A group of historians, artists, academics, writers and filmmakers will gather next week in the Downhill-Magilligan-Limavady area for the first annual Bishop Hervey International Summer School.
Coinciding with Derry-Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture, theBishop Hervey Summer School inaugural gathering will run from August 29 – 31, across various venues.
The event will explore the legacy of Bishop of Derry, Frederick Augustus Hervey (1730 - 1803), an extraordinary, expansive figure from Ulster’s 18th century who has been all but forgotten until now.
Bishop Hervey was motivated by a lifelong commitment to inclusion and equality. He imagined a progressive system of education where people of every class and religion might discover and share their talents.
With keynote addresses by historian Thomas Bartlett and literary critic Terry Eagleton, the School will also explore the Bishop’s wide-ranging passions - from art and architecture to food and games, from politics to theology, geology and travel.
Along with a line-up of international speakers, the School will highlight the talents of local artists, historians, musicians, chefs, and writers and welcomes anyone interested in the history - and the future - of Ulster.
Other speakers include Irish Times art and architecture critic Robert O’Byrne, food historian Dorothy Cashman, and broadcaster and journalist Stephen Price.
Archaeologist Malachy Conway will lead a guided tour of the Bishop’s spectacular estate at Downhill Demesne, a National Trust site overlooking Lough Foyle.
Pioneering Irish filmmaker Des Bell will host a special screening of his acclaimed 1991 documentary Redeeming History in the Mussenden Temple at Downhill. Other talks will take place at the new Roe Valley Arts & Culture Centre in Limavady.
The School is sponsored in part by the School of English and History at the University of Ulster, Coleraine and directed by the University’s Dr Willa Murphy.
The Bishop Hervey Summer School takes place from 29 – 31 August. For full programme, list of venues and details go to: www.herveysummerschool.com
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About Bishop Hervey
Bishop of Derry, Frederick Hervey (1730 - 1803) was a larger-than-life figure - a man of wit, culture, generosity, tolerance, and fun. He was also ahead of his time.
Two hundred years before the Good Friday Agreement, Bishop Hervey symbolised many of the highest aspirations of today’s Northern Ireland: peace and prosperity, integrated schools and cross-community projects, a culture rich in art and music.
He campaigned for political and civil liberties for Catholics 50 years before they were granted.He allowed Mass to be said in the crypt of his library, and invited the local priest to dine with him.He bankrolled the first Catholic chapel in Derry, undertook public works projects to relieve poverty, and was a generous patron to the poor.
He was singed by volcanic rocks during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius; he debated the ethics of suicide with Goethe, corresponded with Benjamin Franklin and befriended Voltaire.
And yet he is almost forgotten today.
During his own time, Hervey was often seen as vain and unstable, a colourful character,a figure of fun.But amidst his pursuit of pleasure he was also a figure of serious purpose and thought, a man of boundless energy and generosity, who imagined that an enlightened, equal, and tolerant Ireland was possible.