The book prize recipients for books published in 2019 have been announced!
The following was compiled by ACIS Web Intern, Molly Murphy.
The James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences is awarded to an outstanding book on the subject of Irish history and social sciences in honor of lifelong historian and educator James S. Donnelly, Sr.
This year’s recipient of the James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences is Brendan O’Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, for A Treatise on Northern Ireland from Oxford University Press (three volumes).
O’Leary is extremely happy to see his work judged worthy of this award. “For most professors, the recognition of one’s peers is more important than money or fame,” says O’Leary. “To be recognized by professors from other disciplines is especially sweet.”
O’Leary felt “chuffed” to receive the award, but he says that the news was just as exciting for his uncle Dr. Diarmuid Ó Mathúna (1934-). “He is a mathematician and scholar of Irish, and a founding member of the ACIS who attended its inaugural meeting in 1960. He recalls its prime movers as ‘Donnelly, McCaffrey, and my friend Emmet Larkin.’ He wrote to me, ‘Nothing delights me more than your recognition, Sláinte, Diarmuid.’”
Duais Leabhar Taighde na Bliana/ACIS Prize for Books in the Irish Language is awarded in the interest of preserving and celebrating books written in the Irish language. As an integral part of the Irish-American experience, the Irish language is nurtured by both speakers and writers alike, which ACIS seeks to highlight with this award.
This year’s recipient of the Duais Leabhar Taighde na Bliana/ACIS Prize for Books in the Irish Language is writer, editor, and translator Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh for his book Ainm na Saoirse: Gaeilge Dháil Éireann, 1919-22 published by Coiscéim: Baile Átha Cliath in 2019.
Ó Cathasaigh “was delighted to hear about the prize, because it’s encouraging to receive public recognition from such a prestigious source for my work. Writing in Irish, a minority language with limited resources behind it, such appreciation is especially welcome.”
Ó Cathasaigh is especially glad to receive an award that celebrates the Irish language. “As support for non-fiction writing in Irish is thin on the ground, Duais Leabhar Taighde na Bliana plays a very valuable role. In sponsoring the prize, the American Conference of Irish Studies is continuing a proud tradition of American support for writing in Irish which goes back to the earliest days of the revival.”
The Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture is awarded in honor of former ACIS treasurer Michael J. Durkan whose love of Irish literature and language informed his lengthy career in library studies. The prize is given to an outstanding book on the subject of Irish language or culture.
This year’s recipient is Sinéad Moynihan, Associate Professor in American and Atlantic Literatures at the University of Exeter, for her book Ireland, Migration and Return Migration: The ‘Returned Yank’ in the Cultural Imagination, 1952 to Present from Liverpool University Press.
“I am absolutely thrilled to win this prestigious award,” says Moynihan. “I have presented at ACIS conferences—regional and national, in the U.S. and Ireland—for many years since my first trip to the regional New England conference at UMass (Boston) in 2007. Indeed, I organised a panel on the “Returned Yank” at ACIS in New Orleans in 2012.”
“It was a particular pleasure, then, to have my work recognised by academic peers that I hold in such high esteem,” she continues. “Heartfelt thanks to Liverpool UP for their wonderful support throughout the publishing process—and for putting my book forward for the award. I also want to thank the ACIS committee for all their hard work in reading and assessing so much material. It’s a huge time commitment and is much appreciated.”
The Donald Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Books is awarded to the first published book of an outstanding scholar. This year this prize is awarded to Amy Mulligan of the University of Notre Dame for her book A Landscape of Words: Ireland, Britain, and the Poetics of Space, 700-1250, Manchester University Press, 2019.
Mulligan says she has not stopped grinning since she found out she won the award. “Especially given the other books that have won this award, it is such a huge honor to have my book recognized in this way.”
Mulligan is also happy to see books on medieval Ireland being celebrated. “I’m particularly excited to have a book on medieval Ireland, and the literature and language of the pre-modern period, recognized,” she says.” I’ve been really invested in overcoming period-based scholarly borders, and was careful to write this book to appeal to scholars working in the post-medieval period as well, so I’m very pleased and flattered that my book on placelore in the Irish Middle Ages is speaking to the wider Irish Studies audience.”
Mulligan would also like to thank those who helped make this dream a reality. “So many colleagues helped me along the way, especially those in the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame,” she says. “Fellowships from the NEH and Fulbright US-UK Foundation, which allowed me to spend a year writing the book at University of Nottingham and doing research in Ireland, Scotland and England, were also so important, and I’m very thankful for that support!”
The Robert Rhodes Prize for Books on Literature is awarded to an outstanding book on Irish literature, in honor of a founding ACIS member whose distinguished education career included an extensive love of literature and the academic work that celebrates it.
This year, the Robert Rhodes Prize for Books on Literature is awarded to Dr. Mary L. Mullen of Villanova University for her book Novel Institutions: Anachronism, Irish Novels and Nineteenth-Century Realism from Edinburgh University Press.
“It was such an incredible honor to learn that I won this award,” Dr. Mullen says. “ACIS was the very first academic conference that I attended as a masters student, so it is especially meaningful to receive recognition from an organization that has been so formative for me.”
As the world faces uncertain times, Dr. Mullen finds herself thinking about the world’s unquestioned institutions—and the power of literature to challenge them. “One of the central arguments of the book is that while institutions are often constraining—teaching us to understand the future as merely an extension of the present—we can inhabit them in ways that allow us to imagine the future otherwise. In these unsettling times when nothing feels quite right, I hope my book encourages ACIS members to desire more than a return to normalcy and remain committed to enacting a more just social order.”
“Writing is an inherently social act,” she continues, “so I thank all of the people who made this book possible through conversations at ACIS conferences, their own written work, and their support of my research.”
The Adele Dalsimer Prize for Distinguished Dissertations is awarded to an outstanding Irish Studies dissertation in honor of Adele Dalsimer, a pioneer of the Irish Studies field committed to training and uplifting scholars and teachers in the field.
This year’s Adele Dalsimer Prize for Distinguished Dissertations is awarded to Daphne Dyer Wolf of Drew University, in Madison, NJ for her dissertation “Two Windows: The Tenants of the De Freyne Rent Strike, 1901–1903.”
Wolf says she was “really pleased and honored” to learn she had received the prize. “While writing my dissertation I often felt I was working in a vacuum, that I was my only audience, and that it was all ultimately pointless,” she says. “I was okay with that, actually, but this is much, much nicer.” She would like to offer her “many thanks to the ACIS prize committee.”