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By Karen Herland
On the heels of St. Patrick’s Day, it would appear the Senate decision to approve the creation of the School of Canadian Irish Studies was due not so much to the luck of the Irish as it was to their hard work.
Michael Kenneally, Chair in Canadian Irish Studies and Director of the Centre for Irish Studies, was honoured by the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal last month for his contribution to Irish education in Canada. Kenneally has been involved in promoting Canadian Irish studies (which examines the Canadian experience of Irish immigrants and the impact of the Irish community on Canada, especially Quebec) for many years.
Kenneally, presented the successful proposal at the March 20 Senate meeting with Ronald Rudin (History), who himself has been teaching Irish history for 20 years.
“There is nothing else like this school in Canada,” says Rudin about the decision. “We are now comparable to Boston University and Notre Dame.”
Having the centre reclassified as a school (such as the Liberal Arts College) allows the centre to continue to manage the growing number of students enrolled in its courses (16 this year offered through eight departments) while earning a seat at chairs’ meetings and Faculty Council which will make it easier to advance the interests of Irish Studies.
The St. Patrick’s Society funded four courses at Concordia in 1991. A few years later, that partnership developed into the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation which raised funds to support the Centre’s activities including managing courses, bringing in guest speakers (over 140 since 1991) and supporting visiting professors.
Funding from various levels of government in Canada, Ireland and the U.K. has continued to support the work of the Centre, including an announcement last year of the creation of the Johnson Chair in Canadian Irish Studies thanks to contributions from the Quebec government and the Concordia University Foundation.
Once the School is created, it will have three faculty members: the two Chairs, as well as the holder of a position in Irish history.
There are plans to move the school from the centre’s current location in the Bronfman Building to a more central one on the Sir George campus.