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REF NO.: 345

SUBJECT: Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowship recipients awarded
DATE: June 13, 2005

The inaugural Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowships have been awarded for 2005. Dr. Trevor Bell, Department of Geography, Memorial University, and Walter Kirwan, Ireland-Newfoundland Partnership, have been selected to receive fellowships in this newly-created initiative.

“The selection committee was very pleased with the quality of applications it received for this inaugural fellowship. This year’s recipients are highly qualified and innovative in their respective fields and will bring significant contributions to this initiative,” said Memorial University President Axel Meisen. “We look forward to furthering our connections with Ireland and working together on areas that are mutually beneficial.”

Dr. Trevor Bell has taught in the Department of Geography at Memorial since 1994. His research interests focus on past environmental change in northern and eastern Canada, with particular emphasis on landscape history. Since 1996, he has co-directed, with Dr. Priscilla Renouf of Anthropology, an interdisciplinary project called Humans on the Landscape, which integrates archaeology and landscape studies in Newfoundland. The focus of Dr. Bell’s fellowship will be sea level history and archaeology, specifically submerged archaeological landscapes around Ireland and Newfoundland. Dr. Bell will study the techniques used by Irish researchers to map submerged landscapes, evaluate their potential for near-shore Newfoundland, and compare prehistoric settlement models for coastal environments in Newfoundland and Ireland.

Walter Kirwan is a former Irish civil servant who, prior to his retirement in 2004, served as the assistant secretary-general in the Department of the Taoiseach (Ireland’s prime minister), responsible for the Northern Ireland Division. At present, he is honorary vice-chair of the Ireland-Newfoundland Partnership, the public/private entity established by the Government of Ireland to co-ordinate cooperation between the two governments and jurisdictions that was established in 2001. The focus of Mr. Kirwan’s fellowship will be to increase already well-established connections between Newfoundland and Ireland. Mr. Kirwan intends to spend a significant amount of time at Memorial University and has offered to contribute to university-level courses in the Department of Political Science and deliver guest lectures on subjects ranging from European affairs, Northern Ireland affairs, diplomacy and conflict resolution, and economic policy.

The Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowship program was announced in January 2005 by Dr. Axel Meisen as part of Memorial’s commitment to strengthening links between Ireland and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The fellowships are intended to promote exchanges in all areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland relationship and will support significant periods of residence by individual fellows.

Fellows will normally be academic scholars, senior civil servants or eminent practitioners, whether currently serving or recently retired. In all cases, fellows will have demonstrated clear interest and expertise in one or more areas relevant to the Irish-Newfoundland relationship; these would include, but not limited to, regional economic or business development; the study of society, history or politics; literature and the arts; technology and innovation. A financial subsidy of up to $10,000 is provided to each fellow to cover transportation and subsistence expenses.

The Coracle Fellowships initiative draws its name from the sailing craft that was supposedly used by the legendary sixth-century monk St. Brendan the Navigator, who is reputed to have sailed from Ireland to Iceland, Greenland and perhaps as far as the island of Newfoundland. While St. Brendan’s voyage cannot be confirmed, his legendary voyage was replicated in 1976 by the adventurer Tim Severin, and his hardy craft and determination now provide a metaphor to an initiative celebrating the spirit of a province that has navigated the stormy waters of economic survival and cultural identity.

For more information on the Coracle Irish-Newfoundland Fellowships, visit www.mun.ca/coracle.php.

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