History and Mission

2012 Hibernian Lecture

The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies is a teaching-and-bresearch institute dedicated to the study and understanding of Irish culture in all its manifestations.

Established in 1992 under the intellectual leadership of Professor Seamus Deane, the Keough-Naughton Institute’s faculty now includes leaders in Literature, History, Film, Television and Theater and other departments, and it is regularly supplemented by visiting professors, some of whom come to Notre Dame as Naughton Fellows in a reciprocal arrangement with Irish universities. In 2011, Declan Kiberd, considered Ireland’s foremost intellectual, was hired as the Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies, and more recently, Barry McCrea was hired as the Keough Family Professor of Irish Studies from a full tenured post at Yale.  Both professors are highly regarded in their fields and represent the Institute’s commitment to attract and maintain the highest quality faculty.

Our aim is to extend the range of the Institute to include or enrich other areas — Irish music and modern Ireland among them — and to create at Notre Dame not only a center of excellence in Irish Studies but a paradigm program of university education for the contemporary era. In 2012, Keough-Naughton Institute hosted Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Helen Phelan, Directors of Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick in an effort to explore a new program in Irish music.  Another undertaking includes the landmark, award-winning documentary 1916 The Irish Rebellion written and produced by Bríona Nic Dharmada, Thomas J. and Kathleen O’Donnell Chair of Irish Language and Literature and concurrent Professor of Film, Television and Theatre, and for which Institute Director Christopher Fox was executive producer for Notre Dame.

Undergraduate courses offered by the Keough-Naughton Institute provide Notre Dame students with a unique opportunity to explore Ireland’s extraordinary culture and traditions (in literature, in both the English and Irish languages), and distinctive historical development, including its influence on the United States. The core of the program is a Minor in Irish Studies which helps students develop their understanding of Irish society, culture and politics through both course work and first-hand experience of Ireland. 

The Keough-Naughton Institute's Dublin Program, based at O'Connell House, a late eighteenth century building on Merrion Square, enables Irish Studies Minors and interested undergraduates to continue their studies in Ireland. Students take classes with Notre Dame faculty in the Centre and also enroll in courses in Arts and Letters, Commerce, Science and Engineering at University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and the National College of Art and Design.

The Keough-Naughton Institute also offers Irish Internships which place Notre Dame students in positions in Dublin relating to Irish politics, commerce, culture and society; the internships last for a period of seven weeks each summer.

Graduate students can pursue a graduate Minor in Irish Studies.  Graduate students attached to the Keough-Naughton Institute generally complete Ph.D.s in History or English. Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library can sustain advanced research in all areas of Irish society and culture. Its holdings include outstanding Berkeley, Swift, Goldsmith and Burke Collections, the Loeber Collection of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Irish Fiction, the Captain Francis O’Neill Irish Music Collection and an extensive range of primary and secondary material relating to the 1798 Rising, the Great Famine, 1845-52 and Irish-America. The library also has extensive holdings in the literature (in Irish and English), economy, religion, and politics of contemporary Ireland.

Each summer, the Keough-Naughton Institute hosts The IRISH Seminar, a prestigious weeks-long seminar in which graduate students from Notre Dame and other universities engage with key figures in Irish cultural, intellectual and political debates. The IRISH Seminar has been held in Dublin, Paris, Buenos Aires, and, in Summer 2017, in Rome, exploring the connections between Ireland and Italy.