Anglistik und Amerikanistik

Irish Studies Würzburg Kick-off Event – 16 April 2021


The Kick-off Event will feature readings by authors Colette Bryce and Jan Carson, greetings by Irish Ambassador Dr. Nicholas O’Brien, scholarly papers by Dr. Damian Bracken (UCC) and Prof. Dr. Jochen Achilles (JMU), traditional Irish music, and much more.

Part 1: 16.30-18.30 (CET)

  • Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann (Co-founder of Irish Studies Würzburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann (Co-founder of Irish Studies Würzburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Paul Pauli (President of JMU)
  • Prof. Dr. Roland Baumhauer (Dean of the Faculty of Arts)
  • Dr. Nicholas O’Brien (Irish Ambassador)
  • Christian Schuchardt (Lord Mayor of Würzburg)
  • Matthias Fleckenstein (Chairman of the German-Irish Association of Würzburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Katharina Rennhak (President of EFACIS)

Guest Lecture 1
Dr. Damian Bracken (UCC), “Light From the West: Early Irish Learning and the Southern Germanic Lands”

St Columbanus, Ireland’s first littérateur and the first Irish person to have an impact on European history, explored his identity in a broad, one could even say European, context. He wrote about a post-Roman, barbarian identity that transcends borders. His legacy, and the legacy of others who were inspired by his example, challenged established perceptions of the Irish and peoples who lived on the geographic periphery. This lecture explores aspects of medieval Irish contacts with the southern Germanic lands and their views of Ireland that were shaped by those contacts.

Damian Bracken examined Latin and Latin influenced elements of early Irish vernacular law in his PhD, completed in 1994, and his research has focused on Hiberno-Latin literature, especially on the works of St Columbanus, the earliest Irish writer to leave an identifiable corpus of writings, and the first to explore Irish identity. He is interested particularly in exploring Columbanus’s works in the context of late antique and early medieval ideals of authority and concepts of orthodoxy. He has taught in the School of History, UCC, and spent periods teaching in the Department of History, Boston University, and in the Department of History, Boston College, where he held the Brian P. Burns Chair in Irish Studies. He jointly edited Ireland and Europe in the Twelfth Century: Reform and Renewal (Dublin 2006) and the commentary volume that accompanies the facsimile of the Schaffhausen Adomnán, recently published as the first volume in the series Irish Manuscripts in Facsimile.

Guest Lecture 2
Prof. Dr. Jochen Achilles (JMU), “Transnationalism and Diversity: Transformations in Irish Culture and Irish Studies”

Both the economic transformation of a largely agrarian nation into the multiethnic and multicultural Celtic Tiger since the mid-nineties and the peace process in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 are widely understood as a watershed in the development of both Irish culture and Irish Studies. In The New Irish Studies (2020), a broad assessment of the significance of these changes for the cultural sphere, Paige Reynolds registers "the altered textures of life in twenty-first-century Ireland – the increased authority of formerly marginalized voices, the profound influence of digital technologies on everyday life, the international interest in Irish national concerns" (2).

The impact of globalization, which also spells digitalization and commodification, results in an intercultural blurring of the contours of what Irishness means and, at the same time, a greater interconnectedness of Ireland and the Irish with Europe and the globe. Both Irish literature and Irish Studies networks, such as EFACIS and its Associations and Centres, are deeply affected by these developments. This is also true of ISWÜ Würzburg to be officially launched on John Millington Synge's 150th birthday. Therefore my talk will, from a German angle, take a look at both developments in European Irish Studies and at the internationalization of Irish drama, expressing itself in many ways, not least in intercultural adaptations of The Playboy of the Western World (1907), John Millington Synge's most famous play.

Jochen Achilles is Emeritus Professor of American Studies at the University of Würzburg and Adjunct Professor at the University of Mainz. His authored book publications include studies on the development of Sean O'Casey's plays and on the interface between the gothic tradition and psychological fiction, focusing on Sheridan Le Fanu. He co-edited books on Irish drama, global challenges and regional responses in modern drama, representations of evil in fiction and film, and on liminality and the short story. His research interests and numerous articles focus on cultural identities, the American short story, African American and Irish drama.

