This international conference is convened by St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin and Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3 and will take place in St. Patrick's College, Dublin.
The conference will explore representations of purgatory in Irish literature and culture and examine its significance to the past and relevance to the contemporary moment. Ideas and images of purgatory proliferate in Irish literature. They are present in Irish folktales and in the literature of barren landscapes and liminal spaces of modern and contemporary Irish writers such as Beckett, Yeats, Heaney and MacPherson. The story of the revelation of purgatory to St. Patrick on Station Island in Lough Derg is commemorated in many medieval texts such as Marie France's twelfth-century poem, The Legend of the Purgatory of Saint Patrick. The idea of purgatory is a central concept in Irish literature and culture. Catholic doctrine defines purgatory as a place or state of temporal punishment where souls are cleansed of any stain of sin before entering into the presence of God. This notion of exile and separation has acute resonances for Irish social and cultural history. The doctrine on purgatory also allows that the living may intercede on behalf of the dead and help them gain remission for their wrongdoings, a concept that impacts on notions of community and impinges on the national imagination. The annual celebration of Halloween on the eve of November, month of the dead, ensures the continuance of an awareness of the living dead in popular culture.