Author Yann Mantel addresses the capacity crowd at the Halifax Central Library in March.

Two Nights and Two Sites for Cyril Byrne Memorial Lecture

By Maroon & White | spring 2017

The annual Cyril J. Byrne Memorial Lecture took on a new dimension this year, with hundreds of Haligonians taking part in a special two-night celebration featuring Booker Prize-winning novelist Yann Martel. The author of Life of Pi, Beatrice & Virgil, and the new novel The High Mountains of Portugal, Martel filled the Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall to capacity on March 23, for a rumination on the theme of loss in his work. The following evening, during a celebration in the McNally Theatre Auditorium, he led a lively discussion on the power of the imagination.

“The arts give you the tools to deal with life,” says Martel. “It’s through imagination and metaphor that we understand the world.” The joint event celebrated the unique partnership between Saint Mary’s and the Halifax Public Library. It also served to remember the spirit of the lecture series’ namesake, Dr. Byrne, who spent much of his career forging connections between the university and the wider community. Recent lecturers have included Room author Emma Donoghue, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliot Clarke, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford.

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