November 8 & 9, 2019

IrishFest Atlanta



Mick Moloney

TWO ROADS DIVERGED: A Talk on Irish & Black Contributions to American Music and Dance

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM Saturday, Ballroom Stage

Introduction and post-lecture discussion by Jim Flannery, Professor Emeritus at Emory University and Executive Director of W.B. Yeats Foundation

Drawing from the traditional background and diaspora of two oppressed peoples, enslaved Africans and Irish immigrants Mick Moloney explores the curious and tumultuous journey of the banjo, fiddle, jig, joke and jump, dance, song, shuffle and clog.

The cultural dialogue begins at the departure point of two diverse cultures in the 18th century; their early 19th century encounter in the Caribbean, amalgamation in New Orleans' Congo Square, entry into America along the Mississippi after 1803, the 1840’s escape to Appalachia, and their arrival and confrontation in America’s urban cities by the beginning of the Civil War.

Moloney demonstrates the collision of African and Irish cultures as they encounter each other on the American stage through examples from pre and post war Minstrel era, Jim Crow era burlesque and Vaudeville, turn of century Tin Pan Alley, and film and Broadway between the two world wars. Tap dance, Old Time Music and bluegrass are clear genres that reflect the complex relationship between the two groups. 


David O'Connell
"The Irish and Catholic Roots of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind"
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM Saturday, Stone Mountain Room

The world was stunned, esp. the secular media in this country, several years ago, when Joe Mitchell, nephew of Margaret Mitchell, bequeathed millions to Christ the King Church and the Archdiocese. But if they had read my Irish Roots, they would not have been surprised. 

My talk will describe how Margaret Mitchell's Irish and Catholic upbringing influenced characters, plot, meaning and message of GWTW. She was baptized as an infant at Sacred Heart Church in 1900 by Fr. Guinan. He was pastor and a co-founder of Marist College which was right next door, opened in 1901, and also run by the Marist Fathers. Everything about her world view was Catholic to a large extent.

About Dr. David O'Connell

Professor Emeritus

Ph.D., Princeton University 1966

Retired May 2010

David O'Connell is an Emeritus Professor of French at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he taught from 1988 to 2010, while also serving as department chairman for five years. Previous to that, he also held tenured positions at the University of Illinois-Chicago (where he also served as chairman) and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He completed his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1966 where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, the Herbert Montgomery Bergen Fellow in Romance Languages and a National Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellow.  He conducted his doctoral research in Paris as a Fulbright scholar. 

Before beginning his academic career in 1968, he served as an officer in the U. S. Army for two years, including 12 months in Vietnam. His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the National Defense Medal. He was discharged in 1968 with the rank of captain.    

At Georgia State, he taught both Medieval and Twentieth Century literature courses as well as all the courses in Business French and Translation. In 1992, the French Government inducted him into its Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of the Academic Palms), with the rank of “chevalier,” or “knight,” in recognition of his many scholarly works published prior to that date as well as for other contributions to the profession. From 1979 until 2001, as Field Editor of Twayne's World Authors Series monographs, an imprint of Macmillan / Simon & Schuster, he edited more than eighty books on various French literary and cultural topics. Among his book publications in more recent years were Michel de Saint Pierre, a Catholic Novelist at the Crossroads and François Mauriac Revisited. 

Dr. O’Connell is also engaged in a continually developing body of research stemming from his interest in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, resulting in the publication of The Irish Roots of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind and Furl That Banner: The Life of Abram J. Ryan, the Poet-Priest of the South. His study of the life and work of Wilbur Kurtz, The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur Kurtz: Inspired by Southern History, appeared in October 2013, and is an extension of that research interest.  

In 2009, David O'Connell was awarded the Archbishop John Francis Donoghue Award by the Tara Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for his meritorious service and commitment to Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. 

He is currently preparing the Second Edition of The Irish Roots of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.