Professor Kevin Whelan of the University of Notre Dame has been announced as Keynote Speaker for the global gathering of Lighthouse Keepers at the world’s oldest operational lighthouse at Hook Head. The gathering will take place from 13 -15 September 2013.
Professor Whelan is a native of the County Wexford part of Clonegal parish. He attended secondary school at the Faithful Companions of Jesus Convent in Bunclody, received his doctorate from University College Dublin in 1981, and was a post-doctoral Fellow at Memorial University in Newfoundland 1981-82.
Between 1995 and 1998, he was historical advisor to the Irish government on the Famine and the 1798 Rebellion. Whelan was named the inaugural Director of the Notre Dame Centre in Dublin in 1998. He has been a visiting professor at New York University, Boston College and Concordia University (Montreal).
He has lectured in over a dozen countries, and at the Sorbonne, Cambridge, Oxford, Torino, Berkeley, Yale, Dartmouth and Louvain. He has written or edited twenty books and over one hundred articles on Ireland’s history, geography, literature and culture. These include The Tree of Liberty. (1996), Fellowship of Freedom: (1998), and the best selling Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (second edition 2011).
The global gathering of lighthouse keeper is being hosted in cooperation with the commissioners of Irish Lights and on behalf of past lighthouse keepers of Hook Lighthouse
Kevin Whelan has a close affiliation with the Hook peninsula and spends each summer in Templetown. Commenting on the event, he said: ‘The Hook is magical place, the Lighthouse is one of Ireland’s greatest treasures and as a Wexford man it is an honour for me to address this special conference in the year of the Gathering’.
Ann Waters, Manager at Hook Lighthouse, commented: ‘This is going to be a wonderful weekend celebrating the history, heritage and folklore of Hook Lighthouse and we are delighted to have Professor Whelan on board. The ticketed events over the weekend are proving very popular and we are fully open during the weekend so we welcome one and all. We love to see faces old and new come along and enjoy our free family fun day, including the fireworks.”
The Hook gathering weekend commences on Friday 13 September with a free open evening. Among the attendance will be The Honourable Loyola Hearn (Canadian Ambassador to Ireland), Yvonne Shields (CEO of the Commissioners of Irish Lights) and Larry O’Brien (Chair of Hook Heritage). Entertainment will be provided by the Wexford Male Voice Choir and soprano Emma Rochford.
The Lighthouse Symposium ‘If Lighthouses Could talk!’ on Saturday will be hosted by Wexford woman Anne Doyle(ex-RTE). Professor Whelan will offer an illustrated talk on Ireland in the Atlantic world focusing on mariners, merchants, migrants and lightkeepers. Other speakers include guests from the Northern Lighthouse Board of Scotland and representatives from the Commissioners of Irish Lights and Newfoundland. The last principal lighthouse keeper and current attendant at Hook Head, Tux Tweedy will attend, as well as several other former lighthouse keepers.
The weekend’s highlight takes place on Saturday evening. A drinks reception will be hosted in the historic cobbled yard at Hook Lighthouse with entertainment by Danescastle Traditional Irish Music Group and the Doyle Academy of Irish Dance. This will followed by a Seafood Buffet and after-dinner entertainment provided by the Kennedy Sisters and traditional Irish music from Saolta. A fireworks display over the ancient landmark will bring this memorable evening to a spectacular close.
Sunday, September 16 is free family fun day. The will be plenty to enjoy for all the family a showcase of coastal crafts and food producers, sea shanties from the Hooks and Crooks, entertainment from Buí Bolg stilt walkers, Claoimh medieval knights, water zorbing, rope course, games, music and face painting. On Sunday morning Professor Kevin Whelan and archaeologist Niall Colfer will conduct a historical guided bus tour of the Hook Peninsula.
For further details and to Book for events the Gathering of Lighthouse Keepers see hookheritage.ie