Irish Minister of State Joe McHugh is greeted by Catholic Memorial students, CM staff and members of the Boston delegation at Donahue Hall.Catholic Memorial School

When Catholic Memorial's Irish Studies students visited Ireland in June, they were warmly welcomed to the Emerald Isle by then Minister of State Dinny McGinley.

On Wednesday, CM had an opportunity to reciprocate by hosting Joe McHugh, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, while he visited Boston. He was accompanied by Irish Consulate General, Boston Breandán Ó Caollaí, who officially recognized the CM Irish Studies students and their teacher Mary Concannon during a reception this past spring.

Principal Richard Chisholm thanked Mr. McHugh and the Irish government for the generous hospitality bestowed upon the CM students and their teachers while they visited Ireland.

Brother Anthony Cavet said a blessing and tea was served in Donahue Hall. Irish Studies students showed a slide presentation featuring beautiful photographs taken by teacher Nora McCauley, a trip chaperon.

State Senator Tom Rush, along with Representative Ed Coppinger were on hand to give Mr. McHugh a hearty welcome to Boston.

During the first-of-its-kind pilot program, CM partnered with Muintearas of Connemara, a travel and educational program located in the Irish speaking district of Galway, the Gaeltacht.

Irish Studies teacher Mary Concannon, Br. Anthony Kiril Cavet, and teacher Nora McGauley organized the trip and traveled with the CM boys to Connemara and beyond.

The group received a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to help with the costs of the trip.

The Irish Studies Program is the only known Irish language program of its kind at the secondary school level outside of the European Union, according to the Irish Consulate General, Boston Breandán Ó Caollaí. It is an elective course offered through CM’s World Language Department and is open to students in grades 10 through 12. Students learn about the history, culture and language of Ireland and how it relates to Boston.