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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 Boston College's interdisciplinary Irish Studies program 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.


Paul Murray photoNovelist Paul Murray studied English and Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin (1997), then took a Master's in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia (2001).

Murray is the acclaimed author of three novels. An Evening of Long Goodbyes (2003) was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Irish Book Award. The bestselling Skippy Dies (2010) was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for various other awards including the Costa Book Awards in the UK, and in the US, the National Book Critics' Circle Award. It was named one of Time magazine's Best Books of 2010. Writing for The New York Times, Marlon James called Skippy Dies “one of the few true masterpieces of this young century.” The Mark and the Void (2015) was winner of the Bollinger Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and selected again by Time magazine for their Best Books of 2015.

Murray also wrote the screenplay for the comedy feature Metal Heart (2018), which was directed by Hugh O’Conor. His stories have appeared in Granta, The Paris Review, The New York Times and elsewhere. His new novel, The Bee Sting, will be published in August 2023 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.



Writing Workshop: Fiction
ENGL 4579-02
Mondays 02:00pm-04:25pm
Stokes Hall 476S
Enrollment limited to 15

Students in this course will study and practice elements of fiction writing: character development, point of view, voice, setting, imagery, sentence design, plot, pacing, and the use of time in a narrative. Enrollment in the course commits students to intensive writing, both in class and out, and full participation in the workshop editing process. Class time will be used for discussion of models from our anthology, in-class writing exercises, and group workshop focused on student writing. In addition to the feedback writers receive in workshop, they will meet with the instructor for editing conferences throughout the semester. Students will submit a final portfolio of polished, revised fiction.

Fiction: Second Workshop
ENGL 4580-02
By arrangement

Public Lecture:

How to Write a Novel
Wednesday, November 16, 4:30pm reception, 5:30pm lecture
; free and open to the public
Burns Library, Thompson Room

Paul Murray will read from his forthcoming novel, The Bee Sting, and talk about the highs and lows of the creative process.

The evening will begin with a wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres reception at 4:30pm in the Burns Library Irish Room. The reading will follow at 5:30pm upstairs in the Thompson Room. All are welcome. Visitors are kindly requested to observe current Boston College Covid-19 protocols. Directions, parking, and accessibility information is available on the Burns Library website.


Paul Murray Fall 2022
Eunan O'Halpin Spring 2023
Claire Connolly Fall 2023, Spring 2024
Patricia Palmer Fall 2024
Caoimhe Nic Dhaibheid Spring 2025
Paul Rouse Fall 2025
TBD Spring 2026
Claire Wills Fall 2026


Follow the link below to read about each of the more than forty 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