Brexit – Back to the Future

The theme of this year’s Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford on 20th and 21st August, 2019 reflects the instability evident in the lives of our politicians, businessmen, academics and the wider communities – north and south, east and west.

Sponsored by Mr. Pat O’Callaghan

2019 Summer School highlights includes…

David A. Wilson is a Professor in the Celtic Studies Program and History Department at the University of Toronto, and the General Editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a winner of the University of Toronto’s Outstanding Teaching Award, he has published and edited twelve books, including United Irishmen, United States: Immigrant Radicals in the Early Republic, and a prize-winning two-volume biography of Thomas D’Arcy McGee. He is currently writing a book on the Fenian underground in Canada, and the origins of the Canadian secret police force.

Tim O’Connor is a former Senior Diplomat of the Irish Foreign Service and a former Secretary General to the President of Ireland. He was a member of the Irish Government Talks Team for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and was the inaugural Joint Secretary of the North/South Ministerial Council, based in Armagh, from 1999-2005. He was Consul General of Ireland in New York from 2005-2007. Since his retirement from the public service in 2010, he has combined running his own advisory business with several not-for-profit positions. He was appointed by the Irish Government in 2017 as its Representative on the Independent Reporting Commission dealing with measures to end paramilitarism in Northern Ireland. He is Chairman of the Transition Board of Golf Ireland, the new single governing body for golf on the island of Ireland. Tim holds honorary doctorates from NUI Maynooth (2005), Quinnipiac University (Connecticut, USA) (2007), the University of Ulster (2009) and UCD (2016).

Gerry O’Connor comes from Dundalk, and was taught by his mother, Rose who was a descendant of three generations of fiddle players. With a focus on his local music of Oriel, he is known world-wide as a soloist and as a founder band member of Lá Lugh, Skylark and Oirialla. His playing is noted for its vibrancy and pulsating rhythm which he attributes to his early years of step-dancing and to the influence of John Joe Gardiner with whom he played in the inaugural Comhaltas Seisiún series in the early 1970s. He has recorded 14 albums with his first solo album Journeyman hailed as a landmark album of Irish fiddle music, and has performed with all of the leading performers of the Irish music world including members of the Chieftains, Boys of the Lough, Planxty, De Dannan and Bothy Band. Gerry has published a book of Cathal McConnell’s songs and launched “The Rose in the Gap” a collection of the dance music from the South Ulster region from the turn of the 20th century.

Gerry, who was awarded the coveted Comhaltas Bardic Award at the 2018 All Ireland Fleadh for his valuable contribution to Irish Cultural Arts is also highly regarded as a violin-maker and music producer; he is in constant demand worldwide as a music tutor. His recently released solo album “Last Night’s Joy”, described by David Kidman as

“…..This disc is so much more than just another album of tunes outstandingly well played. The sense of total
immersion in the music-making and the joy that brings is communicated par excellence.”

David Kidman, Folk Radio

Michael D’Arcy began researching and presenting the benefits of an all-island economy by jointly editing the seminal book ‘Border Crossings; Developing Ireland’s Island Economy’ in 1995. Since then he has been the Dublin based subject expert on developing economic and business interaction between Ireland Northern and Ireland.

Michael has: produced reports; advised leadership teams in private and public sector organizations; facilitated strategic roundtable conversations; and lectured at Third Level on developing this key element of sustaining the peace and prosperity being underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement.

Since the UK voted to leave he has been involved in Brexit’s implications for the all-island economy including as the independent advisor to the Ibec/CBI Joint Business Council (JBC). Michael’s most recent publications (in 2018) are as co-author of the British and Royal Irish Academy Brexit Briefing Note on ‘The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the island of Ireland economy and Brexit’ and production coordinator of the joint Ibec/CBI Report ‘Business on a Connected island’.

Dr Ray Bassett is a former senior diplomat at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin. He served as the country’s Ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas 2010-2016. Other diplomatic postings include Copenhagen, Canberra, Belfast (twice), London and Ottawa.

Bassett was involved in the Good Friday Agreement as part of the Irish Government Talks Team and participated throughout the discussions, including the final session at Castle Buildings in Stormont.

He was also Assistant Secretary General in Foreign Affairs in charge of the Passport Office, the welfare of Irish citizens abroad and relations with the Irish Diaspora.

Dr Bassett, who worked as a scientist (biochemist) before entering the diplomatic service, has been a columnist on the Sunday Business Post and has contributed articles to the Newsletter (Belfast), Globe and Mail (Toronto), the Telegraph (UK), and a wide number of other publications. He is a senior research fellow at the British Think Tank, Policy Exchange and also works with the Politeia Think Tank. He is a regular contributor to TV and radio shows in Dublin, Belfast and London.

He has also separately published

  • “After Brexit, will Ireland be Next to leave?”
  • “Brexit and the Border, Where Ireland’s True Interests Lie”
  • “Brexit – Options for the Irish border”
  • “The Commemoration, of the 1798 Insurrection, The Australian dimension”

Claire Sugden is an Independent MLA representing East Londonderry. Claire is the only Independent member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and was the first Independent MLA and youngest to hold full Ministerial office.

Claire is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast where she studied for a BA in Politics and a MA in Irish Politics. Claire is currently studying for a Masters in Political Lobbying and Public Affairs at Ulster University.

Claire is an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program when she worked within the US government in the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010. She managed the Program in 2012. In May 2014 Claire was appointed as a MLA for East Londonderry following the passing of David McClarty MLA. Claire was David’s Parliamentary Assistant for 6 years. Claire also served on Coleraine Borough Council for 2 years during this time. Claire is a passionate advocate for her constituents and works closely with many community and voluntary sector groups locally. She is particularly concerned with helping vulnerable people and those with learning disabilities. Further to leaving the Department of Justice, Claire continues to pursue policy issues relating to domestic abuse, rural crime and crimes against the elderly.

Exit – The Trial of the Conn O’Neill and the Gaelic Lords of Ulster before the Court of History

Written by
Anthony Russell

Presented by
Newpoint Players

Directed by
Donal O’Hanlon

In Anthony Russell’s latest political and historical fantasy Conn O’Neill (Abt. 1574 – 1619), the last Gaelic Lord of east Belfast, is called from the grave to answer the charge that he and his fellow chiefs, including Hugh O’Neill and Rory O’Donnell, betrayed Ulster and her people. Conn O’Neill who rebelled in 1601 is remembered in the names of the Connswater River, bridge and shopping centre.

The prosecutor is Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825-1868), failed Irish rebel, British loyalist and founding father of Canada. The defence lawyer is John Mitchel (1815 – 1875), an unrepentant physical force, Irish republican. Sir Arthur Chichester (1563-1625) Lord Deputy of Ireland and Ellis O’Neill, Con O’Neill’s feisty wife, are called as witnesses.

All are aware of what has happened in Ireland, including Brexit, since they died and comment accordingly. The judge Dionysus Cronos was present at the Trial of Socrates. The audience is the jury. Previous Trials have included the Trial of P. H. Pearse (2016), the Trial of Sir James Craig and the Orange Order (2017) and the Trial of Thomas D’Arcy McGee (2018). All have toured Canada.

…Final Programme details to be released soon


Carlingford Heritage Centre, Old Holy Trinity, Carlingford, Louth
Phone : +353 (0) 42 9373454

All other enquiries to
Tel; 00 44 7545 926 773

Full details on this years event, and for ticket booking can be found at Carlingford Heritage Centre