Irish Studies Co-Founder Dalsimer Dies

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

    Prof. Adele Dalsimer (English), who co-founded and co-directed Boston Collegeís internationally renowned Irish Studies Program, died Feb. 13 after a long struggle with multiple myeloma. She was 60.

    Funeral services were held for Dalsimer Tuesday at Temple Israel in Boston. A memorial event on campus is being planned for later this semester.

    "Itís a terrible loss to Irish Studies, to Boston College, and to all of us, individually and communally," said Dalsimerís long-time colleague and program co-director Assoc. Prof. Kevin OíNeill (History). "Itís hard to conceptualize Irish Studies without Adele. Fortunately, she blazed such a path for people who love Irish arts and culture to follow that, somehow or another, it will go on."

    In 1978, Dalsimer and OíNeill created the Irish Studies Program, believing that Irish culture, history and literature should be taught, and viewed, as an integral academic discipline. The ground-breaking program provided opportunities for both undergraduates and graduate students to study in Ireland, thanks to Irish Studiesí collaborations with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and at universities in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Belfast, among others.

    The introduction of Irish Studies also paved the way for numerous lectures, programs, performances and other special events on campus, featuring some of Irelandís most notable personalities. Nobel laureates John Hume, Seamus Heaney and Sean McBride, former prime minister Garret FitzGerald and musician Phil Coulter were among those who visited the University under the auspices of Irish Studies.

    "Anybody who knew Adele was caught up in her infectious enthusiasm and optimism, especially for Irish Studies," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John J. Neuhauser. "She believed very strongly in Irish Studies, and channeled that belief into her work. We will not see her like again soon."

Adele Dalsimer

    Dalsimer received several honors for her work in the field of Irish studies, including honorary degrees from the University of Ulster and the National University of Ireland. One of her most deeply-felt tributes was her recognition as an honorary Irish-American by Irish America magazine in its "Top 100 Irish Americans" issue of 1996.

    "I have found many common threads between my own heritage and that of Ireland, such as a love of language and conversation, an awareness of human suffering and the celebration of family life," Dalsimer, a Jew of Russian-Polish-Austrian descent, said of the Irish America honor. "I have always felt right at home in exploring Irish history, art and culture."

    Dalsimerís books included The Unappeasable Shadow: Shelleyís Influence on Yeats (1988) and Kate OíBrien: A Critical Study (1990). In the past decade, Dalsimer also began to focus on Irish visual arts, contributing to exhibitions at the McMullen Museum of Art and editing several volumes dedicated to the interdisciplinary analysis of art.

    A 1960 graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, Dalsimer earned a masterís degree from Hunter College and a doctoral degree in English literature from Yale University. She served as a part-time instructor in English and Humanities at Boston University from 1964-66 before arriving at BC in 1969 as an instructor in the English Department.

    She is survived by her husband, James; her son, Joshua; her daughter, Jennifer Archer; her parents, Ida and Buddy Mintz; her brother, Sandy; and two grandchildren.

Return to Feb. 17 menu

Return to Chronicle home page