Dr James Heaney Attends January residency of the Mfa in Creative Writing programme offered by Carlow University, Pittsburgh

Earlier this year, Dr James Heaney attended the January residency of the Mfa in Creative Writing programme offered by Carlow University, Pittsburgh. 2024 marks the twentieth anniversary of this ground-breaking course of studies which – from 2005 to 2010 – held its summer residences, here, in Carlow College/St Patrick’s.

During his visit to Pittsburgh, Dr Heaney presented a public lecture on the subject of Irish and North American literary/political inter-connections, entitled: ‘“Attempting impossible things”: Literature and Revolution in Modern Irish and U.S. Contexts’. He also helped to launch 20 Anthology: a book-collection of poetry, short-fiction, and essays by some of the many graduates and writers who have been associated with this Creative Writing programme since 2005. Dr Heaney continues to teach on the course, as well as conduct tours of Joycean Dublin and Yeats’ Sligo for its students, each summer. His own contribution to the 20 Anthology reviews some of the literary, cultural, and social highlights of the programme’s residencies in Carlow, Dublin, and Sligo, over the last two decades. 

The connections between Carlow University, Pittsburgh and Carlow College, Ireland, date back to the mid-nineteenth century. In 1837, the then president of Carlow College, Fr. Andrew Fitzgerald, was instrumental in bringing the recently-founded Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy to Carlow where they established St. Leo’s Convent (in 1837). It was from Carlow that Mother Frances Warde and six sisters left for Pittsburgh, where they founded the first Mercy community in the United States (1843). A few years later, in 1947, they set up the first permanent hospital in the city of Pittsburgh (serving the needs of all, irrespective of gender, race, or religion). The sisters also promoted the education of women, from pre-school through to graduate-level, and in 1929, founded the college known today as Carlow University.

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Photo 1: James with Richard Blanco (selected by President Obama as the fifth Presidential Inaugural Poet in U.S. history, and a teacher on the Mfa programme)

 

Photo 2: James with some students, graduates and staff of the Mfa in Creative Writing Programme on the occasion of the 20 Anthology book-launch. (Included in the photo are Ann Kaiser (poet), Lou Boyle, PhD (Professor of English at Carlow University), and Richard Blanco (poet). 

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