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Center for Irish Studies Hosts Spring 2022 Event Series

VILLANOVA, Pa. – This spring, Villanova University’s Center for Irish Studies is offering a diverse array of events that showcase Ireland’s unique culture, history, and legacy. The series commences on February 16, 2022, with a lecture by Michael Mullan, PhD, professor emeritus of Sociology at Swarthmore College, on his new book, The Philadelphia Irish: Nation, Culture, and the Rise of a Gaelic Public Sphere (Rutgers University Press, 2021). The event will take place in St. Rita's Community Room at 4 p.m.

Mullan, a long-time Philadelphia-area native, will talk with students and community members about the history of the Irish in Philadelphia and its environs. Using philosopher and sociologist Jurgen Habermas’s concept of a public sphere, Mullan’s study reveals how the Irish constructed a plebian “counter” public of Gaelic meaning through various mechanisms of communication, the ethnic press, the meeting rooms of Irish societies, the consumption of circulating pamphlets, oratory, songs, ballads, poems, and conversation.

All events are free and open to the public. Community members, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask indoors in publicly accessed spaces, unless actively eating or drinking.

See below for additional events. 


Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Traditional Music Session 

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022

Dougherty Hall, East Lounge, 6 p.m.

Join the Center for Irish Studies' Irish language instructor, James O'Connell, for an evening of live Irish traditional music by the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley musical group, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Come join the craic!


Irish Chalice + Laurie Wohl Tapestry Exhibit

Wednesday, Mar. 9 – Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2022

Opening - Villanova Art Gallery, Connelly Center, Mar. 9, 2022, 6 p.m.

An Irish entrepreneur will loan a newly discovered 15th-century silver Irish chalice to Villanova's Art Gallery. The exhibit, aptly called "A Thirst for the Divine," will be paired with an exhibit of a contemporary fiber and cloth artist of Laurie Wohl.

The Irish Independent newspaper reported on the chalice's find in England: The historical piece had been stored by the owners in a cardboard box in a garden outbuilding for years as they had no idea how rare and important it was. We are proud to be the first university or museum to exhibit the chalice. Also in the exhibit is Laurie Wohl's "Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory," described as "stunningly beautiful unweavings,” which intermingle Christian, Jewish and Muslim spiritual writings from the Convivencia in Spain (8th-15th centuries) with contemporary Middle Eastern poetry. 

This incredible double exhibit will be opened with talks by Villanova faculty with expertise in medieval art and history. 


Emma Dabiri, Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Chair of Irish Studies, Reading 

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022

Presidents' Lounge, Connelly Center, Reception – 6 p.m., Reading – 7 p.m.

This year's Chair, Emma Dabiri, brings an invaluable voice and analysis of Irish culture and history to her readers. Her first book, Twisted, offers an analysis of African hair traditions, wound into a memoir about growing up in Dublin. This as well as a richly detailed and scholarly history is written in literary prose with a fresh voice. Her second book, provocatively titled, What White People Can Do Next is both practical text and personal story. Like Twisted, the prose is alternately wry and moving, cutting and encouraging. Anything but complacent, her writing asks us to challenge long-held assumptions about race. Join us to warmly welcome Emma to Villanova's campus!


Conversation with Heimbold Chair, Emma Dabiri

Monday, Apr. 4, 2022

Falvey Library, Speaker's Corner, 6 p.m.

The Irish Studies Heimbold Chair, Emma Dabiri, will talk with Kim DaCosta, PhD, about the newly formed African-American Irish Diaspora Network of which DaCosta is a board member. DaCosta is the author of Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line and teaches sociology at New York University. Jennifer Joyce, PhD, associate director, Center for Irish Studies, will moderate the discussion.


"The Politics of the Irish Harp Symbol from Henry VIII to Brexit" Lecture with Mary Louise O'Donnell

Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2022

Falvey Library, Speaker's Corner, 4 p.m.

Mary Louise O'Donnell, PhD, is a harpist, musicologist and former Fulbright scholar. Her first book Ireland's Harp: The Shaping of Irish Identity c. 1770 to 1880 was published by UCD Press in 2014 and she has also published widely on topics relating to Irish cultural history, semiotics, and performance studies. Mary Louise and her sister Teresa recently completed the recording of an album which includes compositions for pedal harp, portable Irish harp, and voice to harp accompaniment by the nineteenth-century Irish composer Charles Egan.


About the Center for Irish Studies: The Center for Irish Studies at Villanova University has been a leader for four decades in interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship on Ireland in a global framework. The Center connects students to local community organizations while also preparing them to become citizens equipped to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. Through liberal arts-focused academics, multi-disciplinary scholarship and key partnerships, the Center provides students with research, study abroad and employment opportunities.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.