Notre Dame’s Irish Seminar moves from Ireland to Argentina

Author: Michael O. Garvey


One of the flagship programs of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, its annual Irish Seminar, will be held this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Since it was established in 1999, the seminar, an international conference of Irish scholars, post-graduate students and faculty in Irish Studies, has met in Ireland at Notre Dame’s Dublin Centre in O’Connell House on Merrion Square. The 2015 Irish Seminar will meet June 27-July 11 in Buenos Aires at the Institute for Economic and Social Development (IDES).

According to Christopher Fox, director of the Keough-Naughton Institute, the seminar’s change of venue comes at an opportune time. “With the move of the Keough-Naughton Institute into the new Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs , it is not only timely to look at Irish Studies as a global activity but right to do so, when one considers that there are over seventy million people of Irish descent settled worldwide,” he said. “Holding the seminar in South America allows our students and faculty an opportunity to connect with the largest population of Irish immigrants in a non-English speaking country—a group that is almost completely unstudied in North America. It will also allow us to explore untapped connections between Ireland and Argentina and Irish Studies and Latin American Studies. This is a visit, in short, that is long overdue."

Noting the coincidence that next year Ireland will celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and Argentina will celebrate the bicentenary of its declaration of independence, Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, director of the 2015 Irish Seminar, spoke of other affinities between the two countries, due largely to the many Irish people among the millions of European immigrants who poured into Argentina during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The iconic revolutionary of the 1960s, Ernesto (‘Che’) Guevara, for instance, was the son of Ernesto Guevara Lynch, whose ancestors were from County Galway; and among Irish-Argentines with Notre Dame connections were the late political scientist and Notre Dame professor emeritus, Guillermo O’Donnell and the late Robert O’Grady, a 1963 Notre Dame alumnus and generous benefactor to the Hesburgh Libraries and the Snite Museum of Art.

“To consider the Irish experience as being limited to a small island on the edge of Europe or as an ancestral pride paraded every year is to miss the point of Irish Studies,” Ó Giolláin said. “The Irish experience is a global phenomenon and to understand it means engaging with complex global processes and global forces. The intersection of the global mission of the Catholic Church with the flows of Irish migration is an important part of the history of Notre Dame and indeed of Argentina. It seems fitting that the ambition of the foremost center for Irish Studies in the World, the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies should go beyond the better-known Irish experience of the English-speaking countries and be truly global.”

Contact: Professor Ó Giolláin at