Maynooth, still the premier Irish seminary, if now largely a campus of its national university, hosts an "Alternative Spiritualities, the New Age, and New Religious Movements in Ireland" conference Oct. 30-31. I will be there, deo volente, giving a paper on the invention of "Celtic Buddhism." An Irish News feature on the NUIM conference, by Bimpe Archer in the 24 Oct. 2009 issue, A-16, cannot be obtained without a log-in. A journalist from this Belfast paper kindly sent me a pdf.file.
I'm therefore indirectly alluded to therein as a speaker on "Celtic Buddhism in America," although I will be spending 99% of the talk on its Irish manifestations in fancy and fact. However, I am one of the "more than 50 presenters from three continents and 15 academic specialties." All the same, I think that makes me the only American along with one Australian, to be fair. Still, it's a global conference in reach and substance.
The setting of Maynooth, founded as the outpost of papal orthodoxy that often allied itself against the native cries for emancipation and rallied against liberation early in its two centuries of being established back then in tumultuous times as a bulwark against dangerous French ideas of liberty, represents a fitting place for this conference. Who would have thought such a revolution in belief would transpire twenty, let alone two hundred, years ago? Even Catholicism, as Archer's article in its headline claims, now's one of many "new religious movements" and alternatives open to an Irish people utterly changed.
To summarize, then, for you non-Irish News subscribers, you can go to "NUIM Conference Site" for more information, a timetable of speakers, and a guide to getting there if you're so inclined. If only I did not have to travel so far to get there. Jet lag doubtless never effected Maynooth's earlier residents, with whose ghosts I may share my dormitory on Samhain.
Even if it may have taken them-- seminarians and not ghosts-- the long day and rough night and bleary dawn that'll elapse before I get to nearby Dublin. My pilgrimage timed for All Hallows' Eve's eve'll be from not a couple of hundred miles by horse-drawn coach but six thousand miles away by another form of coach transport likely as bumpy and cramped. Some things never change; the road to the venue on the notoriously muddy campus, the site warns, is via a building site and boots and stout shoes recommended.
Presumably not a building site, not muddy yet: "Maynooth Courtyard"