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Ireland 101, Punk-Rock Style

Larry Kirwan


So, how do you think a university might prep a handful of students for a spring break trip to Ireland? Pass out a few brochures? Refer them to some websites for 60-year-old tourists?

Larry Kirwan
Larry Kirwan

Not at Neumann. To give four students a taste of real Irish culture before a February 25 to March 5 trip, Neumann has arranged for the students to meet the lead singer for Irish rock band Black 47. The meeting won't take place in a seminar room, either. It's set for a local pub at 7 p.m. on February 18.

That evening, the students will chat with punk legend Larry Kirwan, the voice of Black 47 for 25 years before the group disbanded in 2014. He's also the host of Celtic Crush, a weekly show on Sirius Satellite Radio.


Black 47, named for the worst year of the Irish potato famine (1847), cut 13 CDs, including Fire of Freedom, Iraq, and Bankers and Gangsters.


According to John Donohue, who wrote an article about Kirwan for The New Yorker in 2015, the singer's music fits perfectly with the Irish tradition of political rebellion. Donohue writes: "With songs about the revolutionary leader Michael Collins, the socialist hero James Connolly, and the hunger-strike protester Bobby Sands, the band introduced a generation to the history that shaped Eire."


Who better than Kirwan to ready the students for a trip to Ireland where they will tour landmarks of and learn about The Easter Rising on its 100th anniversary? (The Rising was an armed insurrection during Easter week in 1916, meant to end British rule and establish an independent Irish republic.)


Accompanying the students on the trip will be three members of the campus ministry team. The group will stay and work at the Carline Learning Centre in Dublin, and visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells.



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