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Boston College Center for Irish Programs.



We welcome Professor Guy Beiner as Burns Scholar in Irish Studies for the academic year, 2019-20. Guy is a full professor of history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel, where he teaches a range of courses on late-modern Europe (including Ireland). He holds a PhD in modern Irish history from University College Dublin, where he was a Government of Ireland Scholar. He was also a fellow of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, a Keough National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the University of Notre Dame, a Government of Hungary Scholar at the Central European University, and a Gerda Henkel Marie Curie senior fellow at the University of Oxford. He is co-editor, alongside Oona Frawley and Ray Cashman, of the Indiana University Press series Irish Culture, Memory, Place.

Professor Beiner specializes in the historical study of remembering and forgetting. His book Remembering the Year of the French: Irish Folk History and Social Memory (University of Wisconsin Press) won multiple awards, including the Ratcliff Prize for the Study of Folklore of Great Britain and Ireland and the Wayland D. Hand Prize for an outstanding publication in history and folklore. His recently-published book, Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster (Oxford University Press), has been listed as a Times Literary Supplement book of the year and received, at this year's ACIS conference, Honorable Mention for the James S. Donnelly, Sr., Prize for Books in History and Social Sciences. He is currently editing a book on the global history of forgetting, rediscovering, and remembering the Great Flu pandemic of 1918-1919.

He is excited about the possibility of availing himself of the collections of the Burns Library during his year at Boston College, in order to rethink historical categories of transnationalism, nationalism, and regionalism. Professor Beiner plans to undertake comparative biographical research on two polymath antiquarians: the Dublin-based Catholic physician, travel writer, novelist, journalist, colonial administrator, abolitionist, and historian Richard Robert Madden (1798-1886) and the Belfast-based Protestant solicitor, archaeologist, naturalist, social reformer, cultural revivalist, and historian Francis Joseph Bigger (1863-1926). By excavating their respective neglected contributions to Irish intellectual-cultural history, he seeks to tease out the seemingly paradoxical crossovers of transnational nationalism and nationalist regionalism, both of which have far-reaching implications for current debates.

Having repeatedly won awards for excellence in teaching, Guy is particularly keen on trying out new ideas in the classroom and sharing with students the interdisciplinary methodological challenges of using less-conventional historical sources. While Burns Scholar he will offer a course titled "A Day in History and Memory: Bloody Sunday, Northern Ireland, 1972-2010" and a course on "Commemoration Fever: Heritage, Remembrance and Forgetting in Contemporary Ireland." Coming quite literally from a desert, he admits that he is thirstily looking forward to benefitting from the blooming environment of Irish Studies at Boston College.


On February 23, Connolly House and the Boston College (BC) Irish Studies Program hosted the second annual Comhfhios: Boston College, an Irish Studies conference for emerging scholars. Comhfhios, meaning "open to all knowledge" or "knowledge together," is a conference organized by graduate students in Irish Studies at BC and is meant to foster an interdisciplinary, congenial, accepting, and innovative conversation about approaches to Irish Studies. This year's conference theme was "Anois [now]: Navigating the Field in 2019," and centered on ways in which early career scholars and graduate students can best traverse the many challenges in Irish Studies, academia, and beyond.

The conference included twenty-five participants, including nineteen graduate students and seven faculty members, from a total of eleven universities. The sizable contingent of participants was divided into one panel, three roundtables, and a keynote address delivered by Dr. Patrick Griffin (University of Notre Dame). The panel included three papers that addressed the theme of "Past & Present: Irish Studies Scholarship Today." The three roundtables, titled "Alt-Act? What's that?", "To Digital Humanities and Beyond," and "How to Succeed in Academia," each brought graduate students and faculty together to discuss how these topics simultaneously benefit and challenge emerging scholars. The keynote address was titled "The Ties That Bind: Ireland, America, & The Age of Revolutions."

We would like to thank Dr. James H. Murphy, Director of the Irish Studies Program at BC, for his generous support of our conference, and thanks also to Joan Reilly, Assistant to the Director of Irish Studies, for her hard work and patience in helping organize the conference. Lastly, the organizing committee would like to thank each participant and attendee. We hope to see you again next year!

If you would like to be involved or participate in Comhfhios please contact the planning committee at


2019 marks the centenary of the Long Committee's report to the United Kingdom Parliament recommending the partition of Ireland. This anniversary occurs as the Irish border is at the center of international attention and negotiations over Brexit. On April 27, Irish Studies held a one-day conference at Connolly House, attended by over 40 people, to look at the partitioning of Ireland. It was organized by Professor Neil Fleming of the University of Worcester, in the United Kingdom. The speakers looked at the issue under three headings.

