Sept. 22, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 2

Center for Irish Programs Executive Director Thomas Hachey: "Where the center has perhaps made the biggest impact is in encouraging communication, and collaboration where possible, between all the talented individuals who are part of BC's Irish programs."

Onto the Next Five Years

Center for Irish Programs marks fifth anniversary with a look to future

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

In the five years since its creation, the Boston College Center for Irish Programs (CIP) has accomplished an unlikely goal: taking one of the University's marks of distinction and actually making it better.

Formally unveiled in the summer of 2000, the center has thrived as the organizational umbrella for BC's Ireland-related initiatives and resources: the Irish Studies Program, renowned for its interdisciplinary approach to the study of Irish culture and society; the Irish Institute, offering corporate, professional and educational exchange programs with an eye to promoting peace throughout Ireland; and the John J. Burns Library's esteemed Irish Collection of famous authors, artists and other personalities.

The more recent of CIP's trove of programs is no less promising than its predecessors: BC-Ireland, which encompasses a growing range of activities and services housed at, and coordinated through, the Dublin-based Boston College Centre for Irish Programmes.

With five years now under its belt, the center is embarking on a strategic plan for the next five years, which CIP Executive Director Thomas Hachey believes will be a prime opportunity to affirm BC's reputation as a leading exponent of Irish culture, tradition and history.

"On the one hand, the programs have largely continued as they always have, and are as strong as ever," said Hachey, former dean of the Marquette University College of Arts and Sciences. "Where the center has perhaps made the biggest impact is in encouraging communication, and collaboration where possible, between all the talented individuals who are part of BC's Irish programs.

"BC's heritage, from the very beginning, has Irish roots, It's important, therefore, to honor this legacy by finding creative and innovative ways to express it through the University's academic, research and student-formation activities. We have the people to do just that."

During the next five years, Hachey says, the center will seek to add faculty to the Irish Studies Program - especially in important fields like early modern Irish literature, political science, folklore and anthropology - promote research, strengthen the Irish Studies minor and increase Irish study-broad opportunities. The center also plans a higher profile for Irish Studies-sponsored music programs and events.

Objectives for the Irish Institute include adding more professional and student staff, involving participants more in the University's academic life and encouraging institute alumni to be resources for the BC community. In addition, the institute will continue to increase its non-federal income through adding programs and partners. (See related item here)

Burns Library, meanwhile, will continue to pursue and acquire noteworthy historical, literary, artistic and other additions to its highly acclaimed Irish Collection. While these acquisitions are often a matter of the right opportunity at the right time, Hachey says, some are currently being negotiated and others - such as manuscripts by former Burns Library Visiting scholars Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Gerry Dawe - have been confirmed.

BC-Ireland, says Hachey, has already proven to be far more than an "Irish annex" of BC, says Hachey. With the appointment of Michael Cronin as academic director and Programs Assistant Thea Gilman, the Dublin center has become an important locus of activity for faculty and students as well as other visitors and guests of BC. The five-year plan for BC-Ireland includes additional facilities and resources - such as a library and Internet and computer technology - for the building, as well as a lecture series featuring prominent scholars and public figures beginning this October, and academic and internship opportunities for BC students on junior year abroad programs in Ireland.

"BC-Ireland represents a very exciting venture for the Center for Irish Programs, and for the University," said Executive Vice President Patrick Keating. "The Dublin center will complement, and enhance, BC's academic, alumni and professional resources while solidifying our ties to Ireland, which go back to the University's very beginnings. BC-Ireland is another hallmark for the Center for Irish Programs, and for Tom Hachey's leadership."

Hachey notes that the five-year plan details numerous collaborations among BC's Irish programs. For example, BC-Ireland and Irish Studies will develop a summer school program for undergraduates from BC and other American universities, while Burns Library will arrange for collections and exhibitions to be displayed at the Dublin center.

"There will be, we hope, many other opportunities for BC's Irish programs to put their special talents to use collectively," said Hachey.

Hachey, who is also a University professor of history, is quick to praise University President William P. Leahy, SJ, for the creation of the CIP. "This was all part of Fr. Leahy's vision, because he saw the elements were in place," said Hachey. "BC's Irish Studies Program, the Irish Institute, the Burns Library Irish Collections - these have all been recognized far and wide as among the pre-eminent representations of Ireland's past, present and future.

"What the center has done, with Fr. Leahy's blessing and support, is provide an overall, defining structure for these facets of BC's Irish programs and resources to function as a complementary unit. And just as importantly, they are seen as complementary to one another, and to Boston College as a whole."

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