The John V. Kelleher Irish Studies Library
Professor John V. Kelleher, emeritus holder of the endowed Chair in Irish Studies at Harvard University, donated the heart of his working library in Irish history, literature, and the social sciences to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The volumes in this collection, many of them heavily annotated by Professor Kelleher, constitute a uniquely valuable resource for students and scholars.
Professor Kelleher held Harvard's Chair in Irish Studies until his retirement in 1986. He was a renowned teacher for forty years at Harvard, and his lectures, seminars, and conference papers encouraged hundreds of students toward the study of Irish history and literature. As a publishing scholar, Professor Kelleher's great achievement has been his extraordinary essays, which have always a gem-like precision of thought and an exceptional conciseness of expression, leavened with wit, humor, and colloquial directness. Over the years, these essays have been the catalyst and inspiration for the work in Irish Studies of numerous younger scholars. Moreover, the most remarkable feature of his scholarship has been Professor Kelleher's magisterial command of the entire range of Irish cultural studies in both Irish and English. He has written seminal essays on the earliest corpus of annals, genealogies, and heroic tales, on ideas of "Celticism" in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, on the Irish Renaissance accomplishments of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce, and on the stories of his friends O'Connor and O'Faolain. Moreover, he wrote early, crucial essays that defined terms and set boundaries for the study of the immigrant and ethnic cultures of Irish America. A collection of Professor Kelleher's original poems and translations from the Irish, Too Small for Stovewood, Too Big for Kindling, was published by Ireland's Dolmen Press.
The Kelleher Library will allow new generations of scholars to follow to the roots, and then to build upon, the work of this founding father of Irish Studies in America.