St Mary’s University Twickenham: Centre for Irish Studies
Looking back to Ireland and out to the world from London, the Centre for Irish Studies is a prism through which the changing history of Anglo-Irish relations can be viewed. With its ebbs and flows of people and ideas, and as a focus for education for over 150 years, St Mary’s is an apt location for a Centre that reflects the diverse interests of Irish Studies. The Centre for Irish Studies runs a joint lecture with the Irish Literary Society every year, Dr Keith Hopper delivered the 2014 lecture reflecting on the work of Dermot Healy and looking forward to posthumus editions of Healy’s work across many forms.
The Centre was formed in 1990 under its inaugural director, Jim O’Hara, following the validation of the BA (Hons) degree programme in Irish Studies. Based in the ‘Old House’, 1920s buildings of the Strawberry Hill campus, it quickly developed throughout the 1990s and expanded its staff, running lecture series, inviting speakers that included politicians, poets and playwrights. It also hosted major conferences and became productive in research. During a visit in 1999, Irish President Mary McAleese described the Centre as ‘an acknowledged leader in the field of Irish Studies’.
The Irish Studies Masters course at the CIS focuses on the particular, enduring influence of the demographic, cultural production and political activity of the Irish in Britain and their descendants on the nature of both countries over the past century. Its distinctiveness as a course is to view Ireland from the proximate strangeness that exile, migrancy and generational remove provide. The mutual insight is by definition to cast light on the changing nature of Britain and its post-colonial identity.