This summer Thomas Finan, Ph.D., director of SLU's Center for International Studies, had the unique honor of being invited to present a copy of his book, Medieval Lough Ce: History, Archeology and Landscape, to Ireland's president Mary McAleese.
|Thomas Finan, Ph.D. with Irish President Mary McAleese|
McAleese, who is wrapping up her term as president, selected a number of books for presentations which focus on research and scholarship related to Ireland.
Finan's book is an offshoot of several projects in the north county Roscommon area that have injected a great deal of revenue into local economies that are primarily based upon pastoral farming.
The Kilteasheen Archaeological Project, which Finan has co-directed for the last decade, has had grants and revenues of nearly $300,000, most of which went directly into the local economy for services like student housing, food and transportation.
Finan said what is perhaps more important to consider from a research perspective is that this book was honored by McAleese because of its role in identifying a vast space of medieval Ireland that is only recently coming to light as one of the more important regions of the thirteenth century.
"In some ways Roscommon hasn't had the appeal of the Ring of Kerry or Wicklow Mountains, but the amount of archaeological heritage in Roscommon is astounding and most of it untouched and unresearched," Finan said.
Finan worked extensively with Fr. Brian Conlin, the parish priest of Cootehall. The Kilteasheen excavations are located in that parish, and on an annual basis Fr. Conlin has been instrumental in holding a ceremony every year during the excavations blessing the project and the remains of the humans excavated.
"We excavated over 150 skeletons out of a cemetery of likely 3000 graves," Finan said. "It was very important for the local community to hold this ceremony every year as a means of both honoring the past and learning about people who have made little impact on history."
The presentation took place Thursday, July 7, at the presidential mansion Áras an Uachtaráin.