Murphy Faculty Conference Room Re-Dedicated

When Irish-American short story writer and novelist Mary Lavin was interviewed by English Professor Catherine (Kate) A. Murphy’s students in 1967, little could they have known how important their exchange would become to scholars of Lavin’s work.

Those who gathered in Sullivan Hall on October 11, 2013, for the memorial re-dedication of the Catherine A. Murphy Faculty Conference Room learned of the importance of “Mary Lavin: An Interview,” which was published in 1979 in a special Lavin issue of the Irish Literary Review. Guest speaker Dr. Maureen O’Rourke Murphy, an internationally acclaimed Irish Studies scholar who teaches at Hofstra University, and Kate’s sisterin- law, told the audience that the “Merrimack interview” as it is known, records one of the few times when Lavin spoke about her craft. Lavin’s image of “an arrow in flight” to explain her imaginative process has become central to an understanding of Lavin’s work, according to O’Rourke Murphy, whose presentation also gave the audience a delightful sense of Kate as coach of Merrimack’s winning College Bowl team, fiction writer, teacher, and lover of people and Border Terriers.

For the re-dedication ceremony, O’Rourke Murphy provided the original typescript of the taped interview. Kathryn Geoffrion Scannell, director of McQuade Library, accepted the typescript for inclusion in the library’s collection. A copy of the typescript is included in the Lavin Archives at Trinity College, Dublin, where Kate received her Ph.D.

Looking over the audience, O’Rourke Murphy, in a tribute to Kate, read a passage written by Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends./And say my glory was I had such friends.”