17 May 2006

McAleese pays homage to first president


17/05/2006 - 06:46:21

President Mary McAleese has announced a €30,000 gift for a new Irish studies programme at the University of Montana, describing it as a thank you for hospitality shown a century ago to the man who became Ireland’s first president.

Douglas Hyde came to Montana seeking help in saving the Irish language from extinction under British rule. The language scholar found thriving pockets of the Gaelic language in immigrant communities and received emotional and financial support from the state, Ms McAleese said in her speech.

Calling the Hyde connection a “lovely synchronicity”, she announced the gift from the Government at a ceremony that officially launched the Irish studies programme and opened a formal academic partnership with University College Cork (UCC).

“I came to say thank you to Ireland's family and friends in Montana,” said President McAleese in her speech. “Ireland is privileged to have such family, such friends, such champions.”

Courses in the University of Montana’s Irish studies programme will include language, literature and history and students will have the opportunity to study at the UCC.

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