The Center for Irish Research and Teaching (CIRT) flies the flag for Ireland and advances Irish America in the 320,000-student University System of Georgia. An academic and outreach unit of Georgia Southern University, CIRT is proud to call historic Savannah, Georgia, its home. Productively blending native-Irish and Scots-Irish narratives since its founding in 1733, Savannah is undoubtedly the most Irish city in the Southeastern United States. CIRT researches and teaches the Irish past of Savannah in particular and Georgia in general. It also links Georgia to present-day, future-directed Ireland through such means as two study-in-Ireland programs and a TradeBridge® initiative with the Savannah Economic Development Authority/World Trade Center Savannah.
Committed to the principle of the University Without Walls, CIRT boasts a stellar and continuing record of service to stakeholder communities in Savannah, across Georgia, and into the South Carolina Low Country.
This website highlights activities on the part of CIRT not funded by the university. Those activities constitute the lion's share of the unit's work. To begin exploring and — we hope — partnering with CIRT, please make a selection from the following list of focal areas. Just click a given "pink link" to access the specified content.
Founded on St. Patrick's Day 1995, the Center for Irish Research and Teaching (CIRT) is an academic and outreach unit of Georgia Southern University, a 27,000-student public university with campuses in Savannah, Statesboro, and Hinesville: cities in the Coastal Region of the State of Georgia, USA. In the Irish language (Gaeilge), CIRT's name is: An tIonad um Thaighde agus Theagasc Éireannacha.
To advance its mission, CIRT relies entirely on stakeholder donations and external grants. It has never received direct funding — that is, an Educational and General (E&G) budget line — from the university. Neither does its director benefit from course releases or receive tenure-and-promotion consideration in regard to such necessary tasks as:
• administering the program;
• raising operational and development funds through grant-writing and donor-cultivation;
• organizing and running (usually on a pro bono basis) multi-week, full-credit Study-in-Ireland programs;
• mentoring students who concentrate in Irish Studies and/or participate in Study-in-Ireland programs;
• creating public lectures, concerts, and other events that attract (on average) over 3,000 people per year;
• producing around 100 pages annually in assessment reports.
Goal ONE • Flagship Unit
Proud of the State of Georgia's exceptional Irish history and culture — and mindful of the vitality of Georgia's present-day economic relationships with Ireland — the Center for Irish Research and Teaching aims to be the flagship Irish Studies unit in the University System of Georgia (USG), a community of 26 public colleges and universities that serves around 320,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Goal TWO • Comprehensive Curriculum
Embracing the ideal that, for each discipline, a semester-by-semester sequence of full-credit courses should be available across a two-year span, the Center for Irish Research and Teaching strives to offer a comprehensive suite of courses in Irish and Irish-American Studies that includes but also exceeds the traditional focus on the arts, humanities, and political science. As the world-leading economy in attracting Foreign Direct Investment — and, furthermore, as a major player in information technology, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, financial services, and other advanced sectors — Ireland offers potent case studies and desirable professional networks for students in such fields as computer science, biochemistry, med-tech engineering, global business, and the internet of things.
Goal THREE • Ireland Campus
To further USG's core objectives of "linking the University System with other parts of the world" and “providing the international perspective and cross-cultural competence required for Georgians to participate fully and effectively as leaders in a global society,” the Center for Irish Research and Teaching aspires to develop and maintain for Georgia Southern University — and that entity's sibling institutions — a facility in Ireland comparable to Kennesaw State University's Montepulciano campus in Italy and the University of Georgia's Oxford campus in England.
Goal FOUR • Intensified Engagement
Committed to the economic and cultural advancement of Georgia's Coastal Region, the Center for Irish Research and Teaching seeks to make more complete, effective, and sustainable its service to stakeholders, both new and well-established. The latter coterie includes but is not limited to: multiple Irish-heritage organizations in the Savannah-Hilton Head zone; the Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee; the Savannah Economic Development Authority/World Trade Center Savannah; and the Atlanta-based Consulate of Ireland for the Southeastern United States.
Gaol FIVE • Financial Autonomy
With an entrepreneurial ethos, the Center for Irish Research and Teaching pushes to attain fiscal self-sufficiency by securing endowments, the interest on which can fully fund, on an annual basis: the unit's operating expenses; at least five study-in-Ireland scholarships; at least five other Irish Studies scholarships; a scholar-in-residence position; and two named professorships. It also endeavors to obtain the gift of a historic building in the city of Savannah so it can partner with various private and public entities to establish that space as an Irish Cultural Hub or Institute for Savannah, the most Irish city in the Southeastern United States.
To make the Center for Irish Research and Teaching possible, tax-deductible donations remain vital. Although an E&G budget request was submitted to the relevant oversight administrator (the Dean of the former College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) annually every academic/financial year from 1995-96 to 2017-18, no funds were allotted. Given the above challenge, CIRT maintains a limited, strategically designed range of accounts at the Georgia Southern University Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation. Six in number, the accounts are listed below. To contribute, click here to open the Foundation's online giving portal. In the dialogue box labelled "Processing Instructions," type the number and name of the Irish Studies account you wish to support — and thank you.
To discuss a potential gift, please contact the CIRT director directly by email: firstname.lastname@example.org; (912) 478-0221. Alternatively, you are most welcome to interface with Trip Addison, Vice President for University Advancement and External Affairs, who is also President of the Georgia Southern University Foundation: email@example.com; (912) 478-5331.
