March 13, 2019

Spring break course in Ireland provides opportunity to discuss pressing issues with President Michael D. Higgins

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., March 13, 2019 — A group of Centenary University students paid a courtesy call on President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins during a recent spring break course to the Emerald Isle. President Higgins received the students in his residence, Áras an Uachtaráin, in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. The Centenary students had the opportunity to discuss pressing issues facing Ireland and the wider world, including climate change and attitudes to migration, with the president.

A poet and author, President Higgins has been a leading figure in Irish political, intellectual, and cultural life for over four decades. He is currently serving his second term as President. After meeting with the Irish leader, Centenary University student Lizzie Kilcullen of Fairfield, Conn., said, “It was an extraordinary honor to be received by President Higgins, and for him to take the time to share his reflections on serious global problems and to invite us to share our opinions with him.”

The Centenary University students are spending their spring break in Ireland as part of a course on society, culture, and politics in modern Ireland. In addition to Dublin, they are visiting Gleann Cholm Cille in southwest Donegal, a rugged mountainous district named by National Geographic as “the coolest place on the planet.” There, they are taking classes in Irish history and archaeology, music and dance, and hiking Sliabh Liag, the highest sea cliffs in western Europe. The group is also visiting the famous walled city of Derry, where they are learning about the success of the Irish peace process and the threat posed to it by “Brexit,” the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

In addition to Kilcullen, the Centenary student group includes Ella Collins of Califon, Meghan Frederick of Dalton, Mass., Kyle Hrebenak of Great Meadows, Jenny Leddy of Saint James, N.Y., Anna Robinson of Hackettstown, Nicole Santangelo of Hackettstown, Noah Schramm of Randolph, and George Wentz of Lebanon, N.J.

The course director is Centenary University Professor Breandán Mac Suibhne, Ph.D., author of The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2017), which in December 2018 received the Royal Irish Academy’s inaugural Michel Déon Prize for Works of Nonfiction published over the previous two years. Dr. Mac Suibhne is assisted by Laura Rhodes, MSW, a learning support specialist at the University.


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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