Seamus Heaney Event

John McGahern Commemorative Evening 2024

On Thursday, April 4, the DCU School of English hosted an evening to celebrate the long associations between John McGahern and the St Patrick’s Campus of DCU in Drumcondra, where he was a student in the 1950s. The 2024 John McGahern Commemorative Evening took as its central theme McGahern’s connection to place and reflected on his continuing presence in the world of Irish letters. The evening was also a celebration of contemporary writers connected with DCU’s School of English, who were asked to reflect on the centrality of place in their own work, and the ways in which this imaginative grounding was central to engagement with the Irish experience in the twenty-first century. 

The evening began with a fascinating introductory talk by Professor Derek Hand on the subject of ‘John McGahern and place – the Drumcondra Connection’, which brilliantly traced McGahern’s rendering of many places and the imaginative tissue connecting them all. 

Thereafter the audience was treated to a series of readings and interlinked conversation by some of the writers connected with the School of English’s MA in Creative Writing. Aingeala Flannery (School of English Writer in residence, 2024) kicked things off in splendid style with a reading from her award-winning novel The Amusements; and this was followed by Darran McCann (Novelist and Chair of the MA Creative Writing) who treated those present to a sneak preview of a work in progress – a novel, it was clear, that will brilliantly invoke the spirit of Belfast in past times. In the interlinking moments, Darren Murphy (Playwright and member of the School of English) provided some wonderfully contemplative observations on the question of place and the power it holds. The evening was rounded off with another sneak preview of a soon to be published novel from Juliana Adelman, who combines her day-job as historian in DCU’s School of History and Geography with her other hat as the writer of historical crime novels.

After an absence of a little time, the 2024 iteration of the John McGahern Commemorative Evening marked the reemergence of this event as an important cultural event in the Drumcondra calendar.

The School of English sends its thanks and appreciation to all the writers who made the evening so special, to all those in the University who helped make it happen, and to everyone who came along on the evening.