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Burns Visiting Scholars


Current Visiting Scholar


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 Visiting 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 program has also benefited from support from the Office of the Provost.

In recognition of its 25th anniversary, Boston College Communications profiled the Burns Visiting Scholar program in a November 7, 2016 article.  In October 2016, Irish America magazine also published a special supplement in celebration of this milestone. Read the article or download a copy.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne - Fall 2020

Dr. Éilís Ní Dhuibhne is the Burns Scholar for Fall 2020. Born in Dublin, where she still lives, she is a writer, lecturer in creative writing, and folklorist. Her B.A. from University College Dublin was in pure English (Old, Middle and Modern). She also earned an M.Phil. in Medieval Studies and and a Ph.D. in Folklore. Her dissertation dealt with the relationship of oral tradition and literature, particularly in the work of Chaucer. Éilís has worked as an Assistant Keeper in the Manuscripts Department at the National Library of Ireland, and as a lecturer in Creative Writing and Folklore Studies at University College Dublin. Her current folklore research focuses on the early nineteenth-century collector Thomas Crofton Croker and his connection with the Brothers Grimm.

Éilís is best known as a novelist and short story writer. She has published almost thirty books, including novels, collections of stories, plays, and non-fiction. Her most recent books are Selected Stories (Dalkey Archive Press, 2018) and a memoir, Twelve Thousand Days (Blackstaff Press, 2019). Her books have been widely translated. Forthcoming publications are her seventh collection of short stories, Little Red, and a collection of autobiographical essays by Irish women writers born in the 1950s, Look! It’s a Woman Writer.

Éilís writes in both Irish and English. She has received many literary awards, including the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature, the Stuart Parker Award for Drama, and Butler Award for Prose. Her novel The Dancers Dancing was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is a well-known literary critic, reviewing regularly for the Irish Times, and a frequent adjudicator of literary competitions, most recently the 2019 Dublin International Literature Award.

As well as teaching and writing, Éilís is active in literary societies. She is president of the Folklore of Ireland Society, an ambassador for the Irish Writers’ Centre, and board member of the Joyce Centre in Dublin. She was elected a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland, in 2004, and in 2016 was inducted into the Hennessey Literary Awards Hall of Fame in 2016.

During her semester at Boston College, Éilís will facilitate a weekly creative writing seminar, focusing on fiction. She will also work on a new novel and carry out research on early Irish folklorists.


Writing Workshop: Fiction
Wednesdays, 11:30am-1:55pm
Online sychronous, enrollment limited to 15

This course provides encouragement, practice, and criticism for students seriously interested in writing short fiction. The workshop format demands self-motivation and universal participation. Since students' stories are texts for class discussion, a generous willingness to respond to others' writing and to expose one's own work to such reactions is an essential prerequisite. Individual conferences with the instructor supplement the workshop discussions. Students are expected to produce a steady stream of new and revised fiction throughout the semester. Narrative preferences from the traditional to the experimental are welcome.

Public Events:
Book launch: Little Red and Other Stories
Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 3:00pm Boston / 7:00pm Dublin
YouTube Live event: click here to watch!
[close-captioned live for the hearing impaired]

Join us on YouTube Live for a conversation with Éilís Ní Dhuibhne about her new collection of short stories, Little Red, moderated by James Smith, who teaches in the English department and Irish Studies program at Boston College. Ní Dhuibhne will also discuss her current projects, which include an anthology of autobiographical essays by Irish women writers born in the 1950s—Look! It's a Woman Writer—soon to appear from Arlen House. Little Red and Other Stories is available on Kindle and online bookstores.

The Irish Influence
Friday, October 30, 4:30pm Boston / 8:30pm Dublin

Zoom webinar: click here to join!

This Friday, Éilís will be the featured guest on the weekly Zoom discussion series hosted by BC professors Mike Cronin and Joe Nugent. This week's theme will be writing in the time of Covid. Please see further below for additional details on The Irish Influence.


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


Fearghal McGarry, Queen's University Belfast, twentieth-century historian 2021 Spring
Emilie Pine, University College Dublin literary scholar 2021 Fall
James Kelly, Dublin City University, eighteenth-century historian 2022 Spring
Paul Murray, novelist 2022 Fall