About Australian Studies at UCD
The late Patrick O'Farrell was the first Australian historian to hold a visiting teaching appointment at UCD which he did in 1965-66 and 1972-3. However the teaching of Australian history began as an initiative of Brian Sommers, an Australian graduate of Sydney and Cambridge universities, who taught at UCD from 1966 to 2003. In 1971 Sommers successfully approached the Australian Embassy in Dublin for assistance from Canberra with library resources to back an Australian history course. He taught an Honours undergraduate course on Australian history from 1972-6 and extra-mural (adult education) courses on contemporary Australia in 1973-5. The idea of expanding this Australian element into a chair of Australian History came from Keith Brennan, Australian Ambassador to Ireland from January 1972 to June 1974. For more information, see the report by Robert Reece in Australian studies overseas (1988).
Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History
In 1985 the Keith Cameron Professorship of Australian History was endowed by the Commonwealth of Australia and the family of Dr Tony O'Reilly. Keith Cameron was a distinguished Australian mining engineer and company director. The past Keith Cameron Professors are: Robert Reece (Murdoch) 1987-89; John Molony (formerly Australian National University) 1989-93; David Day (La Trobe) 1993-96; Judith Brett (La Trobe) 1999-2000, Brian de Garis (Murdoch) 2000-02; and Nicholas Brown (ANU) 2003-04; Hilary Carey (Newcastle, NSW), 2005-06; Stuart Ward (Copenhagen), 2008-2009; Katie Holmes (La Trobe), 2010; Mark McKenna (Sydney), 2011; Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (Tasmania), 2012; James Curran (Sydney), 2013; Jeff Kildea (UNSW), 2014. The current chair is Erik Eklund (Federation University, Victoria), 2015-2016.
In 2006, the then Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Anne Plunkett, recommended that the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History should be re-endowed by the Australian government. Prime Minister John Howard announced the renewed funding during his visit to UCD on 22 May 2006.
Australian Studies Centre
The Australian Studies Centre was set up in the Faculty of Arts in 1996. In 1997 the National Irish Bank agreed to provide funding for successive two year post-doctoral teaching fellowships in Australian Studies over the period 1998-2002. The NIB Fellows in Australian Studies were: Dr Catherine Pratt (Australian Literature); Dr Louise Mendel (Geography). The Centre has a small reference library, apart from holdings in the main College Library, and a program of public seminars.