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Mary Ball Washington Chair

The Mary Ball Washington Professorship of American History

Current Chair: Timothy Meagher (2019 - 2020)

Mary Ball was born in Lively, Virginia, in 1708; she died in 1789, less than four months after her son George was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America.

The professorship was founded through the efforts of John D.J. Moore, Ambassador of the United States of America to Ireland, 1969-1975, and established on August 7 1975 by Statute LXXXVI of the University, with the support of a gift from the Alfred I. Du Pont Foundation.

Since its foundation, the Professorship has been held by some extremely distinguished historians, and it has been regarded as a crucial benefit for those teaching history at UCD, as providing a point of contact with the historical profession in the United States and as helping to interest generations of Irish students in the history of the United States of America. For a number of years the historian appointed was someone who specialised in the history of the American Presidency, or the history of American foreign policy, but now the Chair is being advertised much more widely, as any historian of the USA in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. The School of History is very grateful to the Fulbright Commission, who have done much to facilitate and support the holders of the chair. 

The Current Mary Ball Washington Professor

Timothy Meagher studies American immigration and ethnic history.  His specialty is the history of Irish Americans.  His publications on that topic include Inventing Irish America: Generation, Class and Ethnic Identity in a New England City 1880 to 1928 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2001) and The Columbia Guide to Irish American History (Columbia University Press, 2005).  He was co-editor with Ronald H. Bayor of The New York Irish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996).  His most recent pieces on Irish Americans are “Irish America without Ireland: Irish-American relations with Ireland in the twentieth century” in Niall Whelehan, ed., Transnational Perspectives on Modern Irish History: Beyond the Island (Routledge, 2014) and “Mobility, money and nostalgia: The Irish in America,” in Eugenio R. Biagini and Mary E. Daly, ed., The Cambridge Social History of Modern Ireland (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2017).  

Holders of the Chair


  • 1976-77  Donald McCoy
  • 1977-78  Lloyd Ambrosius
  • 1978-79  Richard M. Reinitz
  • 1979-80  Peter Karsten
  • 1981-82  Stephen Ambrose
  • 1982-83  George McGovern
  • 1984-85  Francis Carroll
  • 1985-86  Kim McQuaid
  • 1986-87  Glenda Riley
  • 1987-88  Lawrence Gelfand
  • 1988-89  Merrill D. Peterson
  • 1989-90  Peter S. Onuf
  • 1990-91  Stephen G. Rabe
  • 1991-92  Walter Nugent
  • 1992-93  Joan Hoff
  • 1993-94  Thomas McCormick
  • 1994-95  Ingrid Winther Scobie
  • 1995-96  Theodore Wilson 
  • 1996-97  Elaine Tyler May
  • 1997-98  Kevin Boyle
  • 1998-99  Harvard Sitcoff
  • 1999-00  Robert McMahon
  • 2000-01  Mark Lytle
  • 2001-02  Terry Anderson
  • 2003-04  Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
  • 2004-05  Mark Lytle
  • 2005-06  Mitchell Lerner
  • 2006-07  Kenneth A. Osgood
  • 2007-08  Robert K. Brigham
  • 2008-09  V. Scott Kaufman and Patrick McGilligan
  • 2009-10  Adam Sheingate
  • 2011-12  Doug Egerton
  • 2012-13  Matthew Sutton
  • 2013-14  Robert Strong
  • 2014-15  Brian Schoen
  • 2015-16  Frank Towers
  • 2016-17  David Woolner
  • 2017-18  Jason Scott Smith
  • 2018-19  Glenda Gilmore
  • 2019-20 Timothy Meagher