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John J. Burns Library


Burns Visiting Scholar

Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies

Since 1991, the Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program has brought to Boston College a long and distinguished series of academics, writers, artists, journalists, librarians, and notable public figures who have made significant contributions to Irish cultural and intellectual life. Burns Scholars teach courses, offer public lectures, and engage with the rich resources of the John J. Burns Library in their ongoing research, writing, and creative endeavors.

The Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program is a cooperative venture between the Boston College Center for Irish Programs and the Boston College Libraries. It was established by and receives continuing support from the family and friends of the Honorable John J. Burns (Class of 1921), who also generously contributed to the creation of the John J. Burns Library and support the growth of its extraordinary collections pertaining to Irish history, literature, music, and culture. The Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program has also benefited from support by the Office of the Provost.

In recognition of its 25th anniversary, Boston College Communications profiled the Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies program in a November 7, 2016 article

In October 2016, Irish America magazine also published a special supplement in celebration of this milestone. You can read a web version, or download the supplement as a high-resolution or low-resolution PDF.

Current Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies

Photo of Kevin BarryKevin Barry was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1969. He is author of the short story collections Dark Lies The Island and There Are Little Kingdoms and the novels Beatlebone and City Of Bohane. His awards include the IMPAC Dublin City Literary Award, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. His stories and essays regularly appear in The New Yorker, Granta, and in many other journals. His work has been translated into 22 languages. He also writes for the stage and screen. He now lives in County Sligo, Ireland.

See the Spring 2017 Center for Irish Programs Newsletter as well as Sean Smith's interview in the Boston College Chronicle for more about Kevin and his writings.


Public talk: "A Writer's Apprenticeship." Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 4:30pm, Burns Library Thompson Room

In his Spring 2017 Burns Visiting Scholar presentation, Barry will outline the forces, the influences, and the circumstances that have come to bear on his work as a novelist, a short story writer and a dramatist for stage and screen. He will discuss the effect of place on his work, especially the landscape and psychogeography of the west of Ireland, which has so often been the setting for his fictions. He will focus also on the excavation of memory as a primary method in his craft, and on the anxieties of influence from the Irish canon. The talk will be interspersed with short readings from his work.

Listen to an audio recording of the presentation:

Audio licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Introductory remarks were given by Christian Dupont, Burns Librarian and Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, and James H. Murphy, Interim Director, Boston College Center for Irish Programs.


Discussion and Readings: "An Evening with the Editors: A Winter Papers 2 Showcase." Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 6:00-8:00pm, Connolly House

Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith, editors of Winter Papers, will discuss the second volume of Ireland’s annual arts anthology. This thoughtfully curated and beautifully designed publication showcases a wide range of artistic talent—from literary and visual arts to essays and interviews on performing arts. This event will include reading selections from Winter Papers 2 and audience Q&A.

Spring 2017 course: Barry is teaching an undergraduate creative writing seminar during the 2017 Spring Semester (ENGL 457902 - Fiction, In Many Forms)


Follow the link below to read about each of the more than thirty Burns Visiting Scholars whom we have welcomed to campus since the program began in 1991. For several of our more recent scholars, you will find links to streaming recordings of their public lectures.

Previous Burns Visiting Scholars