Dalsimer, who is Jewish and of Russian-Polish-Austrian descent, was honored as part of the publication's annual salute to Americans in politics, the arts, business, service and other fields for their contributions to the Irish community as a whole. She and the other honorees, including President Clinton - named as the 1996 Irish American of the Year - Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and actors Susan Sarandon, Liam Neeson and George Clooney, were feted at a gala at New York City's Plaza Hotel on Monday.
"I am absolutely delighted that my work, and that of my colleagues in Irish Studies, as well as the support from Boston College, has been recognized in this way," said Dalsimer, the only person without Irish ancestors to be honored this year by Irish America . "This, to my mind, was a collective award for us all.
"I have found many common threads between my own heritage and that of Ireland," she continued, "such as a love of language and conversation, an awareness of human suffering and the celebration of family life. I have always felt right at home in exploring Irish history, art and culture."
Described by an Irish America representative as "a powerhouse in Irish culture," Dalsimer is a well-respected researcher and teacher of Irish literature. As Irish Studies co-director, she has been instrumental in helping organize two major showings of Irish artwork at the Boston College Museum of Art, including the current "America's Eye: Irish Paintings from the Collection of Brian P. Burns," and was editor and contributor for a book that served as a companion piece to one of the exhibitions.
Irish Studies Co-director Adele Dalsimer. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)A recent Irish America article on Boston College praised Dalsimer and Irish Studies co-director Assoc. Prof. Kevin O'Neill (History), and said the program was "one of the first and today one of the leading Irish studies programs in the nation.
"The enthusiasm for Irish studies at Boston College," the article said, "is due in large part to the two dynamic professors who have guided the program since its inception ... [The] program has become increasingly popular and dynamic, and represents a serious commitment on the part of the Boston College leadership to the academic exploration of Irish culture and society."
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