Exploring the legacy of the remarkable Bishop Hervey

(c) National Trust, Ickworth; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Trust, Ickworth; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A group of historians, artists, academics, writers and filmmakers will gather next week in the Downhill-Magilligan-Limavady area for the first annual Bishop Hervey International Summer School.

Coinciding with Derry’s year as UK City of Culture, the Bishop Hervey Summer School inaugural gathering will run from August 29 – 31 across various venues.

The event will explore the legacy of Bishop of Derry, Frederick Augustus Hervey (1730 - 1803), an extraordinary and expansive figure from Ulster’s 18th century.

A spokesperson for the School said; “Bishop Hervey was motivated by a lifelong commitment to inclusion and equality. He imagined a progressive system of education where people of every class and religion might discover and share their talents.

“Bishop of Derry, Frederick Hervey campaigned for political and civil liberties for Catholics 50 years before they were granted.

“He allowed Mass to be said in the crypt of his library, and invited the local priest to dine with him. He bankrolled the first Catholic chapel in Derry, undertook public works projects to relieve poverty, and was a generous patron to the poor.”

Bishop Hervey was a remarkable character and a great traveller. He was singed by volcanic rocks during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, he debated the ethics of suicide with Goethe, corresponded with Benjamin Franklin and befriended Voltaire.

The school will feature keynote addresses by historian Thomas Bartlett and literary critic Terry Eagleton. It will also explore the Bishop’s wide-ranging passions - from art and architecture to food and games, from politics to theology, geology and travel.

The spokesperson said; “Along with a line-up of international speakers, the School will highlight the talents of local artists, historians, musicians, chefs, and writers and welcomes anyone interested in the history - and the future - of Ulster.”

Other speakers at the summer school include Irish Times art and architecture critic Robert O’Byrne, food historian Dorothy Cashman and broadcaster and journalist Stephen Price.

Archaeologist Malachy Conway will lead a guided tour of the Bishop’s spectacular estate at Downhill Demesne, a National Trust site overlooking Lough Foyle.

Pioneering Irish filmmaker Des Bell will host a special screening of his acclaimed 1991 documentary ‘Redeeming History ‘in the Mussenden Temple at Downhill.

Other talks will take place at the new Roe Valley Arts & Culture Centre in Limavady.

The School is sponsored in part by the School of English and History at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, and directed by the University’s Dr Willa Murphy.

It takes place from Thurs., 29 – Sat. 31 August.

For full programme, list of venues and details go to: www.herveysummerschool.com