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Naming the Traces: (Re)Constructing an Irish-Canadian Family Narrative of Emigration, Place-Making, and Return

May 26 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


May 26
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm




Dr Nessa Cronin

Irish Studies’ Seminar Series-Spring 2021 – School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, in association with the Moore Institute, NUI Galway.

On what narrative, mnemonic, and spatial scaffolding is an intergenerational family story built? How, as writers and historians, can we access the family memories that inform these stories, and reconstruct the past, despite the gaps and silences that are present in the narrative? This research-creation dissertation project addresses these questions through the medium of an intergenerational family memoir. The narrative reconstructs my great-grandmother Norah Davin’s journey in 1928 from her home in the village of Shrule, County Mayo, Ireland to Montreal, where she gave birth to my grandmother Rose in a home for unmarried mothers. It then follows several generational strands of my family’s “emplaced” memories in Montreal, focusing—in the tradition of memoirs of working-class family life by Annette Kuhn, Christine Walley, Carolyn Steedman, and Sharon O’Brien—primarily, though not exclusively, on the stories of the women in my family. Here, I reflect upon how, as an adult, I have forged my own relationship with specific regions in the west of Ireland, illustrating that despite the “estranging power of displacement” that many families experience after emigration, connections can be re-configured, and established anew.


Ms Kelly Norah Drukker (Michael Smith Foreign Study Scholar, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway 2021-22 and Humanities Doctoral Candidate, School of Irish Studies, University of Concordia, Montreal).

Guest Respondent: Dr Barbara Lorenzkowski (Department of History, University of Concordia, Montreal).

Chair: Dr Nessa Cronin, Centre for Irish Studies, School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, NUI Galway.


Please register for this Zoom webinar at: https://nuigalway-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EOwbgP9iTVemSng6oNT-gQ. The session will also be streamed live on the Moore Institute’s Facebook page.