O'Neill Cited for Promoting Irish Culture

O'Neill Cited for Promoting Irish Culture

It's been a landmark year for Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill.

He has been honored for his contributions to the promotion of Irish culture by the Eire Society of Boston, which will award him its 2003 Gold Medal, and Irish America magazine, which will name him one of the nation's Top 100 Irish Americans for 2003 in its April/May issue.

These tributes come on the heels of the publication of his latest book A Visitors' Guide to Irish Libraries, Archives, Museums and Genealogical Centres, and coincide with his hosting of the North American premiere of the acclaimed exhibition of propaganda material from the Northern Ireland conflict, "Troubled Images," which began its world tour at Burns Library this month.

The Eire Society Gold Medal is awarded annually to a person who is judged to have, among other qualifications, significantly fulfilled the society's ideals of promoting knowledge of Irish culture through the encouragement of study in the arts, sciences, literature, language and history of Ireland.

Previous recipients include President John F. Kennedy, filmmakers John Ford and John Huston, long time US Ambassador to Ireland William V. Shannon and former Speaker of the US House of Representatives John W. McCormack.

A past president of the society, O'Neill was chosen in recognition of "his efforts in spreading awareness of the cultural achievements of the Irish people, be it in collecting, preserving and publicizing Ireland's patrimony, or teaching students at Boston College."

O'Neill, who has been director of Burns Library and curator of its celebrated Irish Collection for 15 years, also teaches a course on Irish political history in the Political Science Department.

The Eire Society award will be presented at the society's annual Gold Medal Award Ceremony at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel in April.

Similarly, each year, Irish America - a national magazine of Irish politics, business, sport, international news, interviews and articles - salutes outstanding figures in politics, the arts, business, service and other fields for their contributions to the Irish community as a whole.

Irish Music Programs Director Seamus Connolly, founder of BC's acclaimed Gaelic Roots Music, Song and Dance Summer School and Festival, was honored in 1999 by the magazine, which previously had made a special exception in 1996 to cite the late Prof. Adele Dalsimer (English), co-founder of BC's Irish Studies Program although she was not of Irish heritage.

-Patricia Delaney


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