October 26, 2022

Fund for Irish Studies at Princeton University presents “Listen to the Land Speak: Lost Wisdom of the Land and Language of Ireland”

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies concludes its fall 2022 lecture series with “Listen to the Land Speak: Lost Wisdom of the Land and Language of Ireland,” a lecture exploring the insight and hidden wisdom of native Irish culture by bestselling writer and documentary-maker Manchán Magan. The conversation will take place Friday, November 11 at 4:30 p.m. at the James Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau Street. Visiting Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Professor in Irish Letters and Chair of the Fund for Irish Studies Fintan O’Toole provides an introduction. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The theater is an accessible venue, and guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

manchan magan smiles at the camera. He has reddish brown short hair, glasses, and wears green blazer with red vest and striped shirt.

Manchán Magan. Photo courtesy Manchán Magan

Manchán Magan is a writer and documentary-maker. His books, Thirty-Two Words for Field (2020) and Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Words for Nature (2021) are acclaimed bestsellers. His latest book, Listen to the Land Speak: A Journey into the Wisdom of What Lies Beneath Us, was published in June. In addition, Magan has written two novels and books on his travels in Africa, India and South America. He writes occasionally for The Irish Times, reports on travel for various radio programs in Ireland, and has presented dozens of documentaries on issues of world culture for TG4, RTÉ and the Travel Channel.

cover of the book "Listen to the Land Speak" featuring black cover with white botanical line drawingsIn Listen to the Land Speak, Magan sets out on a journey through bogs, across rivers and over mountains, to trace the footsteps of ancestors who were deeply connected to the land. In so doing, he uncovers the ancient myths that shaped Irish national identity and became embedded in the lands that have endured through millennia — through ice ages, famines and floods. In a review of Listen to the Land Speak, The Irish Times notes that Magan “offers a fractal version of Ireland, where myth overlaps with history, the fantastical with the practical, the superstitious with the scientific” and suggests that “Magan has composed an antidote to the paralysing nihilism of the overwhelming climate crisis discourse.”

In his accompanying lecture, Magan shares inspiration from Irish language, landscape and mythology, exploring the insight and hidden wisdom native Irish culture offers to both the people of Ireland and to the world.

O’Toole’s books on politics include the recent best sellers We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland and Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain. His books on theater include works on William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Thomas Murphy. He regularly contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. In 2011, The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals.” He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, Journalist of the Year in 2010, the Orwell Prize, and the European Press Prize. O’Toole’s History of Ireland in 100 Objects, which covers 100 highly charged artifacts from the last 10,000 years, is currently the basis for Ireland’s postage stamps. He has recently been appointed official biographer of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.

The Fund for Irish Studies is chaired this year by O’Toole and affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” The lecture series is co-produced by the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Visit the Fund for Irish Studies website for more information about the lecture series events. Additional events for the spring semester are being planned.

The Fund for Irish Studies is generously sponsored by the Durkin Family Trust and the James J. Kerrigan Jr. ’45 and Margaret M. Kerrigan Fund for Irish Studies.

To learn more about the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures, and special events, most of them free, presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, visit the Lewis Center website.

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