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18 March - An awful lot so quietly; Owen McCann, son of Ireland, South Africa's first Prince of the Church

School of History, UCC

Dr Alexandra Slaby, University of Normandy, France

Thursday, 18 March 2021, 16.00 (4 PM)
The paper will be delivered via MS Teams.

Please, contact Dr Jérôme aan de Wiel, School of History, for a Teams link:

Paper This introduction to the life, achievements and legacy of Owen Cardinal McCann (1907-1994), South Africa's first Cardinal, will be the first presentation of a fraction of the archives he has left at the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town. Born to an Irish father who had emigrated at the end of the 19th century, over his lifetime which spanned almost the whole 20th century, Owen McCann witnessed the development of segregation laws, and the articulation, implementation and dismantling of the apartheid regime.

This presentation will be an introduction to his ministry as parish priest, archbishop of Cape Town, head of the South African Catholic Bishops Conference, delegate to the Second Vatican Council, and South Africa's first cardinal. It will also seek to show how in his ministry he responded to the attacks on equal human dignity made by the apartheid regime. The Catholic counterpart to Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, his achievements, his pastoral style and his way of influencing government were in marked contrast. Away from the spotlight, as one retired Irish Marist brother told me, he achieved "an awful lot so quietly". Dr Alexandra Slaby is an Associate Professor at the University of Caen Normandy where she teaches British, Irish and South African civilization. She is half-South African. She spent two years as a teaching assistant in Trinity College Dublin whilst researching her PhD thesis on the history of Irish cultural policy, an updated version of which was published in 2010 (Caen UP) and prefaced by Michael D. Higgins. She is a former editor of Etudes Irlandaises (2011-2017) and she was commissioned to write an Histoire de l'Irlande de 1912 à nos jours (Paris: Tallandier, 2016, 2021). She is now researching Irish Catholic presence in South Africa and writing the first biography of Owen Cardinal McCann

College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences

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