Irish speaker addresses University

Matt Kelly

Currently Kelleher is the Burns Scholar at Boston College, a position designed to work with the resources of the Irish studies collection there. The college commissioned her, along with professor Phillip O’Leary, to work on a two-volume history of Irish literature. “What we’re aiming to do in this two volume history is to provide for the first time a history of Irish literature written in both languages,” she said. The project will involve over 30 contributors from Ireland and North America.

While researching at Boston College, Kelleher is also teaching a graduate course on the 19th century Irish novel. In the spring she will teach a course called “History and Memory in Modern Irish Literature.” This course relates to the themes of her doctrinal work. Her dissertation was on famine and literature. “In that sense I have always been interested in where literature intersects with history,” she said. Kelleher hopes to inspire students to see Irish studies as an interesting area of research. “It is a very exciting time in Irish studies with a new perspective emerging in various ways and lots of work to be done on recovering and retrieving literature from the past,” she said.

As part of her being in the United States for a year, Lucy McDiarmid, a professor in the Department of English, invited her to speak at the University on Thursday. “I am a huge admirer of Professor McDiarmid’s work. “She has been a pioneering scholar herself in the field of Irish studies,” said Kelleher.

Dr. Kelleher’s speech focused on Irish women’s literary history. Just last week in Dublin, a two- volume anthology titled “The Filed Anthology Volume IV and V” was published. These books are the first historic collection devoted to women’s writings.

Dr. Kelleher’s work grew out of the controversy in Ireland that started in the early ’90s when the first three volumes of the Anthology were published. After reading the volumes, critics discovered that the collaborators had a very poor representation of women’s writings. “As a result of that controversy, the decision was made to commission the fourth volume, which in turn has become two volumes of this historic collection of women’s writing,” she said. Dr. Kelleher is one of the many books’ contributors.

Dr. Keheller got her degree in English and History and was given a scholarship to come to Boston Collge to study for two years to get her Masters. Kelleher stayed for five years, earning her doctoral degree from the college in the ’80s. “It was so important for me as a scholar to spend time studying in the States and to do my post-graduate work in the states. I think the U.S. has been more open to interdisciplinary work. Traditionally, Irish universities have been more territorial and have been more separate in the way the disciplines operated as where I think the U.S. has been more welcoming of interdisciplinary projects,” she said.

Originally from Cork, her permanent home is in Dublin, where she teaches at The National University of Ireland at Manooth. The historic university was founded over 200 years ago as a Catholic seminary. It was only in the 1960s that the institution opened its doors to lay students and in the ’70s to women. Dr. Kelleher has been teaching there since 1996 and will return after this year.

“While I love the chance to spend time in the states – the facilities here, the openness to new approaches – I think when a person is a teacher there is a sense where you really want to teach back in the place where you began,” she said. “I love it here, but I feel it is my duty to go back home at the end.”