|Mary McAleese, President of Ireland from 1997-2011
Mary McAleese, who as president of Ireland helped bring about an end to “The Troubles” she had known during her youth in Northern Ireland, will come to Boston College this fall as the Burns Library Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies.
As Burns Scholar, McAleese will teach a course and present public lectures during the fall semester while pursuing research in the Burns Library.
“Coming to Boston, using that wonderful Burns Library, talking with students and faculty members from a variety of disciplines, including my beloved Irish Studies,” said McAleese, “will be for me a seminal opportunity to enrich and deepen the insights I can bring to my own research and also hopefully to add a little to the insights of others.”
A Catholic from Belfast, McAleese became the first Northern Irish native to be elected Irish president when she took office in 1997, bringing with her memories of sectarian violence that forced her family to move out of North Belfast. Believing the tides of history were changing, McAleese proclaimed “Building Bridges” as the theme of her presidency and advocated for peace and reconciliation through regular trips to Northern Ireland and by hosting visitors from the North at her official residence.
"The life of Mary McAleese represents an abundantly appropriate model for Boston College now celebrating its sesquicentennial year,” said Center for Irish Programs Executive Director and University Professor Thomas Hachey.
“Our institution's journey, from modest Irish immigrant roots to that of a globally distinguished university,” he said, “mirrors Mary's own life in which she persisted from early adversity to the pinnacle position of head of state in her native country. And in that career she has unfailingly projected the Jesuit focus on being ‘men and women for others.’"