Mary Lou McDonald presents Drew Peace award to Niall O'Dowd at the Drew CRCC event in Dublin Jan. 12.
Mary Lou McDonald presents Drew Peace award to Niall O’Dowd at the Drew CRCC event in Dublin Jan. 12.

This January, CRCC led a seven-day trip to Ireland, with a focus on Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. The trip included visits to Dublin, Belfast, and Donegal, where all participants took part in the Drew University Transatlantic Connections Conference, hosted by the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

The Peace Tour was led by Professor Jonathan Golden of Drew’s CRCC, who was joined by a line-up of world-renowned speakers.  The tour kicked off on January 12th in Dublin City  with a launch event at Club na Muinteori, where author, journalist and founder of Irish Central, Niall O’Dowd was presented with a CRCC Peace Builder award in recognition of his significant contribution to the Irish Peace process.  The award was presented by Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Leader of the Sinn Fein Party in Ireland, and T.D. ( Parliamentary Representative) for the Dublin Central constituency, who was part of the Sinn Fein negotiating team that delivered the St. Andrews Agreement.

The tour then moved on to the town of Bundoran in the border region of County Donegal.   This was followed by a day in Belfast, where the tour visit the Shankill and Falls Road areas, and the infamous Belfast Peace Wall.  The tour culminated with the Transatlantic Conference and a full day of Peace Studies panels including scholars, local politicians and people engaged in peacebuilding efforts around the world.  Other panels at the conference included speakers on Irish history, literature, popular culture, food culture and film studies.

Humanitarian and author Don Mullan, author of "Eyewitness Bloody Sunday: The Truth"
Humanitarian and author Don Mullan, author of “Eyewitness Bloody Sunday: The Truth”

Keynote speaker Don Mullan, world renowned humanitarian and best-selling author whose book Eyewitness Bloody Sunday is officially recognized as a primary catalyst for a new Bloody Sunday Inquiry, spoke about his work in Derry and his new project commemorating the WWI Christmas Peace Truce. Professor Christine Kinealy, the Director of the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, author/historian, and Irish America Hall of Famer (2014) delivered a keynote talk on controversial the topic of self-censorship during the Troubles.  The lineup of presenters also included Mick Moloney, folklorist, musicologist, arts advocate, musician, and professor of music and Irish studies at NYU, winner of the NEA’s distinguished National Heritage Award (1999) and Ireland’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award (2013), and a host of other Irish musicians, actors, film screenings and cultural entertainment.  The final gala evening featured award-winning Irish poet Theo Dorgan, who delivered a provocative talk on the commemoration of the 1916 Irish Rising, a topic that will be addressed in depth at the Caspersen School’s Revising the Rising Conference at Drew University, March 20-21.

Niamh, jg, Amira, Earnest
Reverend Earnest Nadeem, Jonathan Golden, Amira Abohussein, and Niamh Hamill at the TACC 2015.

Finally, two of the CRCC’s global peacebuilding partners, Amira Abohussein of Alexandria, Egypt and Rev. Earnest Nadeem of Lahore, Pakistan, joined the Peace Tour and presented at the conference.  Both alum of the CRCC’s Drew Institute on Religion and Conflict Transformation, their presentations focused on ways that they have implemented learning from the Institute to advance interfaith interaction and dialogue in their home countries.