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BC's Seamus Connolly Named NEA National Heritage Fellow

06/05/13

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: June 5, 2013

Sullivan Artist-in-Residence Seamus Connolly, director of Boston College’s Irish music programs, has been selected as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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The nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, the NEA National Heritage Fellowships recognize folk and traditional artists for their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America's culture for future generations. The fellowships include an award of $25,000.

“It is a great honor to be given such a prestigious award,” said Connolly, who last month received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given to outstanding American citizens who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to the United States. “I am happy to be associated with all the fine artists who have received National Heritage Fellowships this year and in the past, including great Irish music performers like Joe Derrane, Michael Flatley and Joe Heaney. For me, it’s as much a recognition for all those people who’ve helped me along the way and believed in me, and from whom I have learned so much.

“I also hope this honor will bring yet more visibility to Boston College and the University’s Center for Irish Studies, since they been such an important part of my life, and that it will enhance our programs.”

A Boston College faculty member since 1990, Connolly — who immigrated to the US from Ireland in 1976 — has cultivated a decades-long list of accomplishments that include a record 10 All-Ireland fiddle championships, selection by Irish America magazine as one of the top 100 Irish Americans, “Traditional Musician of the Year” honors from the Irish Echo, and induction into the worldwide Irish cultural organization Comhaltas Ceoltoírí Éireann’s Hall of Fame. He founded and directed BC's highly acclaimed Gaelic Roots Summer School and Festival and now coordinates a Gaelic Roots series of free concerts and lectures by visiting artists throughout the academic year.

Profiles of Connolly and this year’s other National Heritage Fellowship winners are available at http://1.usa.gov/10NZ3MI.