Faculty Directory--Bríona Nic Dhiarmada
Professor Bríona Nic Dhiarmada
The Department of Irish Language and Literature is delighted that Dr. Bríona Nic Dhiarmada has accepted an offer to join our faculty as The Notre Dame Chair of Irish and Concurrent Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre.
In the 2007-2008 school year, Dr. Nic Dhiarmada was the inaugural Senior Fulbright Fellow, sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Republic of Ireland through National Lottery funds and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs under Minister Éamon Ó Cuív. She first joined the Department of Irish Language and Literature several years ago, in Spring semester, 2006, as the Naughton Distinguished Visiting Professor where her teaching received rave reviews. During that period, she paid careful attention to our graduate students in the Ph.D. in Literature and in the Irish Studies programs. She gave a splendid public lecture on modern Irish poetry that showed a wide-ranging understanding of contemporary poetry, both in Irish and in English. Her command of this subject, and of the history of Irish literature generally going back to medieval times, befits a scholar who has served as editor of the prestigious Field Day Anthology and general editor of the forthcoming Cambridge History of Irish Women Writers. Dr. Nic Dhiarmada’s unique ability to speak in lucid jargon-free language to a broad audience made up of both specialists and interested beginners, and--what is more difficult-- to say something that significantly enhanced the understanding of both groups. This kind of communicative talent, honed perhaps by Bríona’s years as a script writer and a media executive, is quite rare among academics in America, where there is arguably less space for the public intellectual. But it is a strength American universities will need increasingly, in making a case for the importance of arts and letters to students and to the general public.
During her first visit here, Dr. Nic Dhiarmada also took a leadership role in helping shape the direction of Notre Dame’s new Department of Irish. Along with providing astute advice on developing the curriculum for the proposed Minor in Irish Language and Literature, Bríona arranged the visit to campus of the great contemporary poet in the Irish language, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Nuala’s reading of her poetry--in Irish and in Seamus Heaney’s and Paul Muldoon’s English translations of her work--to a packed McKenna Hall Auditorium was an exciting event. As Nuala the poet said afterwards, she could sense that “all these American students were listening to me in Irish!” which she found quite remarkable. Dr. Nic Dhiarmada's own critical book Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill Téacs Baineann, Téacs Mná won the prestigious Merriman Prize for Irish Language Academic Book of the Year.
Dr. Nic Dhiarmada left the visiting professorship at Notre Dame and returned to Ireland, where she continued her academic writing and also her on-going work in scriptwriting, film and television. The author of over 35 screen plays and 10 documentaries, Bríona went on to win the 2007 Media Award for Best Television Program in Ireland. Her winning documentary, which Dr. Nic Dhiarmada wrote and directed, tracks the little-known career of an early leader in the Irish language movement in Ireland.
Bríona Nic Dhiarmada will join our permanent faculty in the fall of 2008. Her presence here will help solidify our position as the place in the world to write a dissertation on modern Irish writers.