Villanova Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Founding of Irish Studies at the University

The Center will commemorate the anniversary with a slate of events open to the public


Center for Irish Studies at Villanova University celebrates 40 years.

VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova’s Center for Irish Studies will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Irish Studies at the University with a slate of events throughout the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters. Villanova’s Irish Studies Program was founded in 1979 to advance scholarship on Irish history and contemporary issues. The Center serves as a leader in the field by creating an interdisciplinary, liberal-arts focused model of study centered on the undergraduate experience.

The University’s connection with Irish history began at its own founding by Irish Augustinians in 1842 as a school for Irish immigrants. Villanova’s Irish connections persevered during anti-immigrant riots in the 1840s and Irish refugees entering the United States during and after the Irish Famine. The Center plays a variety of roles at Villanova and beyond, providing academic programming, scholarship and career opportunities for students, and community resources.

“Irish Studies is at the center of Villanova’s heritage and helps guide its vision of its future,” said Joseph Lennon, Emily C. Riley Director of the Center for Irish Studies. “For 40 years, we have explored creative expression, minority rights, and enduring diasporic connections with our students and community. We now reach across eight distinct disciplines in our scholarship, programming and outreach.”


Today, Villanova students in all degree programs may pursue a Minor in Irish Studies through the Center, and beginning in 2018, the Center began offering a Major in Irish Studies as well. Each year, 250-300 students take courses in eight disciplines through the Center, all taught in partnership with a variety of faculty across the University.

The Center is home to the Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Chair of Irish Studies, a teaching position held each academic year by a visiting distinguished Irish writer; the 2020 Heimbold Chair will be esteemed documentary filmmaker, Maurice Fitzpatrick, who has taught in Japan, Germany, and Ireland.

The Center also includes a robust set of study abroad programs, enabling approximately 100 students each year to study in Galway, Dublin, Belfast, and Ballina Ireland, including an eight-week summer program in Dublin for rising sophomores with courses in Irish studies and an accompanying internship.


The Center serves as an invaluable resource for students seeking scholarship and career opportunities through its vast network—forged through key partnerships with organizations including Philadelphia area Irish-American groups, the Consul General of Ireland, the Irish American Business Chamber and Network, the Abbey Theatre and Princess Grace Irish Library. The Center’s network extends overseas, providing students with ample support and opportunity throughout their study abroad experience.


Community partnerships from the local to international level further the Center’s reach and recognition. The Center regularly provides programming for the Philadelphia area’s Irish-American community and for those interested in learning more about Irish history and culture. The Center has also launched an initiative for digitizing documents in an open source platform.


The Center for Irish Studies invites the Villanova community and public to celebrate 40 years of Irish Studies at Villanova University with the following events:

A Reading with Emilie Pine
Join Irish author Emilie Pine for a reading from her best-selling collection of essays, Notes to Self.

  • Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 4 p.m.
  • Location: St. Rita’s Hall Community Room, Villanova University

Readings by Belfast Writers
An evening with Belfast writers including Glen Patterson, presented by The Seamus Heaney Centre.

  • Date: Tuesday, October 29 at 6 p.m.
  • Location: Garey Hall, Room 10A, Villanova University

The Auld Triangle: Law, Prisons & Punishment in Ireland
Villanova University Associate Professor of Sociology & Criminology Jill McCorkel, PhD, traveled to Ireland for her research on the Irish criminal justice system. Join Dr. McCorkel for a discussion on her experiences and findings.

  • Date: Thursday, November 14 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Location: East Dougherty Hall lounge, Villanova University

Kelly House Symposium
Join authors Jim Murphy, Jim Rogers, Christine Cusick and David Lloyd for a 40th anniversary celebration of memoirs, Irish-American roundtable and readings at The Kelly House, childhood home of Irish-American actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly.

  • Date: Friday, December 6
  • Location: The Kelly House, 3901 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa., 19129
  • Details: Registration Required:

Symposium on The Referent of Ireland in the Nineteenth-Century

This symposium will feature presentations by experts in nineteenth-century literature on the topic of referentiality, that is how literature refers to the world beyond the text. The symposium hopes to re-evaluate the importance of nineteenth-century Irish literature in order to rethink the aesthetics and politics of nineteenth-century Irish literature.

  • Date: Friday February 21, 2020, Time TBA
  • Location: Garey Hall, Room 10A, Villanova University (public reception to follow in Garey Hall 31)
  • Details: Reception open to the public:

Heimbold Reading

Irish filmmaker, Maurice Fitzpatrick will provide a discussion about making his award-winning documentaries on figures such as John Hume, Brian Friel, and Seamus Heaney.

  • Date: Friday, March 6, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Location: Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center

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. employment opportunities.

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 M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit