As you near the Washington Square Arch at the end of a walk or a ride down Fifth Avenue you will see a classic red brick Mews House (actually two adjoining landmark houses) evoking what in times past might have served as carriage houses/stables for the one of the great houses that border the park. You might conjure up an image of Henry James’s Heiress waiting in vain for her suitor to appear.
In reality, One Washington Mews is a sort of Irish American Taj Mahal, a 1991 gift to New York University bearing the name of the late Lewis L. Glucksman and testifying to his beloved Loretta Brennan Glucksman’s love for Ireland. Glucksman Ireland House at New York University was dedicated in 1993.
What better context for an evening of love songs by emigrants from Ireland whose voices provide a narrative of 1916 nationalism as spoken in the accents of America?
This week on February 4, Ireland House will present “Her Exiled Children” as one of the signature events of its year- long celebration of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. Borrowing its title from the text of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic the event acknowledges the intimate involvement of Ireland’s newly minted Americans in the birth of the Republic.
National Book Award author Colum McCann will host a night of poems read by a galaxy of prestigious writers and performers to voice powerful reflections on Irish nationalism in America at the time of the 1916 Rising. A climax of the celebration of poetry as a powerful engine of freedom will be Pulitzer Prize winning Poet Paul Muldoon ((and Poetry Editor of The New Yorker) debuting a new work commissioned by Glucksman Ireland House NYU for the centennial celebration.
A limited number of tickets to the February 4 event may still be available through OvationTix.com or at 866-811-4111. The venue for the 7PM evening is the Sheen Center for Culture and Thought, 18 Bleecker Street.
Recognized as a living, constantly evolving initiative, Glucksman Ireland House at NYU is now ranked as one of the country’s premier programs of academic Irish Studies. On most Thursday’s of the academic year, it offers a rich and varied menu of academic and cultural events. It is where I have listened to the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney; learned the background of Colum McCann’s insights into his book Transatlantic and later heard his stirring homage to one the book’s heroes (and his own) as George Mitchell spoke to an overflow audience about The Negotiator the statesman’s memoir that proves the American Dream is still achievable. In the 20th anniversary year Glucksman Ireland House offered a weekend embodying the historic, dramatic and contemporary legal and religious insights on a question that established legal precedent that has stood since 1813. I learned that that happened because William Sampson, an exile from Ireland acting as a friend of the court, invented a form of shorthand that allowed him to document the proceedings in an era before today’s system of court reporting existed. And because Ireland House’s dedicated archivist worked to honor that tradition.
Information on many of the Glucksman Ireland House events throughout the year can be found here.
Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney cut straight to the heart of it when he spoke at the 20th Anniversary celebration. He chose to ”set a Crown upon the labours of Loretta” by invoking the spirit of the namesake and honoring the combination of “Indomitable Irishry of mind /With the Big Apple of Knowledge” that she and the House embody. That’s a love story with a happy ending. Or perhaps more accurately a perennial beginning.