$1 million in new student support for Canadian Irish Studies
Concordia’s School of Canadian Irish Studies will benefit from a $1 million endowment for student support. The newly created Brian O’Neill Gallery Scholarship Fund will provide financial assistance to eligible students enrolled in the university’s Irish Studies major.
“Brian is a force of nature,” says Concordia President Alan Shepard. “Over two decades, he propelled Concordia’s Irish Studies program to the forefront in North America in terms of creating new opportunities, celebrating the past and creating the future. This new scholarship will recognize his impact for generations to come.”
The Brian O’Neill Gallery Scholarship Fund will provide approximately $50,000, annually, in support of nearly 20 student awards. The support will be funded by the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation.
Support with a dual purpose
Concordia graduate Brian O’Neill Gallery, BA 57, LLD 10, co-founded the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation in 1995 to support the study of Irish history and culture at the university. Gallery retired as chair in 2015, and was succeed by Pamela McGovern.
Gallery helped build an $8-million endowment for the School of Canadian Irish Studies — which he largely accomplished during a global recession. A former mayor of Westmount, Que., Gallery was named one of the university’s Great Concordians in 2014.
“We are very thankful that our donors keep Irish studies on a solid financial footing,” says Gallery. “We welcome all donations, no matter how modest, not only because we need the help but because it reinforces a belief in our goals.”
Michael Kenneally, principal of the School of Canadian Irish Studies, views the donation as homage to Gallery: “This scholarship fund will perpetuate Brian’s legacy, as he is a central figure in the growth and development of Irish Studies at Concordia.”
Bram Freedman, vice-president of Advancement and External Relations at Concordia, confirms the vital role Gallery played and continues to play at the School of Canadian Irish Studies.
“Brian is a tireless fundraiser who drove efforts to pioneer Irish studies as an academic field in Canada. His skill at mobilizing actors helped create an atmosphere of giving to higher education within the Irish community,” says Freedman.
For Gabe Gilker, a third-year Irish studies student, the award helps her further her research into the 1916 Easter Rising — which overthrew British rule and established the Republic of Ireland. “It’s been the biggest blessing ever,” says Gilker. “I can actually buy my books and not have to count my credit card and debit card spending.”
Supporters of the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation include the Right Honourable Paul Martin, 21st Prime Minister of Canada; the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, 18th Prime Minister of Canada; as well as former Quebec premiers, the Honourable Jean Charest and the Honourable Daniel Johnson.