Connecting scholarship with a vision for the future, the Global Ireland initiative and Los Angeles’ standing as an international creative hub mix vigorously in Loyola Marymount University’s Irish Studies program. When Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach, or prime minister, opened the Consulate General in L.A., he visited LMU and singled out Irish Studies, saying, “These platforms connect the dynamic, modern, and innovative Ireland with this global center of creativity, this great world city, L.A.” The Emerald Isle’s vast diaspora, which is represented by so many in L.A., opens a world of historical and cultural scholarship that is being surveyed at LMU.
The webinar “Future Irelands: The Next Irish Century,” on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, brings the Irish, Angelenos, and Lions together to explore the vital roles – economic, cultural, and political – that Ireland will play in the new era of national relationships. The panelists will explore the implications of Brexit and what it means for Ireland-United Kingdom relations – that troublesome border – and Ireland’s place in European affairs. They will also delve into what kinds of cultural, economic, and demographic changes in the coming decades will shape the future for those living on the island as well as the larger Irish diaspora. The online webinar begins at noon; register here.
“Irish Studies is a vehicle for amplifying new and emerging voices,” said Dermot Ryan, associate professor of English and director of Irish Studies. “We study the rich Irish history, and that allows us to suddenly see new things, or old things in a new way.”
Joining the panel is Conor Houston, the inaugural Visiting Fellow of Irish Studies at LMU. He is a director at Houston Solutions Ltd. and has provided trusted strategic advice to senior leaders across business, government, nonprofits, and the entertainment industry. He was also governor of The Irish Times Trust, and former chair of The Ireland Fund Young Leaders Belfast. Houston also acted as a director of ShoutOut, an LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination charity.
Also taking part in the webinar are Marcella Smyth, Ireland’s Consul General to the southwestern United States; and Marion McKeone, an award-winning correspondent for the Sunday Business Post and National Irish Radio/Today FM. Ryan will serve as moderator.
“We are entering an era of new relationships,” said Houston, “and Brexit acted as a catalyst for change, even perhaps for unification. America needs to play a role in the discussion of where the future is heading, just like it did with the Good Friday Agreement. Programs such as Irish Studies can illuminate the complexity of the issues.”
Houston, who has been a solicitor advocate representing clients to the Supreme Court of both the U.K. and Ireland and has been involved in many high profile and pioneering cases, was selected by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland to be their candidate in the Strangford constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Election to be held in May 2022.
LMU’s longstanding minor in Irish Studies is an interdisciplinary program that complements a variety of majors by providing students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the historical and cultural development of the Irish people and the significance of their intellectual, artistic, spiritual, and economic contribution to world civilization, including their experiences as both a postcolonial nation and an emigrant diaspora. The program develops research and analytical skills over an array of fields of study and has presented numerous high-profile programs, such as the Irish Cultural Festival 2005-10, the 2016 commemoration of the Easter Uprising, and the annual IrelandCon since 2018. LMU has played host to many Irish dignitaries who have engaged and enlightened students.