‘Love and Marriage’ are themes that are deeply embedded in Irish culture and in ‘personal life’ and represent an arena frequently characterized by controversy. 2015, in particular, marks the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Divorce Referendum, which passed by a narrow majority and led to the introduction of divorce for the first time in Irish law; the passing of the Children and Family Relationships Act (2015); and a referendum on same sex marriage (May 22nd 2015). The Children and Family Relationships Act (2015), running to over 100 pages with over 170 sections, deals with topics as diverse as guardianship, donor-assisted reproduction and custody and it amends existing legislation relating to civil partnership, adoption, passports, and succession.
When situated in the wider European context, intimate relationships in Ireland have experience profound transformation and rapid social change in recent decades. Recent data cites a significant increase in one-parent households and a high non-marital birth rate, for instance, alongside the emergence of cohabitation, divorce, same-sex families and ‘reconstituted’ families. At the same time, the majority of children in Ireland still live in a two-parent family based on marriage, and the divorce rate in Ireland is in reality much lower than several other European countries. Love and marriage in the 21st century are therefore characterized both by a strong degree of continuity and change in the Irish context –a complex relationship exists between tradition and modernity.
This year’s Merriman Summer School will explore critical aspects of ‘love and marriage’ as a prevailing theme in Irish Culture, Politics and Society over time through the lens of literature, social research, music, performance, history, poetry, politics and the law. Talks, readings, performances and debates by leading scholars, writers and artists will deal with topics as diverse as ‘twenty years of divorce in Ireland,’ love and marriage in the 1916 Rising, sexual citizenship, same sex marriage, women’s lives, marriage traditions and Irish writing. Speakers include Roy Foster, Lucy McDiarmid, the author Donal Ryan, Tom Inglis and esteemed poets Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, Rita Ann Higgins and Doireann Ní Ghríofa.
A musical gala evening exploring love and marriage in the musical landscape of Co. Clare is a highlight of this years programme and the Summer School will close with a History Ireland ‘Hedge School’ on ‘Love and Marriage since the Famine.’
Click here for the full programme and further information.