upei Ireland

Photo: UPEI’s Erin Rowan (right) with Dr. Lisha O’Sullivan and Dr. Emer Ring of the Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies at Mary Immaculate College, along with Dr. Ring’s daughter Iseult in Cill Rialaig, a famine village in County Kerry, Ireland.

James M. Flaherty Research Scholarship commemorates Canada’s former Finance Minister

Charlottetown, PEI (June 7, 2016)—Erin Rowan, a Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) student at UPEI, has been awarded a prestigious James M. Flaherty Research Scholarship from the Ireland Canada University Foundation. The scholarship honours the memory of Canada’s former finance minister who identified strongly and publicly with his Irish heritage. The award allowed Rowan to travel to Ireland to pursue her research into Irish identity and how it is linked to the memory of the Great Famine.

“Prince Edward Island has strong cultural roots with Ireland,” said Dr. Jim Randall, coordinator of the MAIS program at UPEI. “This scholarship has allowed Erin to immerse herself in Irish and island identity in order to gain a much richer understanding of an important island culture, past and present.”

Rowan is working with Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe of Mary Immaculate College at the University of Limerick. Her research will dig into the Great Famine, the resulting outmigration, and its impact on island identity and Ireland’s “islandness”.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to travel to Ireland for my research,” said Rowan. “The chance to meet with locals face to face as well as visit important historical sites has allowed me to measure the ways in which the folk memories of the Great Famine are present in modern Ireland.”

Rowan’s scholarship allowed her to conduct first-person interviews in County Kerry to add greater description and personal colour to her research data. Collective identity, though applied to a larger group, is a deeply personal concept with strong connection to personal experience, thus making interviews essential.

The Ireland Canada University Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established in 1993 for the purpose of encouraging and facilitating academic links between institutions and scholars in both Ireland and Canada.