In the Name of the Father

Saturday 5 October 2019 - Ireland

A one-day conference with Dermot Bolger, Andrew Samuels, Ross Skelton, and Brendan Staunton SJ

The theme of this day is, in part, inspired by Sigmund Freud’s observation that the death of the father is the most significant moment in a man’s life. This must surely be true for many, but Freud’s concept of the Oedipus complex is now considered problematic. Written in a time and place radically different from contemporary Ireland, his view of the boy’s emerging sexual identity within the traditional family now requires a fresh theoretical framework to explain the many meanings of fatherhood today, and the developmental task of becoming a man.




Registration and coffee

Dermot Bolger
Adapting Ulysses: The Father and Son in Irish Literature
The playwright Dermot Bolger will reflect on his own personal experiences of being a father and a son. He will explore how public perception of those roles has changed in Ireland within his life and examine how these complex relationships have been explored within Irish writing, drawing both on his own work and on his experience of adapting James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses, for the stage.


Andrew Samuels
The Father’s Body
The figure of ‘the father’ is still a little mysterious, despite the work of several therapists and analysts, including Andrew. We know a lot about the abusive damage a father can do to sons and daughters – but less about what the presence of a good-enough father provides. Avoiding idealisation, Andrew will root his talk in explorations of the strong embodied dynamics between father and daughter, and between father and son. But he also wants to show that an absent father is not a recipe for instant emotional disaster, and that families headed by one or by two women should not be viewed suspiciously by clinicians.

Lunch break

Professor Ross Skelton
Edge of Eden
Winnicott famously remarked that there is “no such thing as a baby”. In this paper Ross Skelton will suggest that “there is no such thing as a father” in the sense that the child not only sees father as an independent person but also as ‘father’ as mirrored by ‘mother’. Skelton will share portions of Eden Halt, and material from an as yet unpublished new memoir, to consider the impact of a childhood marked initially by an absent father and subsequently by one who, as a result of his own trauma in World War II, became a violent presence in the home. Skelton will further consider his underestimation of the significance of the appearance of this new person who “came back from the war” on his whole life.


Brendan Staunton SJ
The Family of Philip IV
This presentation will explore the concept of ‘Fathers’ via the use of a particular painting, Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas. This work will serve as the medium to explicate how the role of the ‘Father’ is behind many an enigmatic question. The painting, originally entitled The Family of Philip IV, has been the basis of extensive academic commentary and provides an innovative vantage point to examine themes such as family dynamics, patriarchy and power.



Handouts and refreshments included

Confer member:
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£70 (IACAT, PSI, IACP, IAHIP, ICP and EEAI members)


Self-funded x 2:



Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event


National Museum of Ireland
Decorative Arts & History
Collins Barracks
Benburb Street
Dublin 7


09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:15 Tea
17:00 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.