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Keough Institute draws Gaelic scholars

Tricia de Groot | Thursday, April 14, 2005

For the first time in its history, Notre Dame is hosting the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) Annual General Meeting, traditionally the largest single gathering of Irish studies scholars in the world.

“We are delighted, and it is appropriate that we are hosting this significant conference because the University of Notre Dame has, throughout its history, been a home for Irish-American people,” Assistant Director of News and Information Mike Garvey said.

Susan Harris, one of this year’s co-organizers, said ACIS president John Harrington ran into co-organizer Sarah McKibben at a conference. The two began discussing the possibility of hosting the 2005 conference at Notre Dame. McKibben began speaking with professor Christopher Fox, director of the Keough Institute, and a plan to host the event was developed.

Harris said she, McKibben and Fox planned the conference for over a year. Numerous other faculty, staff, departments, offices and institutes all over campus contributed financial support for the conference, making it a truly University-wide effort.

“We are particularly excited about this conference because it will give us a chance to host so many other Irish studies scholars and introduce them to the program and to the resources available at Notre Dame,” Harris said.

There are at least 370 participants registered for the conference, and up to 300 will be participating in 100 panels on all aspects of Irish studies, including history, politics, literature, art, architecture and film and television.

“With over 12 plenary speakers and 100 panels on all aspects of Irish studies, there is something for every academic taste,”assistant professional specialist and program coordinator for Irish Studies Éamonn Ó Ciardha said.

There is also a series of events running concurrently with the panels, including concerts, exhibitions, poetry readings and a festival. The schedule includes papers – some of which will be presented by Notre Dame faculty and graduate students – on subjects as varied as “Paddy Punk,” Irish sport, James Joyce, Irish dance, the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, gay Irish fiction, recent film and theater, women’s writing, scandal in Irish culture and Irish America.

Most of the programming for the ACIS will take place in McKenna Hall. Several events are open to the public, and McKibben said coordinators hope undergraduates and alumni attend.

“These sorts of conferences often happen at a distance from undergraduates or over break,” she said. “Instead, we want our students to get the chance to enjoy and learn from all the events, from lecture to panels to films to photographs to music that we’ve all brought to campus.”