Queen’s University Belfast Appoints New Chancellor

Queen's University has appointed leading Irish-American businessman and noted humanitarian, Thomas J. Moran, as its new chancellor.

A native New Yorker with ancestral roots in Fermanagh and Cavan, Tom Moran is listed as one of the top 100 Irish-American business people in the United States. He has been president and chief executive officer of the Mutual of America Life Insurance Company since October 1994, the first person to have been appointed President from within the Company.

He is also chairman of Concern Worldwide (US), Inc., an international humanitarian relief organization that operates in 30 of the poorest countries of the world. He has contributed to several humanitarian and community causes, including acting as one of a group of unofficial peace envoys to Northern Ireland throughout the 1990s.

Rotha Johnston, pro-chancellor and chair of senate, the University’s governing body, said, "I am delighted that Queen’s has chosen Tom Moran to be its new chancellor. Tom is recognized for his steadfast commitment to helping others and for his charitable, philanthropic and educational work. He joins Queen’s at an exciting time in its development and we very much look forward to the important contribution of our new chancellor."

Accepting the position, Moran said, "It is a great honor to accept the role of chancellor of this fine institution. Queen’s is known around the world as an innovative, dynamic and exceptional University that helps change lives for the better. I hope, during my time as chancellor, that I can make a positive contribution to the university’s continued success and to increase further its global impact on society." Moran will serve as chancellor for five years

Moran graduated from Manhattan College with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics. In 2006, Queen’s University awarded him an honorary doctorate of science (economics) for services to business, commerce and to public service. He and his wife Joan currently reside in New York City.

The Chancellor fulfills three main roles – a ceremonial one which involves presiding at degree congregations; an ambassadorial role, where the office holder helps to "open doors" for the university as it seeks to fulfill its mission; and finally as an advisor, available to the vice-chancellor and senior management as a "sounding board" and to provide counsel and guidance.

The Chancellors of Queen’s University Since World War II:
1949-’63  Field Marshall Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke
1963-’70 Sir Tyrone Guthrie, distinguished theatre director
1970-’83 Lord Ashby of Brandon, distinguished educationalist
1984-’91 Sir Rowland Wright, industrialist – formerly Chairman of ICI Ltd
1992-’99 Sir David Orr, industrialist and public servant – formerly chairman of Unilever and of the British Council
1999-’09 Sen. George Mitchell, US Democratic Representative and former US special envoy for Northern Ireland (1995-2001) and for Middle East Peace (2009-2011)
2009-’14 Kamalesh Sharma – Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Niamh Briggs Addresses Students at Sports Seminar

More than 350 students, teachers and coaches from schools throughout Limerick attended a major sports Coaching & Development Educational Seminar at the Millennium Theatre in Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT). 

The seminar, the theme of which was "looking after your mental and physical health." It was aimed at 16-19 year olds jointly hosted by the Mid West Regional Drugs Task Force(MWRDTF), Limerick Sports Partnership (LSP) and LIT.

Speakers included Niamh Briggs, captain of the Irish women’s rugby team and Community Guard; Catherine Norton Nutritionist with Munster Rugby; and Professor Billy O’Connor, Head of Teaching & Research in Physiology at UL’s Graduate Entry Medical.

The speakers will be joined in a panel discussion by the Coordinator of the Mid-West Regional Drugs Task Force, Gearoid Prendergast and LSP Coordinator, Phelim Macken.

"The primary purpose of this conference was to highlight the importance of collaborative approaches when dealing with substance misuse and sport and related factors such as mental health issues," commented Liam Cantwell, Youth Sports Development Officer, Limerick Sports Partnership.

"This seminar led to further interagency work between the MWRDTF, LSP, LIT and other relevant stakeholders, in promoting positive developmental information within sport as it plays such a central role within Limerick’s schools and communities," he added. 

For more information: Liam Cantwell, Limerick Sports Partnership, 087-256258

Clare Landmark Lights up the Wild Atlantic Way
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The historic Loop Head Lighthouse has been reopened to the public, looking to capitalize on its designation as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way. It exceeded the 20,368 visitors it recorded during its six-month opening period during 2014.

Clare County Council, which manages Loop Head Lighthouse in conjunction with the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), said the facility will remain open daily (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) until Oct 4, 2015.

"The lighthouse's fourth year of operation in 2014 as a visitor attraction, saw visitor figures buoyed by the development of new services at Shannon Airport, favorable weather conditions and the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way," said Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Tourism & Community, Clare County Council.

"We are confident that its status as one of Clare’s most popular visitor attractions as well as a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way will garner further interest from domestic and international visitors alike. Over its five years of operation, the lighthouse project has been a major boost to economic activity in the wider area and we would hope to further build on this" added Dollard.

