Irish American Cultural Institute

Providing leadership and resources to preserve, interpret, and promote Irish and Irish American Cultures


Founded in 1962, the Irish American Cultural Institute (IACI) is the leading Irish American cultural organization. The IACI is a federally recognized 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit national organization devoted to promoting an intelligent appreciation of Ireland and the role and contributions of the Irish in America. The IACI is strictly apolitical and nonsectarian, and is the only Irish American organization that has as its patron, The President of Ireland.

Over the past four decades, the IACI has carved an honored place for the Irish dimension in American life. No comparable body has such an impressive track record of achievement and sustained programming.

Special Edition of Eire-Ireland Now Available

Ireland and the Contemporary

Special Issue, Spring/Summer 2017 Éire-Ireland


Ireland is often appraised as a country where the past is always present, a feature that the recent arrival of a number of important centenaries, including the hundred-year anniversary of the Easter Rising, has helped sustain. But such awareness of the past should not conceal the fact that the story of contemporary Irish economic, cultural, literary, and artistic concerns is a compelling and dynamic aspect of the country’s life that is an important topic of study in its own right.


To explore what current researchers are finding regarding contemporary Ireland, Margaret Kelleher of the School of English, Drama, and Film at University College Dublin and I proposed a special issue of Éire-Ireland focusing on this topic. We received a strong set of submissions in response to our call for contributors, and it was helpful in soliciting interesting essays that there has been a growing interest in studying contemporary Ireland evident at recent conferences and on the lecture circuit. Dr. Kelleher and I have been able to engage with scholars at gatherings like the American Conference for Irish Studies and the International Association for the Study of Literatures where new research has been presented on Ireland’s recent economic fortunes, the impact of revelations related to institutional child abuse in the educational system, and the emergence of new Irish strengths in genres of writing such as mystery and noir novels that are not traditionally associated with its literary figures. The resulting collection, which recently will have arrived in IACI members’ mailboxes, covers a broad ground with essays addressing everything from art exhibitions and novelists to the most recent explorations of Irish memory and society by way of digital projects.   

Readers who keep a close eye on Irish politics and current events can expect to seem some familiar themes, particularly the housing bubble and economic crash starting in 2007 that left a deep mark on the face of urban development (by way of the empty housing estates that became a feature of the height of the crash) and on the recent political party realignments taking place in reaction to austerity measures, water charges, and a general sense that the Irish political classes had failed the country. These forces have made their influence felt very deeply in the artistic expression of recent years. More personally, the effect of the downturn in employment, particularly on younger generations, lurks as an undercurrent in many of the essays in the ways that the return of emigration and economic uncertainty have evidently prompted creative new and disruptive forms of writing as well as renewed calls for serious political change.


As editors we were eager to encourage authors who wrote on literary topics not to confine themselves too closely to a study of one author without also considering the broader contemporary context that had influenced that author’s development. The risk in studying the contemporary, of course, is that today’s seemingly essential author will turn out to be next decade’s forgotten writer. There is virtue certainly in understanding the influence of a writer in his or her own time and place, even if that influence wanes, but we also wanted to encourage the selection of authors for study for whom a case could be made that they had truly channeled the current Irish moment. The resulting choices of writers yielded some that IACI members may have encountered frequently, such as John Banville, but also lesser-known authors who are extremely popular among various Irish audiences such as journalist Paul Howard and Irish-language writer Micheál Ó Conghaile.  


Notably absent in the issue, in part by design, was the topic of the Troubles. Undoubtedly, for years to write of contemporary Ireland was to engage with the situation in Northern Ireland. While aware that the impact of the Troubles had not disappeared with the Belfast Agreement of 1998, we were also convinced that the last ten years had included a number of compelling developments to justify the claim that modern Ireland cannot be understood predominantly—and certainly not exclusively—through the lens of the North. This was reinforced by the essays received by authors, who similarly saw contemporary Ireland in terms of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath, the revelations of the Ryan Report (2009) detailing abuse in Irish schools, and even deeper trends such as suburbanization and the campaign for gender equality. Nevertheless, with Brexit looming and the question of how the North-South border will change with the United Kingdom no longer in the European Union, one suspects that any discussion of the contemporary in coming years will see a return of the topic of Northern Ireland.


I hope members will find something of interest in one or another section of the new issue, whether it be the traditional scholarly-essay format of the first part, the reflective look at burgeoning digital history projects of the second, or the interviews and assessments of Irish publishing in the third. This extended length of this edition of Éire-Ireland is a reflection, I believe, of the interest in understanding today’s Ireland among many readers and scholars.

Limited copies of this edition are available -

Now Accepting Applications for NUI Galway Fellowship
The IACI/NUIG Visiting Fellowship in Irish Studies is made possible by joint funding from the Irish American Cultural Institute ($4000) and the National University of Ireland,Galway (€6000).  It is granted to an Irish studies scholar, typically a resident of the United States, and provides a semester (4 months or more) at the National University of Ireland-Galway. Applications are particularly welcome from emerging and established scholars in modern and contemporary Irish literature,  Irish Music Studies, and Space and Place Studies.   Learn more and apply.

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This informative e-newsletter offers members insights into Irish culture, history, and the latest happenings at the IACI. Besides providing updates on IACI programming, this publication offers feature articles, educational information, book reviews, and a wealth of other information.  It's Irish American culture, delivered straight to your e-mail inbox!  Click here to sign up!
We invite IACI members to share their stories, events, pictures, book/movie reviews, recipes, etc.    To submit material, click here.  

A Message From Our Patron

"I am delighted to be Patron of the Irish American Cultural Institute, an organisation that does such valuable work in strengthening and maintaining the important links that exist between Ireland and America.  Here in Ireland we are very proud of our wider global family, and feel a special connection with the United States who have welcomed so many generations of Irish emigrants into their communities.  We are deeply appreciative of all that the Irish American community contributes to our country, of the pride you still feel for your Irish heritage and culture and of your dedication to maintaining and showcasing that culture to other communities across the globe." 

MICHAEL D. HIGGINS, President of Ireland