History and Mission

What began with a few visionary faculty members and the generous support of the Keough and Naughton families has become even stronger through additional generous benefactors and the efforts of many dedicated and creative Notre Dame faculty, students, and administrators. Now a part of the University's newest school, the Keough School of Global Affairs, our Institute is widely recognized as a world leader in Irish studies.

  • 1992

    Founding of the Institute

    Long-time benefactors to the University of Notre Dame Donald and Marilyn Keough of Atlanta, Georgia, give a generous endowment to the University to establish an Irish Studies program. They also endow a chair—initially held by Seamus Deane—who comes from Ireland to Notre Dame to join English faculty member Christopher Fox, a scholar of 18th-century British and Irish literature.

  • 1996

    Presence in Ireland

    With Notre Dame International, the Institute establishes a center in Dublin’s Newman House and, later, O’Connell House, that will go on to serve hundreds of Notre Dame undergraduates in joint programs with Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and Dublin City University. 

  • 1997

    National Recognition

    The University receives a major Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Mellon Foundation to establish a multi-million-dollar library fund and permanent NEH faculty Fellowship program in Irish and Medieval Studies. 

  • 1998

    The IRISH Seminar

    With an opening reading by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, the Institute convenes its first summer graduate IRISH Seminar in Dublin, which still meets there and at other international sites (Paris, Buenos Aires, Rome, and Oxford, as well as at Notre Dame's Kylemore Abbey Global Centre).  An intense intellectual exchange and experience, the seminar has been a formative experience for scores of Notre Dame graduate students and their peers from universities around the world. 

  • 1999

    The Ireland Council

    Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Donald Keough and Martin Naughton, Notre Dame’s Ireland Council is founded to support the Institute’s activities and to guide its trajectory. 

  • 2001

    Christopher Fox named Inaugural Director

    Christopher Fox, Professor of English, named Director of the Institute.

  • 2002

    NEH Postdoctoral Fellowship Inaugurated

    The first National Endowment for the Humanities-Keough postdoctoral fellow takes up residence at the Institute. Since that time, our NEH fellows have gone on to produce award-winning books and to occupy distinguished positions at institutions around the world. 

  • 2003

    Chair in Irish Language and Literature Established

    The Institute establishes the first chair in Irish Language in the United States in over 100 years. It is held by Professor Breandán Ó Buachalla (1936-2010), the inaugural Thomas J. and Kathleen M. O'Donnell Chair of Irish Language and Literature.

  • 2004

    Founding of the Department of Irish Language and Literature

    The first Department of Irish Language and Literature outside of Ireland is founded at Notre Dame.

  • 2006

    A New Name: The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies

    With 15 faculty fellows present, then-President of Ireland Mary McAleese re-christens the Institute “The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies” to honor the generous contributions of Martin and Carmel Naughton of Slane, Ireland.

  • 2010

    Library Resources

    The Hesburgh Library's Irish Studies Collection is recognized as a leading collection in the world. It covers all aspects of Irish language and literature, from the earliest printed books in Irish to contemporary works, with a significant collection of periodical literature.  Notable collections include the A.A. Luce Collection on George Berkeley, the Todd Collection of the Works of Edmund Burke, and the O'Neill Collection of Traditional Irish Music.  

  • 2010

    Institute Receives Top Ranking

    The Institute undergoes its first-ever external review. The review team, led by Professor Joseph Lee of New York University, ranks the Keough-Naughton Institute as the top program of its kind in the world. 

  • 2012

    Graduate Minor in Irish Studies Established

    Doctoral students in a number of disciplines—including Anthropology, English, History, Political Science, and Theology—now have the opportunity to earn a formal credential as an Irish Studies Minor through a mix of course work, demonstrated proficiency in the Irish language, and attendance at graduate proseminars.

  • 2015

    The Institute Joins Notre Dame's Newest School, The Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs

    The Keough-Naughton Institute becomes part of Notre Dame's newest school, The Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs. While remaining true to its founding interests in language, literature, and history, the Institute embraces a new focus on global themes, recognizing that Ireland's history and culture are rooted in such themes as empire and colonialism, revolution and rebellion, migration, hunger, religious pluralism, conflict resolution, and peacekeeping.

  • 2016

    The Worlding of Irish Studies/1916 The Irish Rebellion

    The Institute hosts the 500-person annual American Conference of Irish Studies with the theme coined by Faculty Fellow Declan Kiberd: "The Worlding of Irish Studies." Further contextualizing Irish studies within a global context, the landmark documentary film, 1916 The Irish Rebellion, presents the 1916 Rebellion as a pivotal event in world history. Faculty Fellow Bríona Nic Dharmiada, Thomas J. and Kathleen M. O'Donnell Professor of Irish Studies and Concurrent Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre, is the documentary’s originator, writer, producer, and executive producer; Director Christopher Fox is executive producer for Notre Dame. The film is a centerpiece of the Irish government's year-long commemoration of the Rising and is shown on RTÉ, the BBC, and PBS affiliates, with screenings and broadcasts worldwide to viewers in more than 60 countries on five continents.

  • 2016

    The Institute and the West of Ireland

    The Institute finds new opportunities and focus in the west of Ireland, while broadening its partnership with Notre Dame International, when the University dedicates its newest global center in Connemara: The Kylemore Abbey Global Centre. The Centre administers Notre Dame's programs at the National University of Ireland Galway and the summer undergraduate immersion program "The Inside Track"  as well as creating numerous and varied programming of its own. Notre Dame faculty and students make the Kylemore Abbey Global Centre a new home for seminars, workshops, classes, and conferences. 

  • 2018

    Patrick Griffin named Director

    Patrick Griffin, the Madden-Hennebry Professor of History and a scholar of Atlantic revolutions, is named Institute Director.

  • 2020

    Launch of the Clingen Family Center for the Study of Modern Ireland/ARINS Project

    Through a leadership gift of Ireland Council members Brian and Deidre Clingen, the Institute creates the Clingen Family Center for the Study of Modern Ireland. In the same year, the Institute joins with the Royal Irish Academy to launch a multidisciplinary, multiyear project called Analysing & Researching Ireland, North and South (ARINS), bringing together leading scholars and researchers from across the island of Ireland to serve as an authoritative, nonpartisan, independent reference point for evidence, information, insights and analysis about constitutional, institutional, and policy options for the island.