SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The space is modest. But what will happen there is monumental, for Georgia Southern and for Savannah’s Irish community.
Georgia Southern is in the process of moving the base for its Irish Studies program to Savannah. The university will be creating a headquarters on the Armstrong campus and introducing courses in the spring while embracing and enhancing the Irish influences they will now be surrounded by.
"We have something really special in this city and yes, it's highlighted on St. Patrick's Day and the Celtic Cross ceremony and so many other events,’’ said Dr. Howard Keeley, director of the GSU Irish Studies Program. “But one of the things we can help with is being here every day of the year. We all celebrate that, and we need to pass it on to the next generation so there will be a great Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade 100 years from now.’’
In addition to students and faculty, the office space will be available to local Irish organizations for meetings.
And as it comes together, even the decor will honor the connection between Savannah and Ireland, including the main artwork in the lobby, which will be an 1850 ad from the Wexford Independent newspaper.
"The ad is entitled ‘emigration to Savannah,'‘’ said Keeley. “And my favorite line in the ad is ‘it's the best port in the states of America.’”
The new headquarters for the Irish Studies Program also will build upon the bond evident last month, when Georgia Southern launched its first international campus in Wexford, Ireland.
"I think it’s really a transformative moment for the university,’’ said Keeley. “We’re over 100 years of age. One of the things that makes Georgia Southern successful all those years is adaptability. It hasn’t sat back and waited for the trends to appear; it’s tried to get ahead of those. And globalization is clearly the facto of our lives now.’’