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Dr. Mary McAleese to receive  2018 Drew CRCC Peace Builder Award at Ireland Conference 

Mary McAleese photo


Review of the Drew 2017 Transatlantic Connections Conference

2017 had a fantastic start, with the fourth annual transatlantic connections conference taking place in Bundoran, Ireland, and the annual CRCC Peace (Ireland) award, which this year was presented to Mrs. Patricia Hume, (accepted on her behalf by her son, John Hume Jnr.) by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Charlie Flanagan

John Hume Jnr with Chris Taylor, Don Mullan, JG

The Transatlantic Connections Conference returned to Bundoran for the fourth year in a row, and  it was a stunning success, with many memorable speakers and events.  The theme for 2017 was ‘Equality Emerging’ and over 150 speakers addressed the conference, exploring this theme in a range of fields, from History and Literature to Sport, Politics, Peace Studies and Popular Culture. There was also a one-day symposium on Humanities in Medicine, and a well-attended and lively day of panels focusing on the Irish Language, in association with University of Ulster and Queens University Belfast.

Keynote talks by   the Honorable Helen Shores-Lee, from Birmingham Alabama, Brendan Fay, LGBT activist and founder of the ‘St. Pat’s for all’ movement in New York, Donál Donnelly, author of ‘Prisoner 1082’ and subject of documentary ‘The Invisible Man’ and Professor Christine Kinealy, Director of the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University drew full houses, and the Judge received a standing ovation for her moving account of her life growing up in the South during the Civil Rights period.

Other guest speakers include Boston-based author of ‘All Souls’, Michael Patrick MacDonald, historian William Roulston, and the Derry Bogside Artists, who dedicated their presentation to their colleague Will Kelly, who sadly passed away last week. It was an emotional tribute to Will Kelly, and the University are extremely grateful to the Bogside Artists for coming to the conference under the sad circumstances.

The weekend also included show-stopping performances by The Henry Girls, Mirenda Rosenberg and Erdini, and Johnny Gallagher and the Big Box Ceili Band. The visitors from the USA were thrilled with the impeccable standards of our local musicians.

On Saturday 14 January at 3pm, there was a live recording of the Irish Times Women’s Podcast, hosted by Kathy Sheridan. The theme of the podcast will be women and equality, and this podcast is available here

The Conference concluded on Saturday night with a supper and gala award evening. McGarrigles restaurant, Bundoran, served a fantastic meal, and artists Kevin Lowery, McGonigles glass studio, and Michael Griffin of the Donegal Craft Village provided the awards. The top award of the night, provided by artist Gavin McCrea in memory of the late Alan McSherry, was presented to William (Bill) Rogers of Drew University for his services to the Transatlantic Conference over the last four years.

General consensus was that this was the best Transatlantic Connections Conference yet, and that planning for 2018 would start immediately. The organizers thanked Drew University for their faith in locating their international conference in Bundoran, and Donegal County Council for their sponsorship of the event.





2016 was also memorable, with the wonderful honor of having the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins present the Drew University CRCC Peacebuilder award to former Congressman Bruce Morrison. Our Drew students, faculty and alumni who went to Ireland for this event were treated to two memorable speeches, and an evening to remember. And- as if that was not enough, we also brought together the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness and the leader of the Unionist Party Mike Nesbitt for a joint keynote address at our Donegal Conference.

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Dean William Rogers at the 2014 Transatlantic Conference in Bundoran Let us introduce you to the Irish Studies people.

William (Bill) Rogers is Associate Dean of the Caspersen School of graduate studies, and a lecturer in Irish Studies courses. Bill is a very regular visitor to Ireland, and has led many study tours to Ireland from Drew. He is also one of the founders of the Transatlantic Connections Conference, which takes place in Ireland each January.

DPP_5218Professor of Irish Studies, Caoimhin de Barra joined Drew University in Fall of 2014. The first thing to know about this native of Blarney, in County Cork, Ireland, is that his first name is pronounced “Kwee-veen.” The second thing to know is that he is “a passionate advocate for the retention and growth of the Irish Gaelic language in Ireland.” While getting his two master’s degrees and PhD at the University of Delaware, De Barra was on a rugby club team that won the Men’s Club Rugby National Championship in 2013. Caoimhin lectures in Irish Studies in the college and the graduate school.


Professor Christine Kinealy and some Drew students at the Transatlantic Connection Conference

Professor Christine Kinealy was one of the founders of the Drew University Irish Studies Program. Now Director of the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Professor Kinealy is a guest lecturer at Drew University, and teaches at the University each summer. Professor  Kinealy is a highly regarded writer and lecturer. In 1984, she earned her Ph.D. from Trinity College, Dublin, writing on the introduction of the Poor Law in Ireland. Kinealy has written extensively about the Great Hunger and its impact, most notably in her book This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-52, and has spoken to both the US Congress and British Parliament on the Famine. In addition to the Great Hunger, her topics include nineteenth century Ireland, the revolutions of 1848, Daniel O’Connell, and Irish-American nationalism and memory and commemoration in Irish history.  She has written 18 books on Irish and Irish-American history and numerous scholarly articles.

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Niamh Hamill earned her Ph.D. in History at Drew University. A native of Donegal, Niamh has been very involved in the development of the Irish Studies programming at Drew. As Director of the Institute of Study Abroad Ireland, Niamh has forged various partnerships between Drew and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the Donegal Diaspora project, and Peace Studies organisations in the border counties. Niamh will be one of the leaders of the 2017 Ireland trip and Transatlantic Conference

Jonathan with Peace Studies presenters from 2014 conference

Professor Jonathan Golden is the Director of the Drew University Center for Religion, Conflict and Culture, and has been very involved in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution programs and initiatives that focus on the Irish Peace Process. Jonathan also founded the Irish Studies Peace Award, which last year recognised Niall O’Dowd for his outstanding contribution to conflict resolution in Northern Ireland.


JANUARY 4-14 2018


Fairy Bridge Shane Smyth

Drew University will be taking undergraduate and graduate students on a peace studies trip to Ireland which will include the Transatlantic Connections Conference, the Dublin Peace award, and a lecture and tour program.

JANUARY 10-13 2018



The annual Drew University Conference in Irish Studies, Transatlantic Connections 5, will take place in Donegal, Ireland from January 10th-January 13th 2018. For the Call For Papers, Registration, Keynote speakers and all other information, please visit www.taccireland.com