Irish visitors accounted for 61% of the total visitor figure for 2014, with North America, the United Kingdom and Germany each accounting for 8% of the overall figure. Italian and French visitors meanwhile, represented just over 5% of the total figure.

Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, dates back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound.

VonMedicus, Bizzarro Featured at Monaco Conference

Artist-in-Residence: Susan Kelly vonMedicus and Scholar-in-Residence: Prof. Tina Waldeier Bizzarro were featured at the American Ireland Fund Summer School at the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco this past July. The program focused on "The History of Irish Book Illumination of the Golden Age."

"The American Ireland Fund is delighted to support these workshops exploring some of the most treasured and rare aspects of Irish tradition. Susan Kelly vonMedicus not only brings a wealth of knowledge but a unique personal connection to the legacy of HSH Princess Grace that celebrates the ties between the US and Monaco," said Kieran McLoughlin, President & CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds

"The American Ireland Fund’s support of this interdisciplinary study of the Golden Age of Irish manuscript Illumination will allow the time and place to work under the hospitality of a unique institution, the Princess Grace Irish Library. An extraordinary gift for scholars. We will endeavor to make the very best of teaching on our subject the outcome of this residency. I consider it a great honor to be able, in some small way, to continue and strengthen the triangulation, Monaco, Ireland and the United States, which my Aunt Grace forged with her remarkable person, intelligence and, yes, grace."

Topics included the difference between Ireland and the West, with an Introduction to Irish medieval books, lettering a Latin psalm and discussing will have a look at the Gospel Book of Saint Willibrord, also known as the the Echternach Gospels (circa 698 CE), called by some the "most perfect" of all medieval Irish illuminated books.

VonMedicus was born and raised in Philadelphia and educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Prosopon School of Iconology

In the mid-1970s, VonMedicus worked as a preparator (in the vaults) at the Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a formative experience, literally hands-on immersion in the structure, quality and integrity of masterworks of art. All the while developing her work as a painter, she managed a Fine Art Photography Gallery in Philadelphia in the early 1980s, making light a central theme to her work. 

In 1990, she undertook the study of traditional methods of iconography, apprenticing under master iconographer Vladislav Andrejev. Susan continues to study, work and teach in his Prosopon School of Iconology, making icons using the ancient technique of egg tempera and gold leaf on panel.

Currently, she is adjunct faculty member at Villanova University teaching Calligraphy in the Studio Art department, developing the course to include the practice of letterforms and study of text based art. 

VonMedicus spent the winter of 2013 as artist-in-residence at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughn, Co. Clare, Ireland. She explored the creative process through new techniques and applying those already mastered to new forms.

Her connections to Ireland include Newport, Co. Mayo, from where her great-grandparents immigrated to the US and where she still has cousins. Visits to Ireland over the years, including accompanying her cousin His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco on his state Visit there in 2011, helped with her studies of the art and culture of Ireland and how it can be integrated into her art-making today.

In 2000, a book of her illuminations, Letters from Heaven, an Illuminated Alphabet was published by Conciliar Press of Ben Lomond, Calif. VonMedicus has reviewed books for Living Church magazine and has done commissioned artwork for two musical recordings.

Her work is in international public and private collections, with recent commissions including an icon of St. Patrick made for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and an icon of Christ Emmanuel for the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Monaco to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Archdiocese. To be able to contribute to the continuity of the triangular connection, Ireland, Monaco and the United States forged by her aunt, Princess Grace, is enormously satisfying and a great honor and privilege, she said.

She accepts commissions, exhibits, teaches workshops and lectures. The mother of three sons, she lives and works in the Philadelphia area creating artwork and keeping a garden, chickens and bees. For more information:

Tina Waldeier Bizzarro is a full professor in the Department of History of Art at Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., as well as an Adjunct Instructor in the Irish Studies Department at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa. At Rosemont, she has been awarded Pew Grants and Connelly Grants for scholarly development, as well as the Lindback Distinguished Teacher’s Award in 2007.

Bizzarro earned her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College in History of Art, where she was the Howard Lehman Goodhart Fellow in Medieval Studies from 1978 through 1982 as well as the recipient of several Kress Fellowships during her tenure at Bryn Mawr College. Before that, she earned BA in French and Italian Language and Literatures, from the University of Pittsburgh, having spent two years at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. She was elected to "Phi Beta Kappa," America’s oldest and most widely-known Honors Society as an undergraduate scholar.

She spent six months as a Fulbright Scholar in Sicily in 2006, where she photographed and researched the roadside shrines, or edicole, which dot the countryside of southern Italy. Her Fulbright project and the title of her publication of this material will be "Wayside Warriors: The Roadside Shrines of Sicily." Her love of that hot, mysterious island led her to inaugurate, develop, and teach in her, Summer Studies Program in Messina, Sicily. 

