The Keough-Naughton Institute Celebrates the Achievements of its 2020 Irish Studies Minors

Author: Mary Hendriksen

The Keough-Naughton Institute's 2020 Irish Studies minors took classes on Notre Dame’s campus and in Ireland. They embraced the many opportunities available to Irish Studies minors in the University’s summer, internship, and study-abroad programs.

We congratulate and honor them.

To find out more about the Irish Studies minor program, please follow this LINK .



Mary Hope Clark, Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (College of Science), Minors in Irish Studies and Musical Theatre (College of Arts and Letters)

 “By minoring in Irish Studies,” Mary Hope says, “I have been able to complement my STEM major with the art, beauty, and history of Ireland. Bridging the logic of math and science with the chaos and complexity of the real world provides me with a fuller and more rounded education.”

As so many members of the marching band do, Mary Hope chose summer study abroad in Ireland. She enrolled in the Ireland Inside Track Program after her first year; thus beginning her Irish Studies minor.  On her return to campus she enrolled in Beginners Irish (Gaelic) Language which ultimately led her to study at the National University of Ireland, Galway during the spring of her junior year. While there, she continued her study of the Irish language as well as courses on gender, theatre, music, and mythology.

Senior year, Mary Hope completed a capstone project on the sexual abuse crisis in the Irish Catholic Church interviewing, amongst others, Kathleen McChesney 2020’s Laetare Medal recipient.

After graduation, she will begin work in the Washington, D.C. office of Booz Allen Hamilton as a data scientist.




Jessica Flynn, Business Analytics major (Mendoza College of Business), with a supplementary major in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (College of Science) and Minor in Irish Studies
2020 Recipient of The Donald and Marilyn Keough Award for Excellence in Irish Studies

Jessica’s courses included the Irish language as well as Irish anthropology and film. She was first introduced to Irish Studies and encouraged to explore it further by Professor Sarah McKibben, who taught Jessica’s University Seminar.

Jessica was a recipient of a competitive language award to study Irish language through the Summer Language Abroad Program and spent a memorable summer in Carraroe studying Irish at the NUI Galway Irish Summer School. Jessica studied abroad in University College Dublin the Fall term of her junior year. There, she completed an independent study in Irish language working closely with Elaine Ní Bhraonáin at the Dublin Global Gateway.

Eimear Clowry, Assistant Director of the Dublin Global Gateway, notes that Jessica took the time during her study-abroad experience to explore the Gaeltachtaí in Connemara and West Kerry.

“It is wonderful to see our Dublin Domers immerse themselves in our language and culture,” she says. “We are delighted to see Jessica recognised for her commitment to her Irish language studies. We are honoured to have shared that journey with her.”

In the fall, Jessica will work as a data scientist for Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, D.C.


Anja Renkes

Anja Renkes, Theology Major (College of Arts and Letters), with minors in Irish Studies and Studio Art.

As a student athlete, Anja was introduced to Irish Studies through the Inside Track summer program after her first year at Notre Dame. On campus Anja took Irish language classes and a memorable class on travel to medieval lands and pilgrimage taught by Professor Amy Mulligan. After her junior year, Anja won a Keough-Naughton Research Experience for Undergraduates’ internship that funded her study in Ireland that summer. Under the meticulous direction of Mícheál Mac Craith, National University of Ireland, Galway, and a visiting fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute in Fall 2018, Anja combined her passions in theology, oil painting, and Irish Studies to first research Ireland’s holy wells and then create paintings that contemplate the meaning and cultural relevance of Catholic popular piety at holy wells.

Anja was also a four-year member of the Notre Dame Women’s Rowing Team.

This summer, she is working as an intern at Turner Fine Art, a gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming owned by renowned artist and Notre-Dame grad Kathryn Turner. Anja is helping to launch the exhibit, “While We Were Still...Flowers Bloomed,” which will be available both in the gallery as well as online beginning June 15, featuring world class floral painters. Anja will return to Notre Dame next fall to enter the Mendoza College of Business’ masters of nonprofit administration.  Along with her studies, she will intern for the newly launched mobile commerce company Buckworm. 


[Look back at this space this summer, where we will link to Anja’s online exhibition titled “The Numinous Beauty Collection,” a group of oil paintings that tell the story of her research and inquiry over the last two years exploring human longing for God revealed in Catholic popular piety and material culture at Irish holy wells, which are sites of pilgrimage and prayer.]


While this year’s graduates chose and excelled in diverse majors and academic programs, they are united in their love of Ireland and Irish culture.

They are also similar in their appreciation of the many Irish Studies faculty members and mentors who made their programs of study not only possible but transformative—particularly the efforts of Mary O’Callaghan, Assistant Teaching Professor of Irish Language and Literature and the Keough-Naughton Institute’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. In addition to teaching the students in Irish language classes, Professor O’Callaghan worked on their behalf to suggest and guide them to mentors, internships and study-abroad opportunities, as well as make an Irish Studies minor possible within the bounds of University majors and minors.