The Experience of the Second Vatican Council
Wednesday 21st March 8:00 pm
Bishop Michael Smith was a student in Rome in the period 1962-65 when the Second Vatican Council took place. He attended all 168 sessions of the Council, where he worked as a note taker. He can now be said to be one of a dwindling band of witnesses who were present at the entire Council. The lecture will focus in the first place on what can be called the prehistory of the Council, the almost 100 years of what was in fact preparation for the Council. Two previous Popes (before Pope John XXIII) had expended considerable time and energy preparing for a Council, but the idea was abandoned after much work. The lecture will also highlight some of the pivotal moments during the four years of the Council, moments that decided the course that it would take.
Bishop Michael Smith was born in Oldcastle, Co. Meath in 1940. He was educated at Gilson National School, Oldcastle and at St. Finian's College, Mullingar. He studied for the priesthood in the Irish College, Rome. He was ordained priest in March 1963. He was conferred with a Doctorate in Canon Law by the Lateran University, Rome in 1966. He was appointed Bishop in November 1983.
In her talk on the Bective Abbey project Geraldine will be discussing the results of four seasons of archaeological excavation that took place between 2009 and 2012 at Bective Abbey, Co. Meath. Bective, founded in 1147, was the first Cistercian monastery in Meath. Research excavations revealed the farming methods practiced by this monastic order, long credited for much agricultural innovation in Ireland. The chance discovery of a medieval barn – with drainage systems, plough and grain store – proves that the abbey acted as the nerve centre of their vast (1,800ha) ecclesiastical estate farm. Finds from the Abbey’s fifteenth century remodelling and subsequent transition into Tudor mansion, bring to life the material culture of the Abbey before and after the reformation and confiscation.
Dr Geraldine Stout, an archaeologist with the National Monuments Service, is the foremost authority on the archaeology of the Boyne Valley. She has published on various aspects of the prehistory and historical geography of the Valley including Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne (2002) and Excavation of a secular cemetery at Knowth Site M, Co. Meath (with Matthew Stout, Wordwell, 2008). Her current research interest is the landscape of the Irish Cistercian grange. The Bective Abbey Project is one aspect of that investigation.
What foods were most commonly eaten in Ireland from the earliest times?
Wednesday 25th April 8:00 pm
An overview will be presented in this lecture of the main food products typically consumed by the Irish population at large from prehistoric times and on through the medieval period. Dairy and cereal foods, supplemented by fruits and vegetables, were the mainstay of the common historical diets. Relative to these , the consumption of beef and fish by the general population appears to have been much more limited. Notwithstanding this, the staple foods commonly consumed could have provided much of the main nutritional requirements of the general population.
Professor Liam Downey was, for over a decade from the early 1960s, engaged in research and development of dairy products. Arising from this work he published a book entitled Food Quality and Nutrition. This set out Europe’s food research requirements. Over the following two decades he was Director of four national organisations, most recently of Teagasc. In 2001 he published a Foresight study, which presented a 2020 perspective on the agri-food sector in Ireland. Over the past decade he has been Adjunct Professor of Archaeology at UCD, and of Biology at Maynooth University. Together with his colleague Prof. Muiris Ó Súilleabháin he has recently published a book entitled Antiquities of Rural Ireland, which synopsises the current state of knowledge in respect of Ireland's prominent archaeological features, many of which are associated with the progressive evolution over the centuries of Ireland's farming and rural economy.