Borealis Press has just released a biography of one the greatest Irish-Americans of the twentieth century. He was a champion of the Irish language, a brilliant scholar, a personal friend of Eamon De Valera and Dorothy Day. His shadow will stretch from this side of the Atlantic to the other for the next century, at least. He was a giant, in every measurable way.
Although he may have been better known in Ireland than Minnesota, Dr. Eoin McKiernan was no stranger in the Cities. McKiernan chaired the English Department at the University of St. Thomas from 1961 – 1972. Fr. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, said “Dr. McKiernan devoted his life to, and set the standard for, Irish Studies.” Niall O’Dowd, editor of Irish America magazine and The Irish Voice, called him “one of the most powerful voices in the history of the Irish in America, a man who, perhaps more than any other, created the concept of Irish America as we know it today.”
Response to his KCTA-TV series, “Ireland Redisovered” and “Irish Diary” in the early 1960s was so overwhelming that McKiernan was inspired to found, with his wife Jeannette and philanthropist Patrick Butler, the Irish American Cultural Institute (IACI). The Insitute grew so large that he retired to direct it full time in 1972. St. Thomas generously provided housing for the IACI until a new chariman moved it east in 1995.
Published by Borealis Press (www.borealispress.com) in Ottowa, the book will shortly be available at Irish on Grand.
Deirdre McKiernan Hetzler
National Board Member, Irish American Cultural Institute
Author, Irish America Reawakening:The Eoin McKiernan Story, Borealis Press, Ottowa