Hickory – Lenoir-Rhyne University announces it will host the 31st annual 2021 Southern Region Chapter of the American Conference for Irish Studies set to run from March 18-20.

The conference, originally scheduled for November 2020, was pushed to March 2021 in the hopes of being able to hold it in person, but COVID-19 has forced it to be held virtually.

LR last hosted the conference in 1992 when Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney served as a guest speaker.

“I have offered the most rigorous and dynamic collection of programs and performances I could,” said conference director Dr. Rand Brandes, who directs the Visiting Writers Series and Lineberger Center for LR. “I’ve given it everything so that everyone who is attending from across the country and internationally will be able to say it’s an amazing conference.”

The conference has a theme of Walk on Air: The Politics and Poetics of Transcendence and Terror and begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 18 and features papers and presentations during the next two days.

Key presentations include a virtual tour of Emory University’s Irish Literary Archives, a panel discussing Heaney’s work from Trinity College Dublin, a celebration of ACIS poets, a music performance by Cherish the Ladies and an address from Ciara O’Floinn, the Consul General of Ireland for the Southeastern United States.

Dr. Michael Deckard, associate professor of philosophy, of Lenoir-Rhyne is also presenting at the conference.

“There are different dimensions to the conference,” Brandes said. “There are those that are scholarly and are going to present their ideas to panels, and there are those in academics who are interested in attending to listen and hear what people have to say. There’s also another dimension. On Thursday and Friday, Colm Tóibín and Patrick Radden Keefe are presenting, and they’re also part of the Visiting Writers Series. Their presentations are free and open to the public.”

Lenoir-Rhyne students are able to attend the entire conference free of charge as long as they register in advance. Registration is $150 and closed; however, interested parties can register late for an additional fee at acissouth.com to secure a place in the conference.