Fund 0496 • Irish Studies General Fund
Fund 0777 • Fred and Donna Sanders for Irish Studies Lectures and Performances
Fund 0968 • Wexford-Savannah Axis Research Fund
Fund 3760 • Helen Ryan Collins Memorial Scholarship in Irish Studies
Fund 3604 • Eddie Ivie Scholarship for Study in Ireland
Fund 0650 • Dr. Gary B. Sullivan Irish Studies Scholarship
Honest Disclosure: How Georgia Southern Manages Your Donation
Several donors have asked for a gift-management statement on our website, and we are delighted to oblige. In general, 95% of your donation is transferred directly to the Center for Irish Research and Teaching. In other words, the Georgia Southern University Foundation assesses a 5% gift-reinvestment fee on non-endowed gifts. This one-time fee is applied to a gift at the end of the month during which it’s received. The 5% fee is redirected to college development officers to support their travel expenses and to pay for alumni-relations events and donor-relations activities. In the case of endowed funds (such as the Eddie Ivie Scholarship for Study in Ireland), a 1% service fee based on the account’s fair market value is assessed by the Foundation on July 1 each year to support the university’s operational needs related to philanthropic growth.
The year 2018 marks the tenth anniversary of CIRT's provision of study-in-Ireland programs. A decade ago, CIRT conceived of and created the five-week, full-credit program called Summer Term Ireland®, which it rendered viable by partnering with the European Council of the University System of Georgia and Waterford Institute of Technology, a doctoral-research university in Waterford, Ireland's oldest city. That initiative continues, and has thus far served in excess of 550 University System of Georgia students.
As regards designing, recruiting for, and executing Summer Term Ireland®, no single participating unit has provided more leadership than CIRT. Howard Keeley PhD — CIRT's Director (through June 30, 2018) — reflects, "We're proud of this program. Regularly, student assessments of it use such phrases as 'life-changing' and 'my best college experience.' There's no doubt that CIRT worked tirelessly over many years to shape the program's value-added learning model, which continues to empower Georgia Southern and other University System of Georgia students with participative educational opportunities in Waterford City and its hinterland."
Each student selects two courses from a menu of ten choices. Many of the offerings are specifically Ireland-focused, such as the upper-division courses, Revolutionary Ireland, 1913-1922 and Doing Business in and with Ireland. Each of the remaining courses has significant Irish and/or Irish-diaspora content. Consider, for example, the lower-division course, World Literature since 1650: Irish Emphases, whose students engage in a variety of field experiences. Perhaps the most popular is a one-day trip to the coastal village of Ardmore in County Waterford to assess how Molly Keane, who lived there for 50 years, incorporated the place into her masterpiece Good Behavior, a novel from 1981. En route to Ardmore, the students enjoy a visit to nearby Coláiste na Rinne (Ring College), a renowned center for Irish-language instruction, founded in 1905. Another instance of value-added learning: students in the lower-division course, Introduction to Marketing, embed for a day with top professionals in the sales-and-marketing division of Waterford Crystal, the definitive luxury-glass brand, whose HQ occupies a portion of Waterford City's Viking Triangle district.
Beginning in 2014, CIRT developed an additional full-credit study-in-Ireland program: Savannah-Ireland Inquiry®. Its overarching goal is to give high-achieving undergraduate students enrolled at Georgia Southern University a chance to participate in primary-source research connected with a world-class scholarly project. Over three weeks in Savannah and two subsequent weeks in Ireland, the students find and analyze archival material that helps illuminate the mid-nineteenth-century transatlantic trade-and-migration pathway that operated between County Wexford, Ireland, and Savannah, Georgia.
Since its establishment in 1733, Savannah has had significant Irish connections. When James Oglethorpe founded the city and the greater Georgia Colony, much underwriting of the original settlers' transatlantic passage came from an Irish nobleman, the Earl of Abercorn (hence the north-south Abercorn Street in Savannah). Later — on St. Patrick's Day 1812 — Presbyterian Irish merchants were the driving force behind the creation of the Hibernian Society of Savannah, which sought to "tender the aid of a delicate charity" to appreciable numbers of poor, mainly Catholic Irish newcomers then entering the city. That organization is still extant and maintains its charitable mission.
However, during "prime time" for Irish immigration into Savannah, from the late 1840s to the mid-1850s, around 56% of those arriving came directly on vessels from New Ross and Wexford Town, ports in the county of Wexford in southeastern Ireland. To this day, Wexford family names (such as Corish, Doyle, Kehoe, Rossiter, and Stafford) feature prominently in Savannah. Until recently, though, the story of the Wexford-Savannah Axis had become all but lost to history.
Having been successfully selected, by an essay-and-interview process, to participate in the Savannah-Ireland Inquiry® program, our smart and committed Georgia Southern students work painstakingly at the Georgia Historical Society, the Wexford County Archive, and other venues to rediscover the fine details of the Wexford-Savannah narrative. By means of traditional and web publications and public-history events and exhibits, the young scholars are beginning to restore this important trade, migration, and integration story to the people of Savannah and Georgia, as well as their "Green Atlantic" cousins in and beyond Wexford.
While many citizens of Ireland automatically think of Irish America in terms of Boston, New York, and Chicago, this project is expanding their knowledge by helping to reveal the American South as consequentially Irish, too. By 1860, around a quarter of Savannah's non-slave population was Irish by birth, so it's perhaps little wonder that the city hosts the second-largest — and the best — St. Patrick's Day in North America.