POCATELLO – As a child, Idaho State University professor Justin Stover was immersed in Irish history and culture. It started from birth- his mother gave him the middle name “Dolan” after her Irish maiden name. Upon high school graduation, he knew he wanted to earn a living talking about Irish history. This spring, Stover plans to bring the Irish culture alive in Pocatello to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising.
“The 1916 Easter Rising is the defining moment of the Irish independence movement,” Stover said. “I am going to be in Idaho rather than Ireland, so why don’t we make the local, global, and put Idaho on the world stage.”
Multiple cities around the world will hold their own Easter Rising commemorations, but Stover believes Idaho can hold their own, too. He has been working hard to publish articles, and plans to present his work at symposiums at Columbia University and Notre Dame this year, but wanted people in Idaho to be informed as well.
Stover will be speaking on sexual violence during the Irish Revolution at ISU’s Gender and Sexuality Conference on March 10 and 11, and will hold a pop-up museum on campus on March 28 and 29 that will feature student projects on the Easter Rising from his Modern Ireland class.
“Over 30 million Americans identify themselves as having Irish heritage,” Stover said. “People in this area already identify themselves as being Irish in some way and it’s just filling in a little backstory and giving them a firmer background at to who they are. You don’t have to be Irish to appreciate the culture, it’s a fascinating culture learn more about.”
Stover was able to travel abroad to receive his master’s degree and Ph.D. in Dublin, Ireland. He said one of the most interesting things he learned was that Ireland is a lot like the United States but also very different. As a student, he wanted to take the United States to Ireland, and bring Ireland back to the United States.
“Ireland is English-speaking, but not,” Stover said. “The accent can be very thick, and behaviors and conversations are different. Both countries have a similar culture but are also completely different, and I learned that quickly.”
In Ireland, Stover was exposed to a much more interactive classroom, a dynamic he has incorporated into his own classroom. He uses debate and collaborative discussions to help students engage with various topics.
“I’m thankful that Idaho State University gave me the opportunity to share Ireland with its students,” he said. “Students studying in any field can learn from Ireland in some way.”
Idaho State University is one of the few regional enclaves where students can pursue Irish studies. Along with Stover’s work, ISU has a Fulbright foreign language teacher Seamus Barra O’Suilleabhain, who has been teaching Irish to students for the 2015-2016 school year.