinarity, long before it became fashionable. There are few schol- ars of note working in the area of Irish Studies...

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