"It’s a discipline that has the power to erase the vestiges of cultural shame, the sense of being disvalued. It’s a study that takes a whole group of people, a whole nation, out of the alley and into the light of their own language and of modern European history, where it belongs." - Rebecca Tracy, on why we need Irish Studies (2018)
Situated within the UC Berkeley Institute of European Studies, the Irish Studies Program aims to build an intellectual community around shared cultural and creative interests in contemporary Ireland and Irish-America. Supported by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and in partnership with the Consulate General of Ireland to the Western United States, the Program seeks to deepen relations between UC Berkeley and Irish initiatives across four key areas:
Research – We foster scientific cooperation with universities and research centers, and support student scholarships for study in Ireland.
Culture – In partnership with Irish Consulate and Irish cultural organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, we host public programs with notable writers, scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs, and artists.
Diplomacy—We host diplomats and politicians to promote and deepen Irish-American relations.
Innovation—Though a focus on Irish business, technology and creativity, we aim to make the program a dynamic hub where culture and innovation meet.
The Irish Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley was launched in Fall 2016. For more than a century, the University of California, Berkeley has been a locus for the study of Irish culture, language, and literature. In 1911, the first North American degree-granting program in Celtic Languages and Literatures was founded at Berkeley, and the Celtic Studies Program thrives today, offering the only undergraduate degree in Celtic Studies in North America. W.B. Yeats spoke at Berkeley in 1904, and since then many important figures in Irish politics and culture have visited. Seamus Heaney was a lecturer in the English department in 1970-1971, and he returned throughout his life. In 1989, Paul Muldoon was the Roberta C. Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry in the English Department, and Medbh McGuckian took up the same post several years later. In 1991, President Mary Robinson visited campus and was awarded the Berkeley Medal, the university’s highest honor. President Michael D. Higgins made a major visit in October 2015 and announced the founding of the program during his time on campus.