The Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Chair of Irish Studies is held in the spring semester of each academic year by a distinguished Irish writer. Inaugurated in 2000, it has become one of the most prestigious Irish Studies positions in the United States.

The Heimbold Professor typically teaches two undergraduate seminar courses—one in Creative Writing and one in Irish Literature, allowing Irish Studies students to have the enriching experience of a close classroom experience with Ireland's finest voices—and gives presentation(s) or reading(s) on campus, including as part of the annual Villanova Literary Festival.


Mary O’Donoghue

Mary O’Donoghue is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, editor and translator and the 2023 Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University.

Originally from Co. Clare, Ireland, O’Donoghue now divides her time between Boston, Massachusetts, where she teaches in the Arts and Humanities division at Babson College, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she lives with her husband and stepdaughter. She is the author of the novel Before the House Burns (The Lilliput Press, 2010) and the poetry collections Among These Winters (Dedalus Press, 2007) and Tulle (Salmon Poetry, 2001). Her inspiration to become a writer stemmed from the amity and solidarity books offered: “Books seemed to be in cahoots with the reader and with other books, and I must have wanted to join the camaraderie—though it took me a long time to chime in.”

O’Donoghue’s forthcoming short story collection will be published by Stinging Fly Press in 2023. “I’m fortunate indeed to have the faith of Stinging Fly Press…Stinging Fly Press is devoted to the short story form and does not see it as throat-clearing in a writer’s career. It’s a hugely admirable ethos—an uncommon one—and, I dare to say, a particularly Irish spirit.”

Her fiction has appeared in many notable US and European publications including Subtropics, The Common, Granta, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Irish Times, Sunday Times UK, Stinging Fly, Dublin Review, and elsewhere. O’Donoghue has also been published for her translations in Leabhar na hAthghabhala / Poems of Repossession (Bloodaxe Books/ Clo Iar-Chonnachta, 2016) and Sean O Riordain Selected Poems (Yale University Press, 2014). “Translation has kept me close to the Irish language and maintained my commitment to its literature. This seems important for an Irish writer who has made her career in the US. Further, translation steeps me in the sounds and shapes of poetry, and, in that, it keeps me honest when I return to my own sentences in fiction.”

O'Donoghue's writing awards include two artist's fellowships from Massachusetts Cultural Council (2006 and 2012), Irish Times’ “Legends of the Fall” prize for short fiction in response to Ireland's economic crisis (2013), and residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

At Villanova, O’Donoghue will teach a course focused on modern Irish literature and translation. “Students will encounter the sounds and shapes of 20th century Irish-language literature and study the long historical relationship between two languages—Irish and English—in light of the politics of translation. I intend the class to be immersive: students will join me in the practice of translation.” She will also visit and collaborate with other writing and literature-based courses, including “Authors on and off the Page” in tandem with the Villanova Literary Festival. “In these classes, students can expect to encounter many provocative questions raised by modern and contemporary Irish literature. I want students to be weekly enriched—and ready to take pleasure and perplexity in equally productive measures.”

O’Donoghue is extremely excited to be working and interacting with the Villanova community. “I look forward to living and teaching at Villanova, meeting new colleagues and students, availing myself of the rich calendar of Irish Studies events, and contributing to them as I am able. And I look forward to editing my short story collection while at Villanova and working on my next novel. Given the roster of my Heimbold predecessors, it seems a propitious space! I’m immeasurably grateful for the chance to write and think within your community.”

2022: Emma Dabiri 

2021: Hannah Khalil

2020: Maurice Fitzpatrick

2019: Mike McCormack

2018: Colette Bryce

2017: Owen McCafferty

2016: Glenn Patterson

2015: Claire Kilroy

2014: Eamonn Wall

2013: Mary O'Malley

2012: Hugo Hamilton

2011: Moya Cannon

2010: John McAuliffe

2009: Gerald Dawe

2008: Claire Keegan

2007: Justin Quinn

2006: Sebastian Barry

2005: Michael Coady

2004: Conor O'Callaghan

2004: Vona Groarke

2003: Marina Carr

2002: Eamon Grennan

2001: Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill

2000: Peter Fallon

Acting Director:Jennifer A. Joyce, PhD

Director: Joseph Lennon, PhD (on sabbatical)

Administrative Assistant: Kiersten Ludy