First Chair in Modern Irish Studies

A leading Samuel Beckett scholar and literary critic has taken up a prestigious new position at UNSW.

McDonald Ronan inside

Professor Rónán McDonald, a leading Samuel Beckett scholar, literary critic and historian of Irish modernism, has been appointed as the Australian Ireland Fund Chair in Modern Irish Studies at UNSW.

Professor McDonald is the Director of the newly established John Hume Institute in Global Irish Studies based in UNSW's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The Institute is the result of the first Australian partnership with University College Dublin, which established the original John Hume Institute in 2007.

A native of Dublin, Professor McDonald was most recently Director of the Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading in the UK and has extensive teaching experience in the field of Irish literature. He is a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian, and author of Death of the Critic.

The intention to create a Chair in Modern Irish Studies was announced at the Sydney Opera House in 1998 by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor James Donald, expressed his gratitude to the Australian Irish community for their extraordinary efforts to raise funds for the position.

"I am especially pleased that we have established the Chair in a way that enhances UNSW's research capacity and at the same time consolidates a partnership with the original John Hume Institute at University College Dublin," Professor Donald said.

The new Institute will conduct research on modern Irish history, culture and politics and aims to foster understanding of the Irish diaspora and its contribution to the making of modern Australia.

Professor McDonald said: "Ireland maintains an exemplary status - it was the first country to decolonise, to become a free state and to experience partition. Historically and politically Ireland is of comparative interest, globally."

Professor McDonald will take part in a panel discussion presented by UNSW at the Sydney Writers' Festival - 'Ireland to and from Australia: The Imaginative Connection'.

The University of New South Wales is the first university to be named a partner of the Sydney Writers' Festival, the result of a successful bid by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Media contact: Fran Strachan | 93858732 | 04294 16070 |