This program ran for six summers (2000-2006), offering courses in history of art, studio art, anthropology, and history. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Travel Stipend in 1997 for her project, "French Medieval Architectural Criticism: From the Restoration through the Third Republic." She has served on peer review committees for the Fulbright Commission and for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Bizzarro’s specializes in architectural history. She has published, Romanesque Architectural Criticism: A Prehistory with Cambridge University Press, a history of the reception of medieval architecture from the fifteenth through the early 19th century. She is working on a pendant volume to this which will cover medieval architectural criticism from 1820 through 1914. 

She has also published on medieval architectural revivals or medievalism, in a lengthy article entitled "‘The Scattered Limbs of the Giant’: Recollecting Medieval Architectural Revivals" which appeared in A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, with Blackwell Press of Oxford University. A lecture that she gave in March 2006 at the University of Messina in Sicily, entitled, "Icon: Meaning and Making" was published in the Atti del Istituto dei Peloritani at the University of Messina. She has also written book reviews and many architectural biographies for the Macmillan Encyclopaedia of Architects

For the past 10 years, she has been working on Sicilian performative ritual and visual culture, researching the Sicilian performative visual culture of feste and roadside shrines. She is active on the scholarly lecture circuit in the U.S.

Her interest in and love of Ireland’s visual culture stems from her graduate school days when she began to develop courses on Ireland for Villanova University. Since then, she has regularly taught "The Art of Ireland" in Villanova’s Irish Studies Program. She has taken many student groups to Ireland to study and experience Ireland’s visual culture, from the Stone Age through the Middle Ages. Ireland has been a passion for her for most of her academic life. 

Singers, Songs of County Clare Go Online
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Clare County Library has launched its online Singers and Songs of County Clare from the Carroll Mackenzie Collection project, featuring over 400 songs from over 40 Clare singers, collected by Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie in London and West Clare over a period of 40 years.

The online collection features transcriptions of song lyrics accompanying each recording and various playlists for easy listening, as well as articles on singers and the song tradition in Co. Clare.

Speaking about the importance of this new service, Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian said: "The public library service in Co. Clare offers a wide range of music for lending throughout the county, and has offered a strong traditional music collection in its branch library in Miltown Malbay for many years. This new addition to the website demonstrates the library service’s continuing commitment to preserving and promoting the rich musical traditions of Co. Clare."

In September, 2012, Clare County Library launched the first part of its online "Music of Clare" section on the library website, featuring a selection of traditional Irish tunes commonly associated with Co. Clare, where people could listen to traditional tunes associated with Co. Clare, played by musicians who are from the county or who have lived in it for many years. Also included were transcriptions of the featured tunes, to help people learn the basic notes of the featured tunes.

"Shortly after launching the traditional Irish music project, we received a phone call from Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie offering us a collection of recordings they had made of Irish singers from the early 1970s to the present day", said Anthony Edwards, project manager and Senior Executive Librarian.

"Of course we had no idea of the huge extent of their collection, begun in the singers’ clubs of London and continued in the cottages of west Clare. From the enormous collection of files covering songs, music, stories and folklore we selected just over 400 songs sung by Clare singers, and did transcriptions of the song lyrics to accompany each recording, and developed various playlists for easy listening also," added Mr. Edwards.

Launching the project in Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery, Cllr. Pat Hayes, Chair of Clare County Council’s Cultural, Arts, Community, Recreation and Amenity Services Strategic Policy Committee, thanked Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie on behalf of the people of Clare for their generosity in "making their life’s work available to the library, and the library staff for making such wonderful use of the material".

"The Singers and Songs of County Clare project re-enforces Clare County Council’s strong commitment to the arts and culture of Clare", he said.

Featured singers included Martin Reidy (1901-1985) from Tullaghaboy, "a solitary bachelor eking out a living on his mountain farm after his parents death and the other members of the family had scattered to the four winds"; Michael ‘Straighty’ Flanagan (1893-1987) from Inagh, who was photographed by American photographer Dorothea Lange in the 1950s; and Tom Lenihan (1905-1990) from Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay, whose memory was such that "on a number of occasions, after a little probing, he faultlessly remembered and sang a song which he said he had not sung for some 40 years or more and had forgotten he ever knew".

The project is also enhanced by the addition of articles on singers and the song tradition, and by the inclusion of some of the all-too-few video recordings of Clare singers available on YouTube.

Singers and Songs of County Clare from the Carroll Mackenzie Collection is now live on Clare County Library’s website at



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