DISCOVER: Irish Studies Club

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Ashlee Gilley

If a student is interested in special access to lecturers, a chance to gain networking skills and the opportunity to learn about as well as travel to Ireland, the Irish Studies Club can offer all of this and more.

“A large portion of the Irish people who settled in Savannah are from Wexford,” Dr. Howard Keeley, Irish native and past adviser for the Irish Studies Club, said. This is why one of the study abroad trips to Ireland has a research focus on the historical relationship between Wexford and Savannah.

Members not only network, but can “meet people you would not otherwise meet” according to Keeley. For instance this year in April they will be having their 5th distinguished talk.

The distinguished talks are when the club brings someone of importance in the Irish community to campus. This year the speaker is going to be Patricia Harty, the founder and editor of Irish America Magazine.

Harty also created the Irish Hall of Fame, which has honored people such as Hilary Clinton for her work to help with peace efforts in Northern Ireland. Harty will be giving a public lecture in April, but members of the Irish Studies Club will have the chance to interact with her more personally on a smaller scale.

Along with lectures, and networking the students also get to interact with the Irish community in our region. An event club members can go to is the annual Savannah Irish Festival which is two days full of music, vendors, and showcases.

“It’s a fun celebration of Irish and Irish American heritage,” Keeley said.

Fun Facts:

Green: We all associate St. Patrick’s Day with two things, beer and the color green. This is why it is so surprising to find out that the national color of Ireland is actually blue. The color green is most likely associated with Ireland because that is the color that supporters of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 wore.

Bowl full of Luck: The Prime Minister of Ireland is never actually in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day. Oddly enough, he visits the White House in order to present the President of the United States with a crystal bowl full of Shamrocks. President Obama will be receiving his eighth bowl of shamrocks this year. What a lucky guy!

Pinch of the Irish? Many children grew up wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day not just to celebrate, but to avoid being pinched. What does pinching have to do with the holiday? The answer is absolutely nothing. “I grew up in Ireland and we never ever had that experience. I had never heard of that until I came to America,” Keeley said.

Beer: According to Dr. Keeley the stereotype of the ‘drunk Irishman’ is offensive. The idea of drinking on St. Patrick’s Day most likely comes from how people used to meet in Public Houses, or Pubs, which people associate with drinking.