The first session considered Ireland's partition in a global context. Jason Knirck, Central Washington University and a former Burns Scholar, looked at the international comparisons that were made concerning the partitioning of Ireland. Irish nationalists and the British government each sought analogies in world history to explain their views on the north's potential separation from the rest of Ireland. The British government alternated between arguing that Ireland contained two nations--akin to the Boers and English in South Africa or the French and English in Canada--that could only be brought together under Britain's aegis and claiming that the United Kingdom was a single nation that Irish nationalists were trying to sunder using the methods of the American Confederacy. Irish nationalists sought procedural guidance in some of the plebiscites mandated under the Treaty of Versailles, such as that held in Upper Silesia.

Erik Goldstein, Boston University, viewed partition in the European context. Notions of partition emerged during the First World War, and the subsequent peace conference at Versailles, as a tool in arranging the European map in such a way as to minimize the possibility of ethnic tension bringing about major conflict. The idea emerged that partition could be used as a form of preventative medicine which would match the wishes of peoples to their sovereign states. Shannon Monaghan, Harvard University, then showed how the notion of "population engineering," popular in political thinking in the western European victor states (Britain, France, and Italy) of the First World War, influenced thinking in Ireland. She demonstrated how the never implemented recommendations of the Irish Boundary Commission, established to fine tune the Irish border, reflected new European thought about minority populations within postwar democracies. In the aftermath of the First World War, democracy had become the watchword for a new Europe--yet it was a conception of democracy based on the unstable pillars of both individual-rights based liberalism and group-rights based national self-determination. As people became more involved in choosing their governments, governments also became more involved in choosing their people.

The second panel looked at the ways in which partition divided certain political communities from within. Timothy McMahon, Marquette University, examined divisions within Unionism. Neil Fleming discussed the ways in which the British Conservative Right cynically used partition--in ratifying the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and three years later during the Boundary Commission crisis--to damage UK-Irish relations rather than to promote their declared aim of shoring up the Ulster Unionists. Robert McNamara, Ulster University, focused on the Irish politician Frank McDermott, who was a critic of Irish government policy on the partition question. In the 1930s, he wondered how the de Valera government could square the circle of wanting to break most links with Britain, while claiming to be interested in ending partition.

The final panel looked at the later effects of partition. Peter McLoughlin, Queen's University Belfast and a current Fulbright Scholar with Irish Studies at Boston College, focused on northern nationalism, wherein the need to jettison the sterile and failed politics of anti-partitionism became more acute in the postwar period--not least due to the movement of southern nationalism towards de facto recognition of the Northern Ireland state. Sean McGraw, University of Notre Dame, reflected on the ways in which the divisions of partition and the civil war continued to underpin politics in the Republic of Ireland where the focus was on localism, with more structural issues being diverted to other forums outside of parliamentary politics. Finally, Bridget Keown, of Northwestern University, looked at gender in independent Ireland, particularly in the medical profession. She focused especially on the debate on whether medical registration of Irish doctors should have an Irish base or be allowed through United Kingdom medical institutions.



March 2020 will mark 30 years since the musicologist, composer, and pianist Dr. Micheal O Suilleabhain (1950-2018) established Irish music resources at Boston College. In 1990, as a visiting faculty member from University College Cork, he inaugurated programming by creating the landmark Irish fiddle festival, "My Love is in America," and worked to establish the Irish Music Archives at John J. Burns Library.

Following his six months at Boston College, the University's connection with O Suilleabhain was maintained by Seamus Connolly, who directed Irish music and dance programming in BC's Irish Studies program as Sullivan Artist-in-Residence. At Connolly's invitation, O Suilleabhain made return visits as a guest performer in 2003, 2005, and 2012. He was honored in 2005 for his contributions to Boston College by vice president William B. Neenan, S.J.

From 1994 to 2016, O Suilleabhain served as Professor of Music at University of Limerick, where he founded the renowned Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. In 2018, he wholeheartedly agreed to Burns Library posting oral history interviews conducted at the 1990 BC Fiddle Festival. These conversations with fiddle players Johnny Cronin, Paddy Cronin, Andy McGann, and Johnny McGreevy are now part of an Irish Music Archives YouTube playlist at Additional Irish Fiddle Festival recordings from 1990 are also available for listening and/or viewing at Burns Library's Irish Music Archives.

O Suilleabhain's influence at Boston College is evident today, through both the Gaelic Roots Series and the Irish Music Archives. We invite you to learn more about Burns Library's archival holdings by contacting Elizabeth Sweeney, Irish Music Librarian, at

* THE EGAN IRISH HARPS BOOK LAUNCH On May 17, Burns Library hosted a book launch event in partnership with the Irish Georgian Society to celebrate the publication of The Egan Irish Harps: Traditions, Patrons, and Players by Nancy Hurrell, harpist, harp historian, and consultant to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The copiously illustrated volume was published by Four Courts Press with support from Burns Library and appreciation for Hurrell's long association with its Irish Music Archives. Hurrell first visited Burns Library to study an Irish Portable Harp that was on loan from noted music collector Frederick R. Selch. The harp, designed by the Dublin maker John Egan (fl. 1797-1829), was later donated by Selch through his widow Patricia Bakwin Selch. Hurrell facilitated the donation of a Royal Portable Irish Harp from soprano Heidi Nitze in 2002. Both Egan harps are on display in the Irish Room of Burns Library.

