Image of UL's three Fulbright Scholars
UL Fulbright Awardees Edel Meade, Sophie Ni Riain and Professor Ciara Breathnach
Friday, June 10, 2022

University of Limerick has three new Fulbright Scholars in the latest round of awardees that have just been announced.

The Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Joe Hackett and the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Alexandra McKnight, on behalf of U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Clare Cronin, announced 40 Fulbright Irish Awardees for 2022-2023.

The recipients, who were presented with Awards at a ceremony in Iveagh House on Friday, include UL’s Fulbright Scholars Associate Professor Ciara Breathnach and Edel Meade as well as UL student Sophie Ní Riain.

The Fulbright Program has served to strengthen international relations for seventy-five years. The Fulbright Commission in Ireland’s vision of inspiring minds to create a global culture of understanding is more important than ever in today’s increasingly polarised world. This year’s Irish awardees will undertake research, teaching and study in the USA spanning many disciplines. They will address pressing societal issues, engage with U.S. society, and share their knowledge when they return home.

Associate Professor Ciara Breathnach is Associate Professor in History at University of Limerick. Hosted by Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, her Fulbright project entitled Death and the Irish in New York City 1880-1922 will examine how Irish immigrants planned for, and managed, death in the metropolis, from 1880, when vital registration of death was introduced, until 1922, when the Irish Free State was established. Professor Breathnach is an Irish Research Council Laureate Awardee 2017 who has published widely on Irish social and medical history. 

Edel Meade is a vocalist, composer, songwriter, performing artist, recording artist and educator from Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. An original artist working in the field of jazz, folk and contemporary music, her Fulbright-Creative Ireland Professional Fellowship Award research will explore the intersection between jazz and traditional music and song from Ireland. Her Award will culminate in a world premiere live concert performance in collaboration with Bay Area musicians at the California Jazz Conservatory in June 2023. She holds Honours Degrees in Journalism with Irish, and in Jazz Performance as well as Masters Degrees in Songwriting and in Irish Traditional Music Performance from University of Limerick. Edel is a recipient of the Fulbright Ireland Mary McPartlan Fund. 

Sophie Ní Riain holds a BA in Irish and English, and is currently completing a Masters in Irish at University of Limerick. She also tutors Irish to undergraduate students there. She teaches in Gaelscoil Charraig na Siúire and tutors Irish-language classes at a variety of levels to adults. Her undergraduate thesis focused on language shift in the 18th century. Her MA research thesis focuses on satire in Early Modern Irish. She plays camogie with her local GAA club. As a Fulbright FLTA, Sophie will teach the Irish language and take classes at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.

Joe Hackett, Secretary General of the Department of the Foreign Affairs said: “I extend my warmest congratulations to the Irish Fulbright Awardees for 2022–2023. Fulbright scholarships provide a transformational experience for individuals and play a crucial role in sustaining the close relationship that Ireland and the United States share. Every year, Fulbright recipients have the exciting opportunity to study, work, and experience life in the U.S., and to represent the best of Ireland. I wish this year’s Awardees every success for their time in the U.S.”

Alexandra McKnight, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin said: Fulbright offers an unparalleled opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, while fostering understanding between nations. This Program is a vehicle for advancing knowledge across communities and improving lives around the world. Congratulations to this year’s Awardees who will serve as ambassadors for Ireland and bring what they learn in the U.S. back with them.”

Kevin Douglass Greene of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) said: “The Fulbright-Frederick and Anna Douglass Awards were established to mark the 175th anniversary of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ historic visit to Ireland. We at FDFI worked with the Commission in Ireland and the U.S. Embassy in Dublin to create these Awards that honour not only the legacy of Frederick Douglass, but also of his wife Anna. With the goal of increasing participation of diverse communities in Ireland-U.S. exchanges, these awards offer new opportunities to Irish and U.S. students in areas of civil rights, social justice and policy development. I congratulate the inaugural Irish Award recipient Raphael Onwunali, and look forward to seeing the fruits of this scholarship.”

Professor Diane Negra, Chair of the Fulbright Commission Ireland Board said: The Commission Board congratulates the 40 awardees travelling to the U.S. in the coming year and wishes them an enjoyable and successful Fulbright experience. They are joining a very vibrant network and will benefit from the professional recognition of being a Fulbright awardee. The excellence and expertise of Fulbright recipients continues to develop after 65 years of Irish-U.S. exchange, as they continue Senator Fulbright’s vision of creating a global culture of understanding that can erode mistrust that has historically set nations against one another.”

Dr Dara FitzGerald, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland said: “The Fulbright Program continues to be an enduring, rich and affirmative part of the relationship between both countries. In addition to the brilliance of Fulbright awardees, the programme is wonderfully supported by our stakeholders and sponsors. We thank our partners, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. We are grateful to have the enduring support of our Irish award sponsors: the Health Research Board, Enterprise Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency, Geological Survey Ireland, National University of Ireland, Teagasc, the Creative Ireland Programme, the National Lottery and such notable U.S. Institutions as the Exploratorium, the Smithsonian, the Harry Ransom Center and Boston College.

“We also have tremendous support from Irish institutions such as ATU Letterkenny, University College Cork, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, National University of Ireland Galway, Maynooth University, University of Limerick, Technological University Dublin, Science Foundation Ireland, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Hugh Lane Gallery. The impact of their support is momentous, especially in terms of diversity and range of disciplines that enrich the Ireland-U.S. relationship.

The next round of applications for Fulbright Irish Awards will open on August 31 2022, interested candidates should visit for more information.