Hello All, please support Irish Studies in America – Below is a letter from Traolach O’Riordain who heads up the Irish Studies program based out of University of Montana. The quality and quantity of programs that they offer have been truly amazing, and now he and “Friends of Irish Studies” are spearheading an Irish American film project that when complete will air on both American and Irish TV. Read below and help Traolach if you can- Thank You!…
To the folks at Celtic Connection,
I hope all goes well. I’m writing to ask for our help the word out about our documentary film project. This appeal for help comes, as you would expect, at the 11th hour. I now have two weeks to do what I once had six weeks to accomplish! Our hope is that these films will not only record and share a history of the Irish in Montana but will focus nationwide attention on the rich Irish culture of this state, the unique Irish Studies program we have, and, in some small way, help to attract out-of-state students from the greater Irish American community. As you know, we have a serious enrollment crisis at UM which threatens all program on campus, including Irish Studies.
I know you have a large community of supporters so I’m sending you a poster and asking that you forward it to all your friends, family, contacts and all others whom you believe share your love for Ireland, Irish history, language and culture. I better tell you a little bit about the poster, especially about one of the people featured.
If you look at the pictures, you’ll immediately recognize Marcus Daly and Thomas Francis Meagher. The guy in the middle is one of the unsung heroes of Irish America. His name was Sean O Sullivan and he is probably best known as the father of Fr. Eamon, Fr. Sarsfield and Veronica O Sullivan. Many others who have seen the picture have recognized him as the man who was the janitor in Butte Central High School. What people don’t know about him is that he was a scholar, a poet, a writer, a life-long member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a champion of the Irish language, and one of the leading cultural nationalists in the United States of America. He was a close personal friend of Eamon de Valera and welcomed to his home such leading Irish nationalists as Countess Markievicz, Mrs. Pearse (mother of Patrick and Willie Pearse), Mary Mac Swiney (sister of Terence Mac Swiney), Mrs. Tom Clarke (wife of the executed leader of the Easter Rising), Frank Aiken, and many more. O Sullivan’s literary output and contribution to the cultural and political life of the Irish in America is now the subject of a PhD thesis. Stories and songs he wrote himself or were taken down from him are held in the Library of Congress, the National Library in Dublin, and in the Butte Silver Bow Archives. He is one of those great figures whose life history seems to have ignored, but we plan to change that with your help and the help of others who recognize the need to honor those who came before us.
I know that it’s a difficult time of year to ask for money, but I do believe that the Irish community nationwide will support a project that focuses on the achievements of the Irish of America. The 150th anniversary of the death of Thomas Meagher takes place next year so it’s appropriate to feature his life with a special emphasis on his time in Montana; a film on Marcus Daly, nationalist and industrialist, is long overdue; and O Sullivan represents an cultural movement that originated in America and began the revolution, as Padraig Pearse said, that would achieve independence.
Once these documentaries are made, they will be broadcast on PBS and on Irish national television. We will also place a copy of each in every high school in Montana, and will offer scholarships to students to study Irish culture at UM for essays, poems and short stories inspired by the films. It’s an ambitious plan, but we need to be creative and ambitious if we are going to educate and encourage the next generation to study the history and culture of the Irish.
That’s about it. Thanks so much,
Traolach O’Riordain [email protected]