Renmore History Society

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Forthcoming Talks

CosmosRecently the news was announced that the Voyager space probe has finally left the solar system and entered deep space, becoming the most distant manmade object ever. But barely 5,000 years ago our ancestors stared with fear and incomprehension at the bewildering display of lights that appeared nightly over their heads. Armed with nothing more than their wits our species has slowly and haltingly groped towards an understanding of the universe around us and our place in it, and it is amazing to think that by the time we finally did manage to leave this rock in 1961 we had already arrived at a broad understanding of how the universe operated.

This is the story of that quest, from the ancient Egyptians, who saw in the skies the workings of their gods, to the Greeks who sought for a naturalistic explanation of what was happening, through the middle ages when brilliant thinkers fought against the restrictions of their culture and of their own beliefs and assumptions to struggle towards and ever more accurate understanding. It is a story of heroes and cowards, humility and arrogance, imagination and tunnel vision. Along the way we will encounter a host of fascinating characters, some larger than life, some odd and reclusive, some downright potty, including such famous names as Copernicus, Newton, Galileo and Aristotle.

Brian MacGabhann
Thurs 10th Oct 2013

A History of the Holy Inquisition.

From its earliest days combating heresy to later years prosecuting witchcraft, the Holy Inquisition has been one of the most controversial institutions of the church, and one which still arouses debate and disagreement today. This talk charts the origins and development of the Inquisition through its various phases; persecution of the Cathars, suppression of witchcraft, the Spanish Inquisition and its evolution into the organization that still exists today, (the last head of which was Cardinal Ratzinger, the present Pope). It considers some high profile events in its history, including the trial of Joan of Arc and of the Templars.

Ronnie O’Gormann
Thurs 24th Nov 2011

George Bernard Shaw once described Lady Augusta Gregory as "the greatest living Irishwoman". She was born at Roxborough, near Loughrea, into a powerful Protestant ascendancy family. She married Sir William Gregory, and on his death, began her extraordinary personal journey where she became a nationalist in her political views, and the catalyst for the great Irish Literary Revival at the beginning of the last century.

With WB Yeats, and Edward Martyn she co-founded the Abbey Theatre, and managed its affairs for most of her adult life. She wrote numerous plays and short stories, several volumes of folk lore, and translated from the Irish the ancient legends of Ireland.

Ronnie O'Gorman is a journalist, chairman of the Galway Advertiser group, a keen student of Lady Gregory, and is currently promoting of the Lady Gregory centre at Coole. In this talk he examines the life and times of this remarkable Irishwoman.

Professor Fransjohan Pretorius.
Thurs 06th Oct 2011

Fransjohan Pretorius is professor of history at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He is regarded as one of the leading experts on the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. He is the author of six books and editor and co-editor of two others on the subject. Both his Master’s dissertation and doctoral thesis have been published in Afrikaans as well as in English.

The professor is on a speaking tour of Ireland, and has very kindly agreed to deliver a lecture to our society. His talk looks at the foreign volunteers who fought with the Boers against the British, where volunteers from Ireland played a major role.

The reality of life for the ordinary soldier, from Waterloo to WW2.
Brian MacGabhann

Only recently has the voice of the ordinary soldier been heard, and their experiences recorded. For centuries they have been silent; their experiences interpreted and reported on by others. But this has led to some significant misunderstandings of what actually happens in battle, both among historians and among the public at large.

This talk looks at the reality of life for the ordinary soldier in battle, and seeks to record and report their actual experience of it. In doing so it throws up some remarkable facts, such as that in even the fiercest battle, nearly half of those in the thick of it never fired their weapon, or the fact that there is no recorded instance of an actual bayonet charge, or that Napoleonic cavalry charges never actually came into contact with each other. The talk makes use of history, psychology, movies, and even a bit of poetry.