Keynote Speaker

Brian Dervin Dillon, PhD. 


CCHS is delighted to announce that Brian Dervin Dillon, PhD. will be our Keynote Speaker for the 2018 Annual Meeting. Brian Dervin Dillon is a 5th generation Californian with Gold Rush ancestors, descended from pre-Famine and Famine Irish immigrants, including the earliest (1650) Irishman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. An archaeologist, he is both the son and the father of historians. At twelve Dillon was one of the youngest and most energetic 1960’s San Francisco Hippies. At the ripe old age of 19, he left the Hippie scene for a career in Maya archaeology. A Phi Beta Kappa and Fulbright Fellow, at age 25 Brian was the youngest-ever U.C. Berkeley Ph.D. in Archaeology. Dr. Dillon has done archaeology in California since 1972, in Guatemala and three other Central American countries since 1974. Widely published in Maya and California archaeology and in California history, he was just honored with his 6th consecutive Coke Wood Award for historical writing by Westerners International. Brian was Sheriff of the Los Angeles Corral of the Westerners for 2017.

Brian will be speaking about California, the Irish Paradise.  After more than 600 years of brutal occupation by the English, Ireland suffered one of the worst natural calamities of modern times: the Potato Famine of the mid-1840’s. Now the Emerald Isle truly became hell on earth. One quarter of the Irish population starved to death, and another quarter emigrated, mostly to the United States. The story of Irish immigrants on the American East Coast is well known, almost a cliché. Much less familiar is the history of Irish diaspora “conquistadores” throughout Latin America, including Mexican California, long before the Great Famine. Also overlooked is the story of how the Irish, beginning with the Gold Rush, turned California into the best place to be Irish anywhere in the world. At the same time that the Irish were starving back home in Ireland and being discriminated against on the American Atlantic Seaboard, California had become an Irish Paradise, and Irish people were enjoying freedoms in the Golden State that would be denied them for many years to come everywhere else.

The keynote lunch will be held on Friday, June 22nd from 12-1:30 pm at the Mission San Fernando followed by a tour of the Mission.