Eyes Are Smiling
IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, for its size, no nation has given more to world culture than that tiny island set in the North Atlantic, says James W. Flannery, professor of performing arts and director of the W. B. Yeats Foundation.
Ireland is the tiny island to which Flannery is referring. The occasion for his observation is the tenth anniversary of the Yeats Foundation, an organization designed to honor William Butler Yeats, whose work as a dramatist, folklorist, poet, and political activist during the early part of this century, Flannery says, influenced virtually everything of import in the life and culture of modern Ireland.
The foundation strives to bring alive the experience of Irish culture at Emory and in Atlanta. During the week of St. Patricks Day 1999, the foundation brought to Emory former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith and Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army and an author of the 1998 Good Friday agreement between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
In 1997, the foundation commemorated the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Irish famine with an exhibition, lectures, and a Mass of the Martyrs.
Each year, the foundation sponsors the Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert at Glenn Memorial auditorium. From 1989 to 1993, it was instrumental in developing and supporting the Yeats International Theatre Festival at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The Yeats Foundation provides scholarshipsfourteen to date, including three in the summer of 1999for Emory students to travel to Ireland and attend the Yeats International Theatre Festival and the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, where Yeats lived and wrote.
Flannery has big plans for the foundation. In 19992000, he hopes to host a conference on Celtic Christianity in the sixth through ninth centuries, with co-sponsorship from the Candler School of Theology and the Department of Religion. Long-range projects include a PBS film series of several Yeats plays performed in Ireland and a Yeats Theatre Institute in Ireland, which would serve as an international conservatory and adult education center in the performing arts.S.P.