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Professor Maurice Harmon, A Tribute from UCD School of English, Drama and Film

Professor Maurice Harmon, A Tribute from UCD School of English, Drama and Film

UCD School of English, Drama and Film mourns the passing of former colleague, distinguished
scholar and inspiring lecturer, Professor Maurice Harmon. Professor Harmon was born in Dublin in
1930. He studied English at UCD, graduating in 1951, before undertaking the HDip in Education, MA
in English, and a PhD thesis on the writings of Sean O’Faolain which was awarded in 1961. His first
academic posts were in the USA, in Oregon and Indiana, but he returned to Dublin in 1965 to take up
the post of Lecturer in Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama. His career as a lecturer and professor at
UCD spanned the next twenty-five years. Genial and modest in character, Maurice was a pioneering
figure in the study of modern Irish literature. He published books such as Modern Irish Literature
(1967) and Select Bibliography for the Study of Anglo-Irish Literature and its Backgrounds (1977)
which made the emerging field of Anglo-Irish literary studies accessible for new scholars. He was a
conscientious and generous editor, first editing the University Review in the 1960s, before founding
a new journal, the Irish University Review, which became under his editorship the leading
international journal of Irish literary criticism and scholarship. His books and essays on mid-century
Irish authors – including groundbreaking studies of Sean O’Faolain, Thomas Kinsella, Austin Clarke
and Richard Murphy – helped to define the terms of scholarship of Irish literature after Yeats and
Joyce. He retired from UCD in 1990, but his energy and passion for literature and academic
scholarship continued. He was a regular participant in Irish studies conferences, and he published
several volumes of his own poetry and critical essays over the past thirty years. Among his most
recent publications was an essay he wrote for the fiftieth anniversary issue of the Irish University
Review in which he reflected on its origins and its place, a place he worked hard to create. He is
remembered very fondly by all those who worked with him and were taught by him. His generosity
towards emerging scholars was particularly evident to all, as was his devotion to students and
colleagues at UCD. He kindly donated his papers to UCD Special Collections in 2017, and his reading
of his beautiful poem, ‘The Stunning Place’, can be viewed (opens in a new window)here on the UCD poetry reading archive.

Professor Maureen Murphy (Hofstra University, New York), former President of the American
Conference for Irish Studies, wrote in tribute to Professor Harmon: “He has been a mainstay for the
field of Anglo-Irish Literature: teaching in a variety of American universities as well as University
College Dublin, writing and editing valuable and insightful scholarship and adding his own poetry to
the fine corpus of Irish and international writers”.  

Professor J.C.C. Mays, former Chair of Modern English and American Literature at UCD, wrote of
Professor Harmon: “He really built up the Anglo-Irish MA programme for American students and was
a friendly, informative person to me who knew nothing about Ireland. I helped him a little with
the Irish University Review, of which he had recently become editor and before Chris Murray
provided much more expert help. He was a very nice man -- passionate to mark an important place
for Irish studies -- and, with his wife and children, he presided over parties where our family made
many of their first Irish friends: he was a quietly good person, who travelled to Palestine in the late
sixties and early seventies in summer vacations to teach.”