Rebecca Abbott is professor of communications at  Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT, and is an independent film producer, director and editor.  She received a BA from Dartmouth College in 1974, an MFA in filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1980, and an MA in American Studies from Yale University in 1996.  Abbott’s films include the Emmy-Award-winning documentaries  Albert Schweitzer: My Life is My Argument on the life of humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, and Aeromedical, which tells the story of aeromedical rescue in the US Air Force.  Her most recent work, Ireland’s GreatHunger and the Irish  Diaspora, is narrated by actor Gabriel Byrne. The film, which will be shown  at the event, explores the history, culture, and politics that lead to mass  starvation, eviction, disease and death in Ireland, and the lasting global legacy of those events.


Judge Patrick Dugan is the chief judge of the Philadelphia Veterans Court, which provides a holistic “treatment court” approach to criminal justice involving veterans. He was appointed to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 2007 by then Governor Ed Rendell. Judge Dugan is also a Captain in the US Army Reserves who served in South Korea, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan. At the start of the Iraq war in 2003, Judge Dugan re-enlisted and served in Mosul as part of the 416th Civil Affairs from Norristown, PA, He served as a political officer and public administration officer for the US Embassy. He was instrumental in forming one of the first women’s empowerment groups in Iraq, and assisted in forming many local NGOs. In 2005, Dugan received a direct commission to US Army JAG, and was deployed to Bagram ,Afghanistan in 2006. He served in a military legal capacity for the 82nd Airborne and the 10th Mountain Division as the Chief of Legal Assistance and Federal Claims Commission.


M. Pauline Hurley-Kurtz is the design landscape architect for the award-winning Philadelphia Irish Memorial project.  She trained as a landscape architect and horticulturalist at the University of Pennsylvania and University College,  Dublin, Ireland. She is associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her contributions to the Memorial’s design spanned a  10-year period from 1993 to the Memorial dedication in 2003, and included site designs for two sculptures, presentations to various governing agencies and at fundraising events. The final Irish Memorial landscape design focused on the creation of an elegant circular space for Glenna Goodacre’s large  figurative sculpture. The setting is a garden of remembrance, which includes elements of the Irish and Piedmont landscapes. Ms. Hurley-Kurtz continues to advise annually on the Memorial landscape, including additional plantings  and maintenance for the 10th anniversary celebrations in 2013 with the  Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and the Irish Memorial Inc.


Christine Kinealy, academic advisor to the 2016 Great Hunger Commemoration, earned her PhD at Trinity College in Ireland. She is the founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.   Kinealy has published 18 books on modern Ireland, with a focus on the Great Hunger. These include, This Great  Calamity : The Great Irish Famine 1845-52, Repeal and Revolution: 1848 in Ireland, and Daniel O’Connell and Abolition: The Saddest People the Sun Sees. Her most recent books are Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland: The Kindness of Strangers (Bloomsbury, 2013), and a graphic novel, The Bad Times:  An Drochshaol (with John Walsh, Quinnipiac University Press, 2015).  Raised in Liverpool, she traces her Irish roots to Mayo and Tipperary.


Jason King, as a post-doctoral researcher, developed the Digital Irish Famine Archive at the University of Limerick in 2012. Its purpose is to make accessible eyewitness  accounts of Irish emigration to Canada in 1847-1848. The archive contains the digitized, transcribed, and translated French language annals of the Grey Nuns of Montreal, or Sisters of Charity, who first tended to Irish famine emigrants, especially widows and orphans, in the city’s fever sheds in 1847 and 1848. It also includes annals from the Sisters of Providence and correspondence from Father Patrick Dowd, who worked alongside the Grey Nuns in the fever sheds, as well as testimonies from Irish famine orphans, like Patrick and Thomas Quinn, who were adopted by French-Canadian families. The information is online at



Jim Murphy is now the Director Emeritus of the Irish  Studies Program at Villanova University. He retired from teaching in 2010 after 46 years on the Villanova faculty. In 1979 he began Villanova’s Irish Studies Program, which has since grown to be one of the largest undergraduate programs of its kind in the United States, including study abroad offerings at the National University of Ireland in  Galway and at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He has lectured and published widely on a variety of topics in Modern Irish Culture.  Born and raised in  Brooklyn, NY, Jim received a B.A. from Manhattan College (1962), an M.A from Niagara University (1963), and a Ph.D. from Temple University (1971).


Maureen O’Rourke Murphy is the Joseph L. Dionne  Professor of Curriculum and Teaching in the School of  Education, Health, and Human Services at Hofstra  University in Hempstead, NY. A past president of  the American Conference for Irish Studies and a past chair of the International Association for the Study of Irish  Literatures, Murphy was one of the six senior editors of the prizewinning Dictionary of Irish Biography published in nine volumes and  online by the Royal Irish Academy and Cambridge University Press in 2009. Murphy directed the New York State Great Irish Famine Curriculum Project (2001), which won the National Conference for the Social Studies Excellence Award in 2002; she was the historian of the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City. She is currently the historian, with John Ridge, of the Mission of  Our Lady of the Rosary/Watson House Project. Murphy edited Irish Literature: A Reader with James MacKillop as well as Asenath Nicholson’s Annals of the Famine in Ireland and Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger and Annie O’Donnell’s Your Fondest Annie. Her biography of Asenath Nicholson, Compassionate Stranger: Asenath Nicholson and the Great Irish Famine was published in 2015. She has been awarded honorary degrees by the State University of New York at Cortland and by the National University of Ireland. In 2015, she was awarded the President of Ireland’s  medal for distinguished service.


John Walsh is the co-author and illustrator of the  graphic novel The Bad Times, a story of love and friendship set during the Irish Famine. The President of Ireland has described The Bad Times as a book that will “bring us deep into the heart of a tragedy that has left an indelible imprint on Irish society and the Irish people.” His graphic novel, Go Home Paddy, about 19th century Irish immigration to America, is being serialized online. John lives in Boston with his wife and daughter. More of his work can be discovered at