Academic Programs

Irish Politics 

Since 2010, UMass Lowell has offered a course in Irish Politics. 

For students of Politics, Ireland is perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of a territory that has undergone, and continues to undergo dramatic transformations in its governing structures, its passionate struggles for freedom, civil wars, colonial resistance and modern nationalism.

This class studies the political history of Ireland before and during its time as a part of the United Kingdom, through the partition of the island into two states, and up to the modern politics of both the Republic of Ireland and the British state of Northern Ireland. Students will examine the results of the 1998 "Good Friday Agreement". Then dissect and evaluate modern Irish institutions of government, in the Republic and in the North. Students will research the competing ideologies and present arguments supporting the parties and organizations that propound these ideologies, like Sinn Fein, the IRA, the Uster Unionist Party and Unionist paramilitaries in the North; the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in the South.

American Studies

UMass Lowell offers and excellent course in American Studies that may appeal to Irish students interested in seeking greater knowledge of American history, politics, literature, music and the arts. 

Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program: 

In 1822 a group of 30 Irish laborers led by Hugh Cummiskey arrived in the new industrial town of Lowell to assist with the excavation of the Pawtucket and Merrimack canals. By 1831 their numbers had swelled to over 400 and Kirk Boott, mill manager, had donated a plot of company land for a Catholic church – St. Patrick’s Church. This event marked the permanent settlement of the Irish in the town, with the area around the church becoming known as the “Irish Acre,” the “Paddy Camps” or “New Dublin”.

Harry DrawingIn August of 2010, archaeologists from Queen’s University Belfast, undertook a first-ever historical archaeological dig on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Church in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood, site of the first Irish habitation in the 1820s. Led by the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s: Dr. Colm Donnelly, Dr. Harry Welsh, and Ronan McHugh oversaw the excavation in collaboration with six UMass Lowell students.  The team discovered over 1,300 artifacts from the period. Students were able to unearth evidence of early Irish immigrants who flocked to the city in the early 1800s. Artifacts recovered included: rosary beads, clay pipes, oyster shells, animal bones, nails, pottery shards, bottles, and metal work - providing clues to the history of the first wave of Irish immigrants who settled in the city’s Acre neighborhood.

In the three years that followed, the team expanded the scope to include one week of excavation at St. Patrick’s Church in Lowell and one week excavation in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, at the site of the Hugh Cummiskey homestead that students from UMass Lowell had the opportunity to participate in.

Surveying with RonanThe Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program enables students to gain a deeper understanding of the life of the Irish before and after the Great Irish Famine and the role played by the Irish in the development of America during the 19th century. It provides students with a unique opportunity to participate in a global program that will increase their understanding of a particular monument, the period in which it belongs, and their knowledge of the archaeology of the region in which it is set. Finally, it provides students with an international experience and perspective needed to succeed as leaders and decision makers in a global society.

Launching partnerships such as the one this Program represents creates new bridges for global citizenship. Our partnership with Queen’s University enables us and our students to go beyond what each university can do on its own, while enhancing teaching and research.

Student Testimonials 

"Studying abroad was one of the best experiences I've had in my life to date. The classes at Queen's University were fantastic and all touched on issues that I was interested in and topics I want to study throughout my career, such as the role of race and ethnicity, asylum and migration, and postcolonial history. Not only that, I got to travel throughout Europe and got the chance to live with people from all over the world. Because of my experiences studying abroad, I have been encouraged to apply to graduate schools in International or Global Development throughout Europe. I could not be more grateful to have had the experience, both for the people I got to meet and the places I got to see."

-Nicholas Gates, Queen’s University Semester Abroad participant

“This was an experience out of this world...or at least out of the country. Having the opportunity to experience archaeology with amazing and highly entertaining professionals, and learning what really lies in the ground beneath our feet really opened my eyes up to looking at the world in a different way. Seeing how the dig connected a story from Lowell to Northern Ireland showed me how amazing the discovery of history is, and how the smallest item is significant. As an engineering student, this was an adventure outside of my daily routine, and it was an experience full of wonderful people, learning, and traveling that I would not trade for anything else.”

-Marcelle Durrenberger, Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program participant 2012

"This is one of the best experiences of my college career, participating in the Irish-American Archeological gave me real-world experience along with seeing history at my fingertips"

-Katherine Henckler, Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program participant 2012

It was an absolutely amazing experience. It was two weeks I know I'll never forget and I would love to have the chance to do it all over again. Not only because the archaeological dig was so fascinating to me, but the people that we interacted with along the way were some of the nicest people I've ever met, and even though we were only with them for a total of 2 weeks during this experience, they've made a big impact on me nonetheless. The memories I've made with professionals in the field and the things I've learned while digging in the dirt are things that will stick with me forever.

-Ami Krawczyk, Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program participant 2012

“I signed up for the International Summer School at Queen's because coming from Irish decent I never really knew or understood all the troubles that took place over there, and wanted a clearer understanding of it all. When asked what my favorite memory was, I would have to day that every single second I spent there was my favorite memory. I had the best experience of my life with what started out as complete strangers but some to this day are some of my best friends and they are from California, Texas, Oregon, etc., and I still talk to and see them whenever I can. We all meet up in New York City twice since we have been back in America.  Also the Irish are the nicest and kindest people on this planet, they made me feel at home there in every way, and they went out of their way to please everyone in the group. In short, it was the greatest experience of my life.”

- Mark Bresnihan, '11, Criminal Justice, Lexington, Mass. 

“I enrolled in a class called, "Problems of Modern Ireland" with Dr. Lipchitz, and I loved it! After that, I wanted to learn more about the history of Ireland and Northern Ireland and this program seemed like the best way to do that. The faculty at the Irish Studies Institute were excellent. The seminars were fantastic, the field trips outstanding! I loved everything about it: the accommodations, the city, the activities, meeting new friends, etc. It was an unforgettable academic experience! I highly recommend it! I'm so glad I was able to take part in the university's first group going!” 

- Maria Millett, '10, History major and Latin American Studies minor, Bradford, Mass.