Alumni Accomplishments: Niamh Lynch

The Boston College Center for Irish Programs is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Niamh Lynch as director of its Irish Institute. The Irish Institute designs and implements political, educational, and corporate exchange programs for leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland. Supported by funding from the U.S. Congress through the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, these programs promote peace and reconciliation on the island, while contributing to cross-border cooperation and stronger links with the United States. Lynch, a scholar of Irish history and politics, views the current period as “an exciting and challenging time – politically, economically, and culturally – for Ireland and for Northern Ireland.” In Northern Ireland, the impending return of devolved government will mark an important new chapter in the province’s history. Ireland, too, is in transition as it continues to adjust to the dramatic socio-economic changes of recent years.
A native of County Cavan, Ireland, Lynch immigrated to the United States as a teenager. She has had a long association with Boston College, having earned both her BA and her PhD in history at the University. She has lectured on Irish history and politics at Regis College and the University of Massachusetts, and has presented her work at conferences in both Ireland and the United States. In 2004 she served as interim Managing Director of BC-Ireland in Dublin. Equally at home in Ireland and the United States, Lynch is well positioned to navigate the terrain between both cultures. She believes too that her academic background will underscore and strengthen the educational mission of the Institute. “In its ten years of programming, the Irish Institute has established itself as a crucial partner in the peace process while also expanding Boston College’s educational reach far beyond Chestnut Hill. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this extremely important work.”
Thomas E. Hachey, University Professor of History and Executive Director of the Center for Irish Programs, describes Lynch as an academic who possesses all the administrative and entrepreneurial skills the position of Institute Director requires. The Director’s assignment entails designing programs that speak to Ireland’s special needs and are feasible for program leaders on this side of the Atlantic. In addition, she will maintain a close working relationship with each of the other units within the Center, and will coordinate with Congressional funders, State Department monitors, and the Center’s US Embassy and Consular General partners in Dublin and Belfast.
Professor Hachey attributes the high quality found among the half dozen finalists in this recent search to the enviable reputation which the Irish Institute enjoys both here and abroad. And he is quick to give out-going Director Mary O’Herlihy much of the credit for the Institute’s high standing. During O’Herlihy’s four-year tenure, she expanded the number of Institute programs funded by sources other than the federal grant, an initiative Hachey is confident Lynch will build upon.
Together with the United States Department of State, and its Embassy in Dublin, the Boston College Center for Irish Programs will host a two-day conference at Dublin Castle on April 13 and 14, 2007, for several hundred past participants of Irish Institute programs. Ministers of state, ambassadors, political party leaders and many others will attend the event which is being coordinated by the Institute and the Center’s Dublin branch, BC-Ireland, located on St Stephen’s Green.

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