Statement from Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on the death of Irish studies co-founder Seamus Deane

Author: Notre Dame News

“Notre Dame mourns the death today of Seamus Deane, a great friend of the University and co-founder of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

“Endowed with a towering intellect, Professor Deane was one of Ireland’s greatest poets and literary critics. In his tribute today, Irish President Michael D. Higgins said: “Seamus Deane’s contribution to critical and creative writing was delivered not only at home in Ireland, but in some of the most prestigious universities of the United States of America,” citing Notre Dame among them. 

“Professor Deane was first introduced to Notre Dame in 1973, when he spent a semester teaching at the University. He told an acquaintance that he presented his most difficult material, never having to ‘dumb down’ his presentations to Notre Dame students. He confided that one of his students, Joe Montana, ‘would easily have made a fine doctoral candidate.’

“Two decades later, he would co-found the Institute for Irish Studies with Christopher Fox, professor emeritus of English, who recalled today that, with the support of Don Keough, chair emeritus of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, ‘the presence of Seamus Deane helped Notre Dame build the top program of its kind in the world.’

“Higgins, the Irish president, said Professor Deane’s passing represented ‘not only the loss of a foremost critic, but of a distinguished poet, novelist and internationally acclaimed university teacher.’

“Notre Dame students were the great beneficiaries of all of Professor Deane’s talent. In our sadness today, we also celebrate the life of Seamus Deane, and the great joy and insight he brought to Notre Dame, Ireland and the world.”

Originally published by Notre Dame News at on May 13, 2021.