Cyril Byrne Lecture History

As a teacher, researcher, friend, fundraiser, actor and raconteur, Cyril Byrne spent his life bringing people together. This lecture series, named in his honour, carries on that tradition. During his 35-year career at Saint Mary’s, Dr. Byrne worked hard to forge new connections between academic disciplines within the university and to forge a more open relationship between the university and the broader community. In 1975 he played a key role in the founding of the Atlantic Canada Studies Program and 11 years later, in 1986, he was almost single-handedly responsible for the creation of the now-celebrated D’Arcy McGee Chair in Irish Studies.

Throughout, Dr. Byrne remained deeply committed to his role as a professor of literature. For the generations of students who came through the English department during his tenure, Dr. Byrne’s dramatic, often hilarious, accent-laced lectures on Shakespeare or Joyce, Chaucer or Yeats made a profound and lasting impression. Obviously, Dr. Byrne was an interdisciplinary scholar ahead of his time. His thought, like his personality, could and would not be easily contained within restricted categories. In 1992, Dr. Byrne was named a member of the Order of Canada in a ceremony that officially recognized the national significance of his expansive vision for education and research at Saint Mary’s. 

Cyril Byrne passed away on August 16, 2006.  This lecture recognizes his fun-loving spirit and celebrates his long-lasting contribution to the university. By following Dr. Byrne’s example and carrying on the good work he initiated, we keep his memory alive.

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