Irish Studies at Boston College

Boston College has had a long tradition of engagement with Ireland and its culture. The university was founded, in part, to educate the children of Irish Catholic emigrants in Boston. The Irish Studies program at Boston College began in 1978 and is one of the leading international centres for Irish Studies.  Boston College offers academic programs for students in Irish Studies and the Irish Studies program hosts lectures and conferences open to members of the Boston College community and the public. Gaelic Roots hosts Irish music and dance events. The Burns Library has an outstanding collection of Irish books and manuscripts. The Burns scholar program enables the university to welcome leading international figures in Irish Studies to the campus for a semester or a year. The McMullen Museum regularly hosts Irish-related exhibitions. BC Ireland is Boston College’s home in Dublin, Ireland.

James Murphy

Boston College Irish Studies Welcome


Ballybay to Alabama: from anti-slavery ethos to pro-slavery ethic

Ballybay to Alabama: from anti-slavery ethos to pro-slavery ethic

This talk, presented by Professor Nini Rodgers, will examine the fortunes of the Jackson's, a Monaghan family, keen United Irishmen in the 1790s and slave holders once they crossed the Atlantic to the U.S. It is intended to use this family as a prism through which to reflect on the problems of the day. Time scale - 1793-c. 1840.

March 26

4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Joyce and Flann: An Insoluble Pancake

Joyce and Flann: An Insoluble Pancake

A day-long conference at Boston College with speakers Fintan O'Toole of the Irish Times, Catherine Flynn of UC Berkeley, and Joseph Valente, University of Buffalo. This event is free and open to the public, but please register at to let us know you'll attend. RSVP at

Connolly House Saturday, March 30, 2019

9 a.m.          Coffee and Pastries

9:30 a.m.   Welcome: Professor James H. Murphy

9:45 a.m.    Joyce, Flann, and ‘Humor, the Handmaid of Sorrow and Fear’” Professor Catherine Flynn, U.C. Berkeley

10:30 a.m.   Coffee

10:45 a.m.   Panel: My Life With Flann

Christian Dupont          Director, The Burns Library, Boston College
Catherine Flynn            UC Berkeley
Patrick Lonergan          Professor of Theatre, NUI, Galway
Brian O’Donovan          WGBH / A Celtic Sojourn
Thomas O’Grady           Professor of English, U. Mass., Boston
Charles M. Sennott      National Public Radio / The Ground Truth Project
Joseph Valente              Distinguished Professor, University of Buffalo

11:45 a.m.                    Technological Flanneurs                    Alex Benoit
                                       Podcasting Flannites                          Benjamin Bertrand
                                       In Cavan there was a Great Fire      Elizabeth Petretti

12:15 p.m.                         Lunch                      Flann Hilarity with David Gullette

1:30 p.m.    Waking the Word A Collaborative Reading of Finnegans Wake with:
Catherine Flynn
Teddy Lehre
John Lurz
Richard Kearney
Joseph Valente
Rachael Young

2:15 p.m.    A Special Place in Hell: Time, Brexit & The Third Policeman
Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times

3:45 p.m.        Tea and Cakes

4 p.m.           Tour of the Exhibition of Flann O’Brien artefacts and papers
                         Burns Library,  led by Christian Dupont    


Further Hilarity from David Gullette

March 30

9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

"Lord Byron, Thomas Moore and the Cosmopolitan Reach of Irish Literature"

"Lord Byron, Thomas Moore and the Cosmopolitan Reach of Irish Literature"

Distinguished Byron Scholar, Professor Jonathan Gross (DePaul University), explores the relationship between Byron, the leading Romantic poet, and Thomas Moore, the Irish author, in the cosmopolitan world of early nineteenth-century London.

April 04

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

"The Infinite Dark" with Donna Hébert's trio, "The Three Ravens"

"The Infinite Dark" with Donna Hébert's trio, "The Three Ravens"

Led by world-renowned poet and author Jane Yolen, the case of The Infinite Dark weaves poetry and music into a performance shot with bright threads from Scots, Irish, and European folklore.

April 04

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Rethinking the Archive: research and teaching in literature and the performing arts

Rethinking the Archive: research and teaching in literature and the performing arts

A one-day conference at Connolly House, Boston College, Saturday, 6 April, 2019, 9 am to 6 pm.

Archival research has always been central to scholarship in literature and the performing arts. In recent decades, the practice of archiving has itself become a subject of investigation, from the theoretical work of Derrida and Foucault to the new methodological approaches of Diana Taylor and Joseph Roach. More recently the impact of digital humanities and the availability of social media have raised new opportunities and challenges.

