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Villanova University’s Comprehensive Capital Campaign Visits Ireland and England

Delegation met with Irish Dignitaries, Strengthened Partnership with Ireland’s Abbey Theatre

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD recently led a University delegation to Dublin, Ireland and London, England, to celebrate the goals and progress of Villanova’s $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change,”  with alumni, parents and friends. While in Dublin the group met with top Irish officials including Michael Higgins, President of Ireland, Enda Kenny, Prime Minister of Ireland, Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s new Minister for the Diaspora, and Senator Eamonn Coghlan, Villanova University ’76 graduate and Olympic track star.

The Villanova delegation, which included Michael J.  O’Neill, Vice President for Advancement, and Joseph Lennon, Ph.D., Director of Villanova’s Irish Studies Program, also met with Fiach MacConghail, and Oonagh Desire, directors of Ireland’s Abbey Theatre, the national theatre of Ireland. Villanova and the Abbey Theatre are partners in a distinctive theatre exchange program that enables a group of Villanova students to participate in the Abbey Theatre Summer Studio where they study the literature, history, and practice of Irish theatre. At their meeting the group discussed the Summer Studio, Abbey Residency at Villanova, as well as possible future collaborations and shows between the Abbey and Villanova Theatre.       

“The visit to Dublin was a tremendous opportunity for us to meet with Villanovans in Ireland, enhance our partnership with the Abbey Theatre and strengthen the University’s connections with our Irish heritage,” O’Neill said. “We enjoyed highlighting our Campaign with alumni, parents and friends both in Dublin and London.”

Villanova’s collaboration with the Abbey Theatre began in 2011 when the University accepted the Abbey Theatre’s invitation to participate in a historic intellectual/artistic partnership. The alliance is a natural extension of the University’s enduring Irish heritage. Founded by Irish Augustinians in 1842, the University is home to the nation’s oldest Irish Studies Program, an interdisciplinary exploration of the history and culture of the Irish people from the varying perspectives of literature, history, theatre, film, art, politics, music, folklore, and business.

Villanova’s award-winning theatre department is recognized as one of the most prominent and influential in the Philadelphia region with a subscriber base of over 700 patrons and more than 50 nominations for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia’s prized Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. In addition, the University holds a long-standing commitment to performing and studying Irish plays and in hosting prominent Irish playwrights, writers and poets through the Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Chair of Irish Studies.

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 six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies 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. For more, visit