DUBLIN – On a stroll through the streets of this city, one can find the historic Trinity College, the Irish National Art Gallery, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral . and the University of Notre Dame.
Since 1998, the Keough-Notre Dame Centre in the heart of the Irish capital has hosted an average of 70 Notre Dame undergraduates per year to study and experience Irish culture.During that time, the centre has been based in a small portion of historic Newman House, at No. 86 St. Stephens Green, a choice location.
But on Oct. 16, the University celebrated a dramatic improvement in the arrangements for its Irish program with the dedication of OConnell House as a new and larger home for the Keough Centre. The refurbishment of the facility was made possible by benefactions from Notre Dame Trustees Donald Keough and Martin Naughton.
The dedication events included a blessing of the building by Notre Dames president, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., an honorary degree ceremony, a dedication Mass, and remarks from Irish President Mary McAleese.
Notre Dame conferred honorary degrees on Martin McAleese, a native of Belfast and the husband of President McAleese, who has been active in promoting peace and reconciliation in the north of Ireland; Carmel Naughton, chair of Co-Operation Ireland and the National Gallery of Ireland; and Peter Sutherland, chairman of BP and Goldman Sachs International. The degree conferring ceremony took place in the Examination Hall of Trinity College. It was followed by a blessing of the OConnell House by Father Malloy, the official opening of the house by President McAleese, and the dedication Mass at which Father Malloy presided. Music for the Mass was provided by the Notre Dame Folk Choir.
OConnell House, located at No. 58 Merrion Square and just around the corner from Parliament, is only a short walk from Newman House. The new venue will provide offices for Keough Centre faculty and fellows, as well as a home base and meeting site for students enrolled in the Irish studies program. Students will continue to take several of their courses in the Irish studies program at Newman House.
OConnell House was the home of the Irish political leader Daniel OConnell from 1809 until his death in 1847. A nearly legendary Irish figure known as “The Liberator,” OConnell was a lawyer and politician who waged a successful parliamentary battle for the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, under which oppressed Irish Catholics increased their access to the laws and influence on the policies which governed their country.
Today, a gold plaque is mounted to the right of OConnell Houses front door as a sign of its new owner – the University of Notre Dame.