The John Walsh Jersey Shore Chapter of the Irish American Cultural Institute (IACI) presents a talk by guest speaker Dr. Linda Dowling Almeida, esteemed professor of Irish Studies at Glucksman Ireland House at New York University (NYU), on Monday, May 13.
Dr. Almeida, whose degrees include a Ph.D. from NYU and a B.A. and M.A. from Boston College, is a
member of the New York Irish History Roundtable and the author of a groundbreaking study of
transatlantic migration entitled Irish Immigrants in New York City, 1945-1995. Her book has been
described as taking “important steps toward understanding modern Irish immigration… [providing] insights into the evolution of the Irish American identity and addressing the role of the United States and Ireland in shaping it.”
The topic for Dr. Almeida’s IACI talk is “Irish-American Culture: Keeping the Tradition Alive” which will draw on the Glucksman Ireland House Oral History Collection in the Archives of Irish America at NYU to share how second and third generation families keep their sense of Irish identity alive through dance, language, and other practices celebrating their ethnic heritage.
NYU’s Oral History Collection Project was initiated in 2005 with a goal to record the experiences of an expansive cross section of Irish Americans—men and women whose life histories transect culture, education, religion, media, business, government—in order to understand the evolution of Irish ethnic identity. Dr. Almeida has been involved with the initiative since its inception as a primary interviewer and currently serves as one of the Project Directors.
Why is oral history important? Dr. Almeida indicates that, “It is a rich resource for scholars and families alike. Oral history provides context to the bare bones of the past and often provides answers to questions unable to be found with conventional primary research. It can be a vital asset in any research project.”
For example, excerpts from the unique collection have been used by researchers and authors alike to illuminate the Irish-American experience. The hundreds of interviews in the NYU collection encompass recollections of immigrants and individuals removed by many generations from their family roots in Ireland sharing reflections on how they maintain links with their ancestral homeland.
Dr. Almeida recommends adding oral history into personal genealogy projects to add a dimension that will enrichen and enliven a family’s narrative. “It’s important to capture your family stories before you’ve forgotten them or there is no one left to ask. You don’t need fancy equipment, you can even record a loved one on your phone. The point is to just ask the questions and get the stories so you can share family memories with the next generation.”
All are welcome to attend Dr. Almeida’s talk on May 13 at the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, 815 16th Avenue, Belmar at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free for IACI and FSOS Belmar members and $10 for guests. For additional information about the meeting or IACI membership, contact Barbara at 732-280-7439.
The IACI is a federally recognized not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to promote an intelligent appreciation of Ireland and the role and contributions of the Irish in American culture. It is the only Irish-American organization that has as its patron the President of Ireland. The IACI John Walsh Jersey Shore Chapter meetings are held on the second Monday of every month.