Irish Center Celebrates 10 Years
The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies has much to celebrate at its Tenth Anniversary Open House. During an all-day event from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 23, the Center, located at 4206 Yoakum Blvd., is open to the public to take a tour and celebrate its 10th year as a Center for Excellence at the University of St. Thomas.
Among the top 10 exemplary Irish Studies programs in North America, the Center offers a wide range of cultural events to the campus community and the community-at-large as well as academic courses in Irish Studies, both on campus and in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Center serves as a focal point for the study of Irish history, literature, politics, law, language, music, art, drama, culture and society.
Senior Erin Medve is pursuing an Irish Studies minor and has taken three courses in Irish language. She said she desires to gain a more thorough knowledge of Irish culture, history and literature. She said she also is enrolled in Intermediate Irish II because the Irish language is beautiful, and its development has a very powerful history of its own.
“The Center has helped me grow in appreciation of Ireland and my Irish heritage,” Medve said. “I am proud to be a part of the program. We also have a terrific Irish Club for students that hosts frequent events, such as storytelling, céilí dancing and films. The Center's monthly cultural outreach events provide all of us with insight into literary, historical and cultural aspects of Ireland."
Janna Tierney, a freshman in Irish Studies, said she is interested in Irish Studies because her mother is a dual Irish/American citizen. Tierney also has published a children’s book on Ireland.
“I would like to improve my knowledge of the Irish language to help me with similar books in the future,” Tierney said. “I have benefited from the Center's Irish cultural events and concerts. I hope to support the Center by volunteering and through my continuing interest in Irish Studies courses.”
Lori Meghan Gallagher, J.D., has been the director of the Center since its creation in January 2003. She teaches Irish history and politics courses and oversees Irish Studies academic, cultural outreach and study abroad programs.
"It is amazing to look back over the last 10 years during which we literally built our Center from the ground up," Gallagher said. "We are very proud of the tremendous faculty, staff, student and community contributions to the academic, cultural outreach and study abroad programs that serve as the foundation of our Center. We would like to thank everyone for a wonderful 10 years. Please come and celebrate our 10th anniversary and welcome in the new year."
With the mission to promote peace and reconciliation and preserve Irish heritage and culture, the Center has received many accolades and awards from various Irish and Irish American magazines, newspapers and organizations throughout the years.
St. Thomas is one of a few universities west of the Mississippi with a minor and graduate concentration in Irish Studies and a Center for Irish Studies.
Irish Studies actively supports UST study abroad in Ireland during the academic year at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. Scholarships have been awarded on an equal-opportunity basis to more than 60 students ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 per student based upon scholarship, merit and financial need. The Center has raised more than $352,000 through January 2013 to benefit the academic program and scholarship fund for UST students to study abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland during summer and academic year programs.
Additionally, the Center sponsors a Study USA/Business Education Initiative Program Scholarship for Students from Northern Ireland. UST has participated for eight years and the Center has awarded more than $160,000 in full tuition scholarships for students to attend UST. These students take eight courses of business and two elective courses during a full year.
Dr. Joseph McFadden, former UST president and professor emeritus, founded the Center in 2002 and UST opened the Center in 2003. In 2010, St. Thomas named the Center after William J. Flynn, a major contributor to peace in Northern Ireland, chairman emeritus of Mutual of America Life Insurance Company in New York and chairman of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.
For more information about the open house event to celebrate the anniversary, contact the Center at email@example.com or 713-525-3592.