Notre Dame’s wide-ranging Irish studies programming to expand

Author: Dennis Brown

Main Building

When the University of Notre Dame established an institute for Irish studies in 1992, the general reaction was, “Wait, what, you don’t have one already?” It was, indeed, surprising that the home of the Fighting Irish — where 16 of the 17 presidents have been of Irish ancestry — was lacking in scholarship related to Ireland for its first 150 years.

But with the creation of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, Notre Dame quickly became, in the words of the Chronicle of Higher Education, “the largest program outside of Ireland for teaching and research in Irish language, literature and life.”

Now, the University will expand its study of the Irish with the creation of a center to study modern Ireland, made possible by a leadership gift from Brian and Deidre Clingen.

“The creation and growth of our programs dedicated to Irish history, culture and literature have been among Notre Dame’s significant achievements in its last quarter-century,” said Thomas G. Burish, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University. “Brian and Deidre have generously supported our Irish studies institute and many other initiatives at Notre Dame for many years, and I am deeply grateful to them for this latest transformative gift.”

Patrick Griffin, director of the Keough-Naughton Institute, added: “Ireland has long been a laboratory for such global themes and developments as empire and colonialism, revolution and rebellion, migration, famine, religious pluralism, conflict resolution and peacekeeping. The Clingens’ generous gift will allow us to take the insights garnered from the past and apply them to the present and the future. It enables us to build on our existing strengths and find a new voice on issues that transfix Ireland and the world.”

The rich history of Ireland is one of trial and triumph. From colonialism, revolution, rebellion and migration, to hunger, human rights, conflict resolution and peacekeeping, the country has faced many of the challenges the world faces today: economic disparity, unequal access to education, border issues and rural development.

The new Clingen Family Center for the Study of Modern Ireland will take the insights garnered from the past and apply them to the present and future. The center will feature new faculty appointments in Irish politics and contemporary culture, exchange programs, postdoctoral and graduate fellowships and student engagement through lecture series, workshops and conferences at Notre Dame and at the University’s properties in Ireland.

Deidre Clingen earned her bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. Brian Clingen earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame and his master of business administration degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Brian is the founder and managing partner of BP Capital Management, a private equity firm formed in 1998. The firm manages equity and debt investments primarily in the service and finance sectors. The Clingens’ three daughters graduated from Notre Dame: Brittany ’09, Amanda ’12 and Shelby ’16.

The Clingens’ previous support of Notre Dame initiatives related to Ireland include generous gifts toward the Kylemore Abbey project, the documentary film “1916: The Irish Rebellion,” the Dublin Internship Program, the Keough-Naughton director initiatives, the Irish language and literature discretionary fund and the Keough summer intern program. They also have supported international student scholarships and athletics. They are members of the University’s Cavanaugh Council and Boldly Notre Dame Campaign Cabinet, and Brian is a member of the Ireland Advisory Council.

The Clingen Family Center for the Study of Modern Ireland will be a part of the Keough-Naughton Institute, a teaching and research institute within the Keough School of Global Affairs that is dedicated to the study and understanding of Irish culture in all of its manifestations.

Since it was established in 1992 under the leadership of the acclaimed Irish poet, novelist, critic and historian Seamus Deane, the Keough-Naughton Institute has been home to renowned scholars of literature, history, film, television, theater and many other fields. It is regularly supplemented by visiting professors, some of whom come to Notre Dame as Naughton Fellows in a reciprocal arrangement with Irish universities.

The institute features undergraduate courses with a minor in Irish studies and a Dublin program based at Dublin Global Gateway on Merrion Square, where students take classes from Notre Dame faculty and enroll in courses at University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and the National College of Art and Design. In addition, internships place students in positions in Dublin related to politics, commerce, and culture and society. Graduate students in Anthropology, English, History, Political Science, and Theology doctoral programs at Notre Dame also can pursue a graduate minor in Irish studies.

Notre Dame’s presence in Ireland also features the Kylemore Abbey Global Centre, which hosts courses, retreats and events at the Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle in County Galway on the country’s west coast. The University also stewards Newman University Church in Dublin and operates the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason. The church was constructed in 1856 under the direction of St. John Henry Newman.

In conjunction with the 2020 Notre Dame-Navy football game in Dublin, the University will sponsor a wide array of academic, cultural and faith events throughout the city, similar in scope to programming in 2012 when the two institutions also competed in the Irish capital.

The Clingens’ gift is a component of the Boldly Notre Dame capital campaign.