Part 2: 18.30-19.00 (CET)

Traditional Irish Music by Ella Zlotos, Georg Zobel & Nik Jira

Ella Zlotos is a flutist, songwriter and teacher based in Würzburg. During her studies she spent some time in Ireland, where she learned to play tin and low whistle and became familiar with traditional repertoire and techniques. Since then she has been contributing to various folk and crossover projects and playing solo and guest performances throughout Germany (

Georg Zobel took up the fiddle in 2007 and has acquired a broad range of Irish and Scottish traditional tunes and techniques since. He has been playing lots of sessions and gigs in the local Irish trad scene around Würzburg.

Nik Jira is a freelance musician, composer and audio engineer based in Würzburg. He studied jazz piano at HfM Würzburg and has been playing the guitar for several years – but only recently discovered the beauty of traditional Irish folk tunings, which he also uses in his own compositions (

Part 3: 19.00-21.00 (CET)

Reading & Discussion with authors Colette Bryce & Jan Carson, moderated by Prof. Dr. Katharina Rennhak (President of EFACIS)

Colette Bryce is a poet from Derry, Northern Ireland. She has published five poetry collections including The Full Indian Rope Trick (Picador, 2004) and Self-Portrait in the Dark (2008). The Whole & Rain-domed Universe (2014), which draws on her experience of growing up in Derry during the Troubles, was shortlisted for the Costa and Forward prizes and received a Ewart-Biggs Award in memory of Seamus Heaney. Selected Poems (2017) was a PBS Special Commendation and winner of the Pigott Prize for Irish poetry. Colette is the current editor of Poetry Ireland Review. Her latest collection, The M Pages, was published by Picador in 2020.

Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her publications include a novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears, a short story collection, Children’s Children, (Liberties Press), two micro-fiction collections, Postcard Stories 1 and 2 (Emma Press) and a short story collection, The Last Resort (Doubleday). Her novel The Fire Starters (Doubleday) won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, the Kitschies Prize for Speculative Fiction 2020 and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize 2020. Jan won the Harper’s Bazaar short story competition in 2016 and has been shortlisted for the BBC National Story Prize and Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize. She was the inaugural Irish Writers Centre Roaming Writer in Residence on the trains of Ireland in 2019 and the Open Book Scotland Writer in Lockdown during 2020. She is currently writer in residence on an AHRC-funded research project at Queen’s University Belfast exploring the depiction of dementia in contemporary fiction. Jan’s third novel, The Raptures, is forthcoming from Doubleday in Spring 2022.

Katharina Rennhak is professor of English Literary Studies at the University of Wuppertal. She has published mainly on British and Irish Romanticism and contemporary fiction and is the author of two monographs, the more recent one dealing with the narrative construction of masculinities in British and Irish women writers' novels around 1800 (WVT, 2013). Among her edited collections are Women Constructing Men: Female Novelists and Their Male Characters, 1750–2000 (with S. Frantz; Lexington, 2010), Narrating Ireland in Different Genres and Media (WVT, 2016); Relevance and Narrative Research (with M. Chihaia; Lexington, 2019); and Postfaktisches Erzählen? Post-Truth, Fake News, Narration (with T. Weixler et al.; de Gruyter, 2021). Walter Macken: Critical Perspectives, co-edited with Sandra Heinen, has just been accepted for publication by Cork University Press. She is president of the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS), a member of the IASIL Executive (European Representative), and a board member of the Center for Narrative Research/Zentrum für Erzählforschung (CNR/ZEF) at the University of Wuppertal.

You can download the program flyer here.


This event is part of  “WueGlobal – Writing, Learning, Digital Connection” funded by the DAAD / IVAC International Virtual Academic Collaboration Program. Participation can be applied to the WueGlobal Certificate. Please visit the WueGlobal website for more information.


If you are interested in participating in this online event, please sign up by sending an email with the subject line “KICK-OFF” to by April 15, 2021. Please include your full name, address, and affiliation, if applicable.

Please note that the above given email address is used solely for registration purposes. If you want to contact ISWÜ, please use the contact information given below.


Irish Studies Würzburg (ISWÜ)

Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann & Prof. Dr. Maria Eisenmann &