This conference aims to consider the impact of these developments on teaching and research. We will host a series of roundtable discussions involving scholars, both faculty and graduate students, who are using archival material in new ways in their research. We will also consider how archival material can stimulate new approaches to teaching, not just in literary criticism but also in creative writing and related fields. Our aim will be to provide participants with an understanding of the archive and our place in it. We will also highlight practical ideas for teaching and research.

April 06

9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Irish Novelist and BC Alumnus Kevin McCarthy to Read

Irish Novelist and BC Alumnus Kevin McCarthy to Read

Irish novelist and Boston College alumnus Kevin McCarthy reads from his latest novel, Wolves of Eden, historical fiction about Irish immigrants serving in the U. S. army in 1866 in the Dakota territory. Wolves of Eden was named as one of Amazon's 20 Best Books of 2018. McCarthy's first novel, Peeler, was selected by the Irish Times as one of its Top Ten Thrillers of 2010 and as a Read of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer. His second novel, Irregulars, was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the year in 2013. 

April 09

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Shakespeare and the Modern Irish Theatre – Staging Anglo-Irish relations from 1916 to Brexit

Shakespeare and the Modern Irish Theatre – Staging Anglo-Irish relations from 1916 to Brexit

A lecture by Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway and Spring 2019 Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies at Boston College.


Since 2016, relations between Ireland and England have come under growing strain, with debates about Brexit placing renewed focus on each country’s attitude to national sovereignty. That debate has coincided with a significant increase in Irish productions of Shakespeare, many of which comment both directly and indirectly on contemporary political controversies. Far from being a new development, the exploration of Anglo-Irish relations through Shakespeare has been underway since at least 1916. This lecture tracks that history, showing its impact on great Irish writers from Joyce to Heaney – and on great actors like Orson Welles, Fiona Shaw, and many others.


Following the lecture, all are invited to enjoy a beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres reception in Burns Library from 6:00pm-7:00pm. We also encourage to attendees to hear Alvin Jackson speak at 7:00pm on "The Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2017: Bloodshed, Borders, and Brexit," a lecture in the Lowell Humanities Series, which will be held in Gasson Hall, Room 100. Jackson is Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh.


For general directions and parking information, please refer to the University's Admissions site. We recommend parking in the Commonwealth Garage.

April 10

4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Alvin Jackson: The survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2017:  bloodshed, borders and Brexit

Alvin Jackson: The survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2017: bloodshed, borders and Brexit

Alvin Jackson is Richard Lodge Professor of History at The University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on modern Irish, Scottish, and British history and has been supported by three major national awards – a British Academy Research Readership in the Humanities (2000), a British Academy-Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship (2009) and a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2014). His interest in the Union and Irish Unionism have made him a leading scholar on Brexit. He has published many articles and six books, including The Two Unions: Ireland, Scotland, and the Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2007 (2011, which was shortlisted in Scotland for the Saltire Society’s Scottish History Book of the Year (2012) and for the Ewart-Biggs Irish Literary Prize (2013). In 2014, he was elected as an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and in 2015 as Member of the Academia Europaea. He was the John J. Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies at Boston College in 1996-1997.

Presented by the Lowell Humanities Series with the Irish Studies Program and by the Gerson Family Lecture Fund, established by John A. and Jean N. Gerson, P’14.

April 10

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Partitioning Ireland

Partitioning Ireland

Partitioning Ireland

A one day conference (In memory of Professor Alan O’Day [1940-2017])

Connolly House, Boston College. Saturday, 27 April 2019, 9 am – 5:30 pm.

2019 marks the centenary of the Long Committee's report to the UK Parliament recommending the partition of Ireland. This conference will explore the history and legacies of that decision.

Speakers and papers

I. Global Context of Ireland’s Partition

Jason Knirck (Central Washington University), ‘Confederates, Boers, or Silesians? Irish Attempts to find Analogies for Partition in World History’.

Erik Goldstein (Boston University), ‘Partition and Peacemaking after the Great War’.

Shannon Monaghan (Harvard University), ‘Partition as Population Engineering: The Irish Boundary Commission in Comparative Context.

II. Parties Divided over Partition

Timothy McMahon (Marquette University), “It Does Not Matter What the Authors Meant”: Covenanters in Conflict, 1916-1920.

Neil Fleming (University of Worcester), ‘The Conservative Right and the Partition of Ireland’

Robert McNamara (Ulster University), ‘Frank MacDermot, de Valera and the Partition Question in Independent Ireland’ 

III. Nationalism and Partition

Peter McLoughlin (Queen’s University Belfast), ‘Redefining Partition: The Evolution of Nationalist Thinking on the Nature of a Divided Ireland.’

Bridget Keown (Northwestern University), ‘Medical Knowledge, Medical Institutions and Nation Building.’

Sean McGraw (University of Notre Dame), ‘Ireland’s Partition: Founding Moments Generate Space for Political Entrepreneurs.’

April 27

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

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