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Villanova University’s Irish Studies Program Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University was founded by Irish Augustinian priests in 1842 and established the nation's oldest existing Irish Studies Program in 1972. The program has grown into one of the largest undergraduate curriculums of its type in the country. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and Villanova’s enduring Irish heritage, the Irish Studies Program will host a series of events throughout the month of March and into April.

“We want to bring our students beyond the shamrock this St. Patrick's season,” said Joseph Lennon, PhD, director of Villanova’s Irish Studies Program. “We are giving special focus to dance this season, in part because the Villanova Irish Dance Team hosted an intercollegiate competition last semester, and we are proud to be previewing a new documentary on Eamonn Wall, our 2014 Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies.”

The festivities will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 13 with the annual Heimbold Chair Lecture featuring noted Irish poet and scholar Eamonn Wall. Wall is the author of six volumes of poetry and two essay collections, in addition to numerous stories and essays. A native of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, Wall is teaching an Honors Poetry Writing Workshop and an Irish-American Fiction seminar at Villanova this semester.  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.

On St. Patrick's Day, Monday, March 17, the community is invited to learn how to kick up its heels -- Irish step dancing style -- at a 'Sean-Nós Dance Workshop.’ Starting at 1:30 p.m., the workshop will teach traditional Irish dance. No experience is necessary.

On March 18 at 7:30 p.m., the Irish film “Kings” will be screened. The film follows a group of young men who left Ireland for England in the 1970s in hopes of finding a better life. The film explores the dark side of the immigrant experience, especially of those who have failed to make good in the Promised Land.  

A new documentary, titled Your Rivers have Trained You, about Heimbold Chair Eamonn Wall, and his hometown of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland will be shown at 4:30 p.m. on March 19. The film will be followed by a discussion about Irish writing in America with Daniel Tobin, a professor of writing, literature, and publishing at Emerson College.

The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will come to a close with the screening of the 2012 Irish film, “What Richard Did” on April 1 at 7:30 p.m. The film is a study of honesty, morality and responsibility in the world of privilege of a young South Dublin man who is the embodiment of the Celtic Tiger generation.

For more information on the Irish Studies Program’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, visit

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.