First Ever Fulbright Ambassador at NUI Galway

Mary McPartlan
May 18 2016 Posted: 11:27 IST

Mary McPartlan, Teacher, Traditional Artist in Residence, Director of the successful Arts in Action programme at the Centre for Theatre and Performance, has been appointed 2016-2017 Fulbright Ireland Ambassador at NUI Galway.

A high profile professional singer, her albums include, the award winning ‘The Holland Handkerchief’, ‘Petticoat Loose’ and the newly release ‘From Mountain to Mountain’

Mary was a Fulbright Scholar to the Institute of Irish American Studies, Lehman College City University of New York in 2012-2013. While in New York, she taught a module on Irish Women Traditional Singers since the 1950s in Ireland and undertook research in Irish song material in New York and Kentucky. She also gave a series of lectures on Irish contemporary playwrights and plays.

As part of her research, Mary visited Berea College, Kentucky, to explore the work of American folk music singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player Jean Ritchie, who was a central figure in the history of the American Folk revival from the 1950’s onward. A Fulbright scholar herself, Jean visited Ireland on her 1952 Award to trace the links between American ballads and Irish songs.

While on her own Fulbright scholarship in the US, Mary had the opportunity to visit Jean’s home in Kentucky where she sang and played music with Jean’s family and friends. Mary’s recent album ‘From Mountain to Mountain’ pays tribute to Jean Ritchie and the Ireland-Appalachian connection.

Commenting, Silas House, novelist and writer in Kentucky, USA, said: “Mary’s own Fulbright journey culminated in the recording of the CD Mountain to Mountain. Mary’s journey in search of the evolution from across the Atlantic to Appalachia mirrored that of Jean Ritchie’s during her Fulbright in 1952, which also culminated in her album ‘Field Trip’.”

Building on the Ritchie-Pickow archive housed in NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library, and Mary’s Fulbright research, the ‘Jean Ritchie Scholarship’ was officially launched in 2015 by the University’s International Office celebrating its growing links with Berea College, Kentucky in the US.

Since returning to Ireland, Mary has continues to teach and develop the Creative Arts at NUI Galway. Her ‘Fulbright Ireland Ambassador’ role is geared at growing awareness and understanding of Fulbright opportunities on campus so that other NUI Galway students, researchers and staff may follow in her footsteps and venture to the US to undertake study or research in their own area of expertise.

Dr Dara FitzGerald, Executive Director, Fulbright Commission, said: “The Fulbright Commission is delighted that Mary McPartlan will act as NUI Galway Fulbright Ireland Ambassador. Mary is fully aware of the Fulbright experience, process and value. I know that she will bring her passion for Fulbright to engage with ‘Fulbrighters’ in the University and applicants wishing to apply for a Fulbright Award. Mary will also work with University officers and academic staff to promote NUI Galway and Fulbright links both in Ireland and the USA.”

Several NUI Galway students and staff have been successful in their application for a Fulbright award in recent years. These include 2015-2016 Awardees: Gerard Wall, a lecturer in Microbiology at NUI Galway who recently returned from his Award at the University of Wyoming where he was developing detection devices for environmental monitoring; Méabh Ní Choileáin an NUI Galway graduate of Applied Communications, currently teaching Irish language at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA); Síle Dolan a graduate of Irish at NUI Galway, currently a Fulbright FLTA at Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusetts; and Emma Lowry, a graduate of the Master’s in Language Education at NUI Galway, currently a FLTA at the University of Montana.

As Fulbright Ambassador at NUI Galway, Mary will be available to take queries from those who would like to apply for 2017-2018 Fulbright Awards. She will be organising Fulbright activities on campus to increase awareness of these scholarship opportunities. If you wish to contact Mary in this capacity you can reach her at

The 2017-2018 Fulbright Irish Awards application period will open on 31 August 2016 with a deadline of 28 October 2016. See for further details.


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