Hurrell spent over a decade visiting museums and private collections around the world, becoming the leading authority on Egan and the first to record a collection of period music on the Egan harp. For her book launch at Boston College, Hurrell performed traditional tunes on her Irish Portable Harp, explaining how Egan's innovations in harp design and decoration melded neoclassical Georgian art with Ireland's folk heritage and nationalist aspirations. Hurrell was also invited to hold launch events at the Irish Traditional Music Archives in Dublin, Royal Academy of Music Museum in London, and other venues.

Hurrell serves on the boards of the Historical Harp Society of America and the Scottish Harp Society of America. She is a performer in several Boston early music ensembles, and has been a harp instructor at the Boston Conservatory and Brandeis University.


In late 2016, Burns Library acquired the papers of Irish-American musician, poet, writer, and editor Terence Patrick Winch. The collection, which includes 25 linear feet of correspondence, manuscript and typescript drafts, handmade books, audio and video recordings, flyers, posters, clippings, and photographs, is now available to researchers.

Winch was born in New York City in 1945. He grew up in an Irish neighborhood in the Bronx, the child of Irish immigrants. In 1971, he moved to Washington, DC, where he helped establish the weekly Mass Transit poetry reading series, publishing the first issue of its magazine and co-founding Some of Us Press with Michael Lally and other avant-garde poets. With his brother Jesse, Winch also founded the original Celtic Thunder band, whose name was co-opted decades later by PBS. An Irish traditional musician from childhood, Winch wrote much of the material for the band's three albums, including the popular song "When New York Was Irish."

Winch has published two collections of short stories, including That Special Place: New World Irish Stories, which derives from his experiences with Celtic Thunder. He has also published eight books of poetry, among them Irish Musicians/American Friends, selected for the American Book Award in 1986.

Winch worked for the Smithsonian Institution for 24 years, mostly as publications chief for the National Museum of the American Indian. He was also an artist-in-residence at Corcoran College of Art and its first writing teacher.

The acquisition of Winch's papers prompted Burns Library to purchase a collection of more than a hundred scarce poetry chapbooks and magazines from the DC poetry scene from bookseller Brian Cassidy, who served as Winch's agent. More recently, Winch and Cassidy positioned Burns Library to acquire the papers of Welsh poet Doug Lang, who came to Washington and became part of the Mass Transit poetry movement in 1973.


With Boston as the venue for the 2019 annual meeting of the American Conference of Irish Studies, and Boston College as a sponsor and repository for ACIS's organizational records, it was only fitting that Burns Library would take the lead on organizing "A Day @ the Library" showcase event geared to helping conference attendees learn about primary research collections at several leading institutions with major Irish Studies holdings.

On Friday, March 22, the former library room in Boston's historic Park Plaza Hotel was transformed into a festive fair, with librarians and archivists representing both American and Irish institutions, including Queen's University Belfast, University College Dublin, Boston College, New York University, University of Kansas, University of Notre Dame, University of South Florida, and Ward Irish Music Archives in Milwaukee. Dozens of attendees stopped by their tables throughout the day, picking up brochures, browsing online resources, and consulting with librarians about their research. The fair concluded in the evening with a traditional music session.



Applications are currently invited for the 2020 William B. Neenan, S.J. Visiting Fellowship at Boston College-Ireland. The Fellowship is named to honour the work of Father Neenan, who came to Boston College in 1979 as the inaugural Thomas I. Gasson Professor. Father Neenan served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1980 to 1987 before assuming the role of academic vice president and dean of faculties. During his tenure, the University established itself among the nation's top institutions of higher education. From 1998, he was vice president and special assistant to the president. Sadly, Father Neenan passed away in 2014.

The Fellowship is open to any scholar working in the field of Irish Studies and requires that a period of time be spent conducting research in Dublin. The Fellowship may be held at any time over the course of the 2020 calendar year, for a required minimum of six weeks. The holder of the Fellowship will be awarded a stipend in the amount of [euro]7,500, have access to the Boston College-Ireland building, with an office and administrative support. In addition, Boston College Ireland will work with the Visiting Fellow to organise a one-day symposium that will include a number of invited speakers and will be arranged around the research interests of the Fellow.

The closing date for Fellowship applications is Monday, November 25, 2019. To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, with details of your proposed research and outputs, to Professor Mike Cronin
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Publication:Irish Literary Supplement
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Sep 22, 2019
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