In late May of 2001 the Spanish Association for Irish Studies (AEDEI) was founded in Burgos by a group of enthusiastic academics who gathered there on three sunny and unforgettable days. The opening session took place with the presence of the Irish ambassador, the president of the university and the mayor of the city, all of them witnessing the historical moment. It was then that our association was created but it is evident that it was not born from scratch but built on some previous pillars. In Spanish universities Irish literature, history or culture were traditionally concealed into subjects such as "Literatura Inglesa" or "Cultura y Civilización Británicas"; nonetheless in the last decades important efforts were made to hold "cells of resistance" by creating Irish panels in national and international associations, promoting research projects, supervising Ph.D. dissertations and contributing with seminal books and essays. In addition, there existed some sort of oral tradition -in the most genuine Irish way- that made up for the lack of academic recognition, the lack of "a room of our own" in the Spanish university premises. A good number of us began to discover Ireland by chance, fate or simply by a random Erasmus programme that provided the younger generations with the "Irish opportunity". All these factors -chance, fate, exchanges- generated a vivid dynamics of story telling in which people shared wonders about their stays in Ireland and passed on enthusiasm, encouragement.
It is not easy to defend the idea of an association in the Internet times. Communication has never been so fast nor has so much information been available to us. Nonetheless, nothing can replace an association that intends to be a true meeting point, a sort of watchtower from which all of us can look at Ireland both individual and collectively, a kind of crossroads of experiences.
We all have shared the heritage of living Ireland from the distance -a frequent strategy in Irish history and culture- and we are aware that in many ways the idea of Ireland -or Irelands, to be more exact- and what it represents to those who live there has been imagined by those who live far away from her. So the young Spanish Association for Irish Studies aims at creating an academic community in which we can contrast viewpoints and unify resources, strength, experiences and expertise.
Much is being talked about the current worldwide "hibernization" and our role as an association -should it be defined- would be to help understand the complexity of "Irishness", which means a long and tough task. In other words, to offer the Spanish response to the wide range of discourses Ireland is writing at present. At the beginning of this millennium Ireland has become a shifting landscape which demands from us the acknowledgement of difference, hybridity and cultural mixing and in which facts like immigration or the peace process, among others, are to provide us with unknown meanings of the term "Irish". So far the results have been ten International Conferences and nine volumes based on them: Praga Terente, Ines (ed) Irlanda Ante un Nuevo Milenio (Burgos 2002), González Rosa (ed) The Representation of Ireland/s (Barcelona 2003), Fernandez and Jaime (eds) Irish Landscapes (Almeria 2004), Trainor and Krauel (eds) Humour and Tragedy in Ireland (Málaga 2005), Altuna and Andreu (eds) Re-writing Boundaries (Barcelona 2007), Carrera et al (eds) The Irish Knot (Valladolid 2008), Clark and Jarazo (eds) In the Wake of the Tiger and To Banish Ghost and Goblin (Coruña 2010) and Morales Ladrón and Elices Agudo (eds) Glocal Ireland (Newcastle 2011). The 10th International Conference, that was held at the University of Oviedo on 25-28 May 2011, is the most recent landmark of our long and marvellous pilgrimage to which all of you are welcome.
Honorary Chairperson of the Spanish Association for Irish Studies