The Catholic University of America

March 13, 2015

Irish Culture Thrives at CUA

  CUA's Celtic Cardinals

A few weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, the CUA Gaels (Catholic University’s Irish culture club) sold green T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Irish Catholic Pride” in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. Those three words capture the enthusiasm for all things Irish at Catholic University.

Throughout the year, the CUA Gaels host events to educate students on subjects such as Irish language and dance. The Celtic Cardinals, the University’s Irish step dancing team, have competed in the first two years of the Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival at Villanova University and are often invited to perform at CUA events, such as Relay for Life.

One of the Celtic Cardinals, senior Allison Wetterauw, even became a minor celebrity in Ireland last year when she competed in the 2014 Rose of Tralee International Festival, which brings together women from all over the world for five days to celebrate what it means to be a modern Irish woman. The festival features several events, including a competition among 32 young women to be crowned the Rose of Tralee. That event is televised by Irish TV station RTE and is watched by approximately 2 million people nationwide.

On St. Patrick’s Day, students will pack the Great Room of the Pryzbyla Center for the Luck of the Irish Casino Night, an annual tradition at CUA. That same evening, there will also be a reading on campus with Irish poet and translator Desmond Egan.

In the classroom, students have options to pursue their interest in Irish culture. Last year, the University launched a certificate in Irish studies. To complete the certificate, students are required to take two courses in Irish language as well as courses in Irish literature and history. Gregory Baker, assistant professor of English and director of Irish studies, teaches courses focused on some of Ireland’s most famous writers. The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures offers popular courses in Irish language and culture.

Learning about Ireland isn’t limited to campus. Catholic University offers study abroad programs, such as an internship with the Irish Parliament in Dublin. The CUA Irish Summer Institute takes students to Cork, Ballyferiter, and Dublin for a five-and-a-half-week visit to explore sites of major historical, cultural, political, economic, and linguistic relevance.

CUA architecture students built a monument in Ireland last summer.


Last summer, 21 architecture students built a monument on the coast of County Mayo that celebrates the area’s natural beauty and historical legacy. Working over 12 days, the students created “The Crossing” at Downpatrick Head, the first signature stop on the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal touring route that highlights the geography and culture of western Ireland.

For more information about Irish culture at Catholic University, read “All Things Irish,” published in the spring 2014 issue of The Catholic University of America Magazine.




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