To Hell or to Connacht: Stories of Irish Resilience

The fifth installment of the Kylemore Book will focus on the history, politics and culture of the west of Ireland. Kylemore is located in Connemara, Co Galway in the province of Connacht often cited as the cultural heart of Ireland. Known for the unblemished landscape imbued by legends, for years it has been a sanctuary for writers, musicians and artists, it is equally known for the inclement weather, harsh landscape and mass emmigration. This series will explore what about the west of Ireland makes it so unique and enigmatic.
Jun 21, 2024

Top 10 Learning Moments

  1. Even in those dark days with rationing and austerity everywhere, music was the thing that was the one bright light. — Phil Coulter
  2. Growing up, it was a really hard time, a really hard life, but it really stuck to me and I enjoyed every minute of it because certainly for my rugby career it helped me toughen up. — Willie Anderson
  3. I think sport like rugby and music transcend all these things, they rise above it and I’m delighted that rugby rose above the troubles. — Willie Anderson
  4. Everywhere we went, through airports and all, we’d be singing—we always sang. — Willie Anderson
  5. Connacht is a more tight-knit community and because of that, it was easier for me in my different roles with Connacht Rugby for somebody to see me and say, ‘well, maybe there’s somebody who might make a president someday’, and in other provinces, I might have been overlooked. — Ann Heneghan
  6. I think that’s the uniqueness of Connacht; it’s our smallness, if you like, but it’s the heart I think that’s in Connacht and fans and the team play such a huge part and they’re inextricably linked. — Ann Heneghan
  7. It was probably the most accepting group of people I had encountered up to that point in my life. — Phaidra Knight
  8. What that rugby team offered me was really a fresh breath of air. — Phaidra Knight
  9. [Rugby] is very special; there’s a comradery there that you don’t necessarily find in other sports. — Phaidra Knight
  10. Sport transcends so many things […] and one thing that certainly sport does is it includes, it brings people together. — Karl Boyle

Interested in learning more?

This series is hosted by ThinkND, the University of Notre Dame’s online learning community that connects you with videos, podcasts, articles, courses, and other resources to inspire minds and spark conversations on everything from faith and politics to science, technology, and your career.

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Featured Speakers

Eamonn Molloy, Education and Learning, Connacht Rugby and the Irish Rugby Football Union

Justin Hickey, Program Director, Notre Dame Rugby

Lisa Caulfield, Director of the Global Centre at Kylemore

Willie Anderson, Former Irish International Rugby Player

Phil Coulter, Musician and Composer of “Ireland’s Call”

Ann Heneghan, President, Connacht Rugby

Phaidra Knight, Former US Rugby Player

Hannah McCormack, Campaign Manager, Tackle Your Feelings

Karl Boyle, Director of Development, Connacht Rugby

Ireland’s Call: A Story in Rugby and Unity

Dr. Michael Lydon (NUI, Galway) provides the historical context surrounding the song “Ireland’s Call”, including the ban on “foreign games”, rugby as a sport that included the whole of Ireland, and the development of the IRFU flag and anthem.

Koma Gandy: Changing the Game

USA rugby player, mentor, and coach for both the men’s and women’s teams, Koma Gandy, shares about how she got into the sport. Gandy discusses being an international female player, funding her own way to games, as well as the ways in which she has grown as a coach, particularly in the men’s scene. Tune in to learn how rugby has shaped her life.

“I think that’s the uniqueness of Connacht; it’s our smallness, if you like, but it’s the heart I think that’s in Connacht and fans and the team play such a huge part and they’re inextricably linked.”

– Ann Heneghan
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