The Golden State’s connection to the Emerald Isle runs deep, and on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, Loyola Marymount University welcomed a group of Irish dignitaries to discuss future projects and collaborations between academic, civil, and business leaders in Ireland and California.
Secretary General Joe Hackett, Ireland’s highest-ranking diplomat, visited the Westchester campus joined by Marcella Smyth, consul general of Ireland, and Ciara Delaney, from Ireland’s Embassy in Washington, D.C. The delegation met with LMU Chancellor Mike Engh, S.J., Dean Robbin Crabtree of LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, and LMU Irish Studies Director Dermot Ryan.
“It’s such an exciting time to be directing the Irish Studies program here at LMU,” said Ryan. “It really feels like Ireland and all things Irish are having a moment in Los Angeles.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, 31.5 million Americans claim Irish ancestry and Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange counties rank in the top 10 counties by estimated population who claim Irish ancestry. The cultural and artistic ties between Ireland and the United States are longstanding, but our economic and trade ties are growing as well. There are more than 270 West Coast-headquartered companies operating in Ireland, employing 46,540 people; and in California, Ireland ranks seventh in terms of foreign-owned enterprises. LMU’s Irish Studies Program, the only one of its kind in Southern California, is uniquely poised to play a role in strengthening present and future relations between Southern California and Ireland.
“We’ve had the establishment of an Irish Consulate in L.A.,” said Ryan, adding, “the growing number of collaborations between Irish and American filmmakers, as is evident from the success of several Irish films including those nominated for Oscars this year; and more broadly the growing presence of Irish entrepreneurs in Silicon Beach which LMU’s campus overlooks.”
The growing relationships between the film and media industries in Ireland and Los Angeles was very much a focus of the meeting and discussion. This year, Irish film projects have received the most Oscar nominations ever while an ever-increasing number of American film and television projects are being produced in Ireland. During the visit, the secretary general also recognized LMU’s Irish Studies Program as a valued partner of the consulate and celebrated its receipt of funding from the prestigious Emigrant Support Program and the opportunity LMU’s DeVere Scholarship offers LMU students to study in Ireland.
“Secretary General Hackett’s visit feels like both a recognition of the role LMU has played in fostering relationships between Ireland and L.A. — whether that has been hosting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar or hosting Ireland Week — and a commitment to work with LMU to identify future opportunities and partnerships that can benefit our students and the community at large,” said Ryan.