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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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Tadhg, Let’s Change the Subject James P. Walsh 215

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Tadhg, Let’s Change the Subject James P. Walsh My Dear Cousin Tadhg, Let’s change the subject. Through five decades of correspondence I marvelled always at your multidisciplinary interests while you endured my single focus: the Irish experience in the West was different from elsewhere in America. Tadhg, it’s breakout time for me. Goodbye Irish Studies. Hello Women’s Studies! Yes, Women’s Studies. Here’s why. I expected my retrospective in Donald Jordan and Timothy J. O’Keefe’s Essays on Good Fortune to validate my life’s great work. The very wisdom of the Western Thesis would extinguish rival, heretical views on the mean- ing of life among the Irish out here in California. Not so. In his well-done review for the Irish Literary Supplement the arbiter of Irish American stud- ies, Lawrence J. McCaffrey, put the standard interpretation back on life support. The old history still rasps. Tadhg, remember that Studies article on Peter C. Yorke that you and I co-authored thirty-five years ago? Larry put spin on its meaning, thus questioning the Western Thesis. He also leaned on Janet Nolan’s Servants of the Poor for Irish women schoolteachers. By doing this Larry vouched for Nolan’s application of the standard Irish victimization theme to Cali- fornia. Now, at career’s twilight, I’m supposed to accept the San Francisco Irish as the Boston Irish, zinfandel and hot tubs aside. Fortunately, Tadhg, I’ve found a new life’s-great-work. Women’s Studies calls. It’s been dramatic. This conversion experience struck while researching my two-volume history of San Jose State University....

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