Press releases of Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF)

"Deepening Relations Between Ireland and Germany"

The Centre for Irish Studies opens its doors at Europa-Universität Flensburg

On November 8, 2023, the Centre for Irish Studies at Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF) celebrated its grand opening in a special inaugural event. The Centre aims to consolidate the interdisciplinary research approaches of EUF on Ireland, Irish-German relations, and aspects of the Irish diaspora worldwide.

An important day for German-Irish relations

The Irish Ambassador to Germany, Nicholas O'Brien, emphasized his delight at the opening: "It is such a pleasure to be here today to celebrate the launch of the Centre for Irish Studies at the Europa Universität Flensburg" he noted. "This is a really important day for the deepening of relations between Ireland and Germany and Flensburg in particular. I am delighted to be able to say that Irish Studies is really spreading throughout Germany with the establishment of this center in Flensburg. I would like to congratulate everyone involved at Europa-Universität Flensburg for making this vision a reality, and in particular Professor Michelle Witen for her enthusiasm and energy in opening an Irish Center in this historic location."

Insight into a geographically peripheral region of great significance to Europe

The new center is located in the Interdisciplinary Center for European Studies (ICES) at Europa-Universität Flensburg.  ICES Director Prof. Dr. Monika Eigmüller stressed that the integration of Irish Studies marks a new phase for the center. First, she noted, the Center for Irish Studies strengthens the academic work of ICES in the field of cultural studies. Second, it focuses on a geographically peripheral region that is nevertheless of great cultural and historical importance in Europe. And third, it embodies ICES' commitment to interdisciplinary research. "In conclusion, the Center for Irish Studies is not just about researching Ireland, but also about expanding our knowledge of Europe and its diverse cultural landscape," commented professor Eigmüller.

Ireland to gain importance within the European context

The director of Germany's northernmost Center for Irish Studies is Prof. Dr. Michelle Witen, Junior Professor of English and Irish Literature at Europa-Universität Flensburg. An expert in James Joyce, Prof. Witen seeks to network closely with other Irish studies centers across Germany: "Brexit has changed the political position of Ireland and Northern Ireland within the EU," she explained. "Ireland will gain in importance in the European context.  There has already been a renaissance of Irish Studies in Germany in recent years. Interest in Ireland - its literature, history, politics and culture - will continue to grow in importance and the EUF Center for Irish Studies will hopefully play an important role in this." A particular focus will on as-yet under-researched similarities between Ireland and Flensburg, such as seafaring, ferry building, and the colonial and Caribbean past.

Summer school, beer tasting and movie nights

The center's planned activities during its first year include beer tasting, guest lectures, film nights, a Cultural Theory Summer School, political discussion evenings, a research day, and a Finnegans Wake reading circle. In 2025, the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, which has not taken place in Germany since 1981, is scheduled to take place in Flensburg.

Close networking within the university

Within the university, the Centre for Irish Studies is closely linked with existing structures like the Interdisciplinary Center for European Studies (ICES), the Centre for Small and Regional Languages (KURS), and the University of Limerick as a strategic partner university. In the area of teacher training, the Centre for Irish Studies will support the "European Pathway" program, which will increasingly integrate European and international dimensions into EUF's undergraduate teacher education program.

Strong connection to the University of Limerick

In this context, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Glassmann, Vice President for Europe and International Affairs at EUF, emphasized that the Centre for Irish Studies is an excellent complement to the university's internationalization strategy. "I am delighted by the establishment of the Centre for Irish Studies, which fits perfectly into the internationalization strategy of the Europa-Universität Flensburg," he noted. "The University of Limerick in Ireland is an important strategic partner of EUF under whose leadership we are seeking funding in the European University Alliance program. The work and expertise of the new Centre for Irish Studies will (further strengthen this cooperation and) bring us even closer to our Irish partner."