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Irish ambassador to deliver keynote speech

Maddie Hanna | Friday, October 1, 2004

Irish ambassador to the United States Noel Fahey will inaugurate Notre Dame’s new Irish language and literature department with a keynote address today at 3 p.m. at McKenna Hall.

According to Eamonn O’Ciardha, professor in the Keough Institute for Irish Studies, Fahey’s discussion of “Ireland, Europe and the United States: A Post-Presidency Perspective” is of great relevance.

“It’s a very important topic because the relationship between the greatest military superpower [the United States] and what is becoming the greatest economic superpower [the European Union] is of great consequence for the rest of the world,” O’Ciardha said.

Along with the address, Fahey is scheduled for a meeting with Christopher Fox, director of the Keough Institute for Irish studies and University President Father Edward Malloy and lunch with the faculty fellows of the Keough Institute.

On Saturday, Fahey will be attending the tailgate of Thomas and Kathleen O’Donnell and then the football game against Purdue.

“It is indeed fitting that a Roscommon man should represent Ireland on such an historic occasion,” O’Ciardha said, referring to Fahey.

O’Ciardha recalled the visit of Dr. Douglas Hyde of Trench Park, Roscommon, who visited Notre Dame in 1906. Hyde was the founding father of the Gaelic League, the organization which saved Irish from extinction, the author of the first literary history of Ireland and the nation’s first president.

A career diplomat, Fahey served as the Irish ambassador in Germany before becoming the Irish ambassador to the United States in 2002. He got his start by joining the Irish Foreign Service in 1974, completing assignments in New Delhi and Brussels.

According to O’Ciardha, Fahey also played a major part in treaty negotiations for the European Union, including the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam.

O’Ciardha said the consul general and Irish government’s representative in Chicago, Charles Sheehan, will also be present.

The planning for this event began about six months ago after Fox invited the ambassador O’Ciardha said.

“Obviously, a lot of choreography goes into this,” O’Ciardha said, crediting Pam Spence, Notre Dame’s director of special events and protocol, for the event coordination. “You have to organize accommodations for the ambassador, consul general, their guests and drivers. This is a difficult thing to do, especially on a weekend like this, one of the most eagerly-anticipated football games.”

O’Ciardha said the Irish ambassador’s visit was a great honor, but noted “numerous luminaries” have visited Notre Dame recently, including Gerry Adams, Seamus Heaney, Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald and Fahey’s predecessor, former Irish ambassador Sean O’Huiginn.

In addition, there will be a reception to celebrate the opening of the department as well as the publication of two books written by Irish Studies professors.