By Irish Echo Staff
Former Irish president Mary McAleese will be heading to Boston College this fall to take up the position of Burns Library Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies, the university has announced
As Burns Scholar, McAleese - now studying for a doctoral degree in canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome - will teach a course and present public lectures during the fall semester while pursuing research in the Burns Library Irish Book and Manuscript Collection, the university said in a release.
"Coming to Boston, using that wonderful Burns Library, talking with students and faculty members from a variety of disciplines, including my beloved Irish Studies will be for me a seminal opportunity to enrich and deepen the insights I can bring to my own research and also hopefully to add a little to the insights of others," said McAleese, who served two terms as Irish president.
McAleese, according to the BC release, first visited Boston College in 1998 to formally open Connolly House - the headquarters for the University's Irish programs - and meet with members and friends of the Irish Institute and the Irish Studies Program.
"She praised BC for its various initiatives to aid the peace process, including a program to assist members of the new Northern Ireland Assembly in preparing for their roles as leaders in government, and the economic development of Ireland and Northern Ireland," said the statement.
"The life of Mary McAleese represents an abundantly appropriate model for Boston College now celebrating its sesquicentennial year," said Center for Irish Programs Executive Director and university professor, Thomas Hachey.
"Our institution's journey, from modest Irish immigrant roots to that of a globally distinguished university," he said, "mirrors Mary's own life in which she persisted from early adversity to the pinnacle position of head of state in her native country. And in that career she has unfailingly projected the Jesuit focus on being 'men and women for others.'"
Established in 1989 with a grant from the Burns Foundation of San Francisco, the Burns Chair is held by a person who has made significant contributions to Irish culture or intellectual life. Past holders have represented the fields of history, literature, bibliography, language and art.
Dedicated in honor of John J. Burns, a 1921 graduate of Boston College who rose from humble origins to become a Harvard Law School professor, Massachusetts Superior Court justice, and the first general counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Honorable John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections opened at Boston College in 1986.
The Irish Collection of Burns Library, the largest and most comprehensive in the United States, includes materials from Nobel laureates William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney. Additional collections include the work of philosopher Thomas Merton; British Catholic authors Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and John Henry Cardinal Newman; Jesuitica including original letters from Jesuit Saints Francis Xavier, Francis Borgia and Robert Bellarmine; and the papers of the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., and Congressman Edward P. Boland, both 1936 graduates of Boston College.