2015 Keough and Pfeiffer interns Learn on the Ground in Ireland

Author: Mary Hendriksen

The Dublin summer internship program has long been a hallmark of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.  Under the direction of the internship coordinator at the Keough Naughton Centre, the University’s Dublin global gateway, Notre Dame students work with partner organizations based on their intellectual passions, individual expertise, and career ambitions.

Beyond the invaluable work opportunities, students are exposed to Irish culture through a variety of experiences. In Summer 2015, and funded through the generosity of members of the Ireland Council, ten students were interns in placements ranging from arts organizations, Irish governmental agencies, athletic associations, and not-for-profit social service agencies.

The following summary of the activities of the Summer 2015 interns was prepared by Ciarán Pollard, the manager of Internships, Community-Based Learning and Social Media at the Keough Naughton Notre Dame Centre, the University of Notre Dame, Dublin.

Keough Interns


Julia Buff worked in Media Relations/Communications at the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Her very first task at work was to take the famous All-Ireland trophies for both Gaelic football and hurling up to the roof of Croke Park, the cathedral of Irish sport, for a photoshoot, which was an incredible opportunity. As well as helping with photoshoots and news conferences, Julia worked on a team developing and sharing social media content, editing and proofreading internal communications and match day programmes, worked with radio stations to promote games, and conducted interviews and wrote articles for the GAA website. Julia got to puck the ball around on the sacred sod of Croke Park, with the help of a few GAA hurling and camogie (women’s hurling) stars. Julia loved learning about the incredibly rich history and cultural significance of the GAA and felt that she was really placed at the living heart of Irish culture in Croke Park.

Seán Cotter, a recent graduate of art history at Notre Dame, assisted in the Education Department of the National Gallery, one of Ireland’s leading national cultural institutions. Working under the supervision of Dr. Marie Bourke and Joanne Drum, Seán contributed to ongoing projects, including collection provenance research, government liaison, and public relations. Seán had a prominent role in conducting tours of masterpieces (including works by Caravaggio, Velázquez, Vermeer and Picasso) in the collection for foreign students, in accordance with the Education Department’s goal of extending accessibility of the national collection to all people. The experience gained at the National Gallery deepened Seán’s love of public outreach through art. Inspired by his Irish experience, Seán now intends to pursue a career in education in heritage or cultural service, following the completion of his MA in art history.


Bridget Galassini interned with the Anglo-Irish section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA), based in the Reconciliation Fund, which supports organizations working for peace, understanding, and anti-sectarianism in Northern Ireland. Bridget’s day-to-day work was uplifting because it was helping people. Tasks include creating budgets for the organizations and their projects, reading grant applications or post-disbursement applications, and communicating with the organizations. Overall, Bridget had excellent exposure to non-profits/non-governmental organizations (NGOs)/charities/etc. involved in post-conflict work in Northern Ireland. Bridget also generated a Budget Management Manual for the fund, a huge independent project. Bridget was pleased that DFA trusted her as an intern to really learn by doing. Bridget also participated in  visits to the organizations in Belfast. Bridget was able to express her interests in peace building, budgets and non-profits/NGOs/charities/etc. – a perfect placement for a Peace Studies and (International) Economics major.


Cecilia Heffron served as an intern in the Press Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) at Iveagh House on Stephen’s Green. She was responsible for alerting newspapers, television stations, and other media outlets about press opportunities with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, official visits of foreign dignitaries, and other meetings and events sponsored by the department. During department events, she monitored the Twitter account, took photographs, and helped with the accreditation process for journalists. She reviewed the morning papers to create a report of all news stories relevant to Irish foreign affairs. Cecilia was tasked with rebuilding a page on the website and writing web features on each of the lectures in a commemorative lecture series hosted by Iveagh House. Lastly, in the light of tragedies that affected the Irish abroad (the balcony collapse in Berkeley and the terrorist attack in Tunisia), Cecilia liaised with journalists regarding Ireland’s emergency response approach. She also assisted in monitoring the emergency phone lines.




