This one-day event at The Old Library, The Hayes, Cardiff on Saturday November 3, 2001 placed Welsh and Irish writers and scholars side by side to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing both cultures: translation. Does itranslation of Welsh and Irish language works represent a final capitulation to the global power of English? Or can it offer a more fruitful model of cultural exchange? Translation offers an especially fruitful theme for such a meeting of Welsh and Irish poets, translators, broadcasters and academics with people of any linguistic background, interest or ethnic origin.
Each speaker presented his/her own views on the theory and practice of translation, and reflected on the role of English in the global transmission of Welsh and Irish writing. Joseph Clancy, a highly respected translator and writer, who has described translation as the art of the impossible, offered an analysis of the future of literary translation in Wales.
The renowned Welsh poet Menna Elfyn read from her recent work, and discussed the process of transformation that takes place when poems move from one language to another.
The global success of Irish writing in English has meant that translation is subject to different pressures and demands in Ireland. Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poems, written in the distinctive Irish of County Kerry, have gained a worldwide reputation. She read from her work and discussed the issues involved.
The critic Declan Kiberd speculated on the silent process of translation that takes place when Irish writers in English borrow (or steal?) from the Irish language.
The programme was as follows:
10.00 to 11.30 am: Joseph Clancy, Translation: The Art of the Impossible? Chair: Claire Connolly.
12. 00 to 1.30pm: Nuala Ní Dhomnhaill, Translating Gendered Languages. Chair: Angharad Price.
2.30 to 4.00pm: Menna Elfyn, Welsh Writing on an International Stage. Chair: Stephen Knight.
4.30 to 5.30pm: Declan Kiberd, Tradition and Resistance: The Influence of the Irish Language on John McGahern's Fiction. Chair: Catherine Belsey.
5.00 to 7.30pm: Reception, sponsored by the Consulate General of Ireland in Wales.
Arranged by Cardiff University in association with the Wales Famine Forum and with the support of Cardiff University, the Welsh Academy, the Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland and Comhluadar Caerdydd.