Megan McCuen interned at Fighting Words, a creative writing centre serving Irish youth through field trips for primary and secondary students, summer camps, and writing groups. Their work allows students to express themselves, explore their imaginations, and gain confidence in their writing. All Fighting Words programs are free of charge and are facilitated by volunteer tutors. As an intern, Megan worked to facilitate field trips, helping the children begin a story as a group, then mentor them as they finished it on their own. She eventually led the workshop—one of her favourite experiences. Megan helped out in administrative capacities as needed. She also helped out at the summer camps, where kids came to learn playwriting and fiction writing. The students constantly come up with zany characters, eccentric stories, and thoughtful writing. As Megan writes herself and intends to teach after graduation, this internship was a perfect fit for her.

Maggie McDowell worked at Poetry Ireland, an organization committed to achieving excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry throughout the island of Ireland. Maggie logged interesting submissions to the Poetry Ireland Review, reached out to book sellers who promote the publication, took tickets at a packed poetry reading, and drafted tweets promoting literary events around the country. She witnessed the scope of Poetry Ireland’s outreach, and contributed to the smooth running of the organization. Before coming to Poetry Ireland, she had never made a sales call or done anything resembling marketing, and reported that she was ignorant of the mechanics of editing software. She found this to be the most valuable part of her time: that she was allowed to try her hand at every task and no two days were the same.

John (Jack) McGinn interned at the National Folklore Collection. His general work included cataloging hundreds of copybooks by civil parish as well as the preservation of manuscripts and copybooks. He also worked on digitizing photo slides and archiving books and papers. One of his most enjoyable tasks was transcribing several stories in Irish as well as locating specific entries in various manuscripts, most often in Irish. He also assisted visiting the public with the finding and copying of different materials in the collection. He was thrilled to work hands-on with such spectacular primary source material and to learn so much about the collection, all the while regularly interacting with co-workers through the medium of Irish – one of his great passions.


Graham Pilotte interned at the Abbey Theatre, a globally recognized leader in the theatrical world. A typical workday was filled with a combination of meetings, teamwork, performances, and individual research and projects – she was always on the go. She was able to attend the model box presentation, where the set and lighting designers from an upcoming show presented a detailed diorama of their concepts. Graham described it as enlightening to see how many people it takes to make a theatre company work, and how varied and dynamic the workplace environment is. The Abbey’s mission is to create a world-class theatre that actively engages with and reflects Irish society while prioritizing Irish writers and artists, as well as audience experience. At the Abbey, Graham worked in a variety of capacities. She was based in the Sales and Customer Service Department, where she mastered the Tessitura software to track ticket sales and customer relations. She also researched how to increase tourism awareness in major markets in Europe and Asia. She also assisted in stage management during performances of the Irish classic, “The Shadow of a Gunman.” Graham enjoyed a behind-the-scenes view of arts administration at a major world theatre, a tremendously valuable experience.


Pfeiffer Interns:

Kate Broadbent and Kelsey Sullivan, working alongside two Irish students, Patrick Jordan and Sarah McAvinchey, researched the factors affecting care leavers in Ireland through Don Bosco Care, a non-profit organization, that offers residential care, aftercare, and outreach services to young people unable to live at home. Through this project, they examined both the benefits and challenges within the care system as a platform for future research. The team produced a research report at the end of their eight weeks. Kelsey also worked in the fundraising department, planning the annual fundraiser. Kate and Kelsey also immersed themselves happily in the community atmosphere of Don Bosco, and loved working with their new Irish friends in the attic/penthouse/boutique office space.





Interns have great fun during their stay in Ireland as well as engage in their internship activities.  Here, several Summer 2015 interns enjoy ice cream at a Fourth of July party hosted by Martin and Carmel Naughton, generous benefactors to the University of Notre Dame and to the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.
(Left to right:  Megan McCuen, Emily Fortner, Seán CotterJulia Buff, Maggie McDowell, and Jack McGinn)