Irish Rising in America

The 2010 Irish Tour of America

Ireland ® Texas ® Colorado ® New York ® Florida ® Ireland

Departure from Dublin:  Thursday, March 18

Return to Dublin:  Wednesday, April 7


TO TEXAS.  On Thursday, March 18:  Irish fly from Dublin, Ireland, to Lubbock, Texas.

On Friday, March 19:  Irish/American exhibition Debate at NPDA Nationals in Lubbock, Texas.  Host:  Brent Northup.

On Saturday, March 20:  Guests at NPDA, Lubbock 

On Sunday, March 21:  Guests at NPDA, Lubbock. Outing in Lubbock.  Andrea:  806-549-2801 

On Monday, March 22:  Guests at NPDA, Lubbock. Championship debate. Irish introduced. 

On Tuesday, March 23:  Touring lovely Lubbock. 

TO COLORADO.  On Wednesday, March 24:  Irish fly from Lubbock, Texas, to Denver, Colorado.  Dinner with Host:  Rob Margesson, Regis University.

On Thursday, March 25:  Lunch with campus dignitaries.  Dinner with Dennis Gallagher (local politician).  Public debate.

On Friday, March 26:  Lunch with Regis University Debate Team members.  Drive to Winter Park ski condo.

On Saturday, March 27:  Ski at Winter Park.  Drive back to Denver.

TO NEW YORK.  On Sunday, March 28:  Irish fly from Denver, Colorado to New York, New York.  Host:  Steve Llanos, St. John’s University.

On Monday, March 29:  St. Johns University, New York, City: Host:  Steve Llano, St. John’s University.

On Tuesday, March 30:  St. Johns University, New York, City: Host:  Steve Llano, St. John’s University.

On Wednesday, March 31:  St. Johns University, New York, City: Host:  Steve Llano, St. John’s University.

On Thursday, April 1:  Irish fly from the JFK Airport in New York, New York, to Buffalo, New York, arriving prior to noon.  Host:  Eric Barnes, Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  Trip to Niagara Falls.  Visit a Native American Casino.  Dinner with President Mark Gearan.

On Friday, April 2:  Trip to Women’s Rights National Park in Seneca Falls.  Lunch at a local vineyard.  The International Debate Education Association and Hobart and William Smith Tournament begins: Irish may sleep or, perhaps, compete.  Sit-down dinner with the Provost & HWS faculty.  Wine tasting party.

On Saturday, April 3:  Three more preliminary rounds. Catered lunch between rounds.  Final round.  Awards banquet at the Cobblestone Restaurant followed by an after-tournament gathering at the hotel (Ramada on the Lake).

TO FLORIDA. On Sunday, April 4:  Irish fly from Syracuse, New York, to Miami, Florida.  Host:  Bill Todd, Miami Dade Community College and David Steinberg, University of Miami.

On Monday, April 5:  Irish will debate with the University of Miami and possibly an online debate with We The Students. Host:  Bill Todd, Miami Dade Community College and David Steinberg, University of Miami.

On Tuesday, April 6:  At their pleasure, and dependent on weather and time: the beach and/or Everglades National Park. Host:  Bill Todd, Miami Dade Community College and David Steinberg, University of Miami.

TO IRELAND.  On Wednesday, April 7:  Irish fly from Miami, Florida, to Dublin, Ireland.

Irish Tour of America, arranged by Pax Rhetorica
Center for Global Dialogue
EIN: 81-1274216
Brent Northup, Founding Director


Introducing the Irish: Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin, Sean O’Quigley & Niall Sherry

“Touring America will be an outrageously wonderful opportunity.”

Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin, Trinity College Dublin

 “Growing up it is every boys dream to be either an astronaut, James Bond or play for his country and I was no different.  It seems unlikely now that I will be either an astronaut or James Bond so representing my country is a dream come true.”

Sean O’Quigley, Griffith College-Dublin

Ireland has crowned its debating champions for 2011 to oppose three top American debaters in a Friday, March 19, public debate that precedes the start of the NPDA national tournament in Lubbock, Texas at Texas Tech University.

The winning Irish debate team and the top individual in the Irish Times Debate Final were crowned on Friday night Feb. 19 at the Helix auditorium on the campus of Dublin City University.

The winning team was the team from Trinity College was Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin (pronounced Neeve Nee Vweel-own) and Niall Sherry. The winning individual was Sean O’Quigley of Griffith College Dublin.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin: Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin, 20, is in her third year studying English and Classical Civilization at Trinity College Dublin. Her career options are many, including journalism and academia/teaching. She confesses she’s one of the younger debaters at Trinity, but says the older debaters were “delighted” that she won – even at their own expense.

Raised in the Dublin, Niamh’s parents – mom’s a doctor and dad’s a teacher – eliminated any chance of idle time.

“My parents made sure I was involved in a wide range of activities as a child; primarily speech and drama, Irish dancing, playing guitar, Gaelic football. I’ve also always had a very strong interest in literature, and read everything I could get my hands on from a very young age. I went to a fantastic Irish language primary school and from 12 to 18 studied in my local community school.”

Her parents also instilled in Niamh a desire for a life of service. She’s helped with fundraisers for Sri Lanka and for projects in Ghana and Calcutta – and participated in a fundraising fast for the charity Concern.

“At the moment, I’m involved in the campaign to open a hospice in my local area, to provide respite and palliative care to sufferers of cancer and motor neuron disease,” she says.

Niamh has debated for seven years. She has been successful in many Irish tournaments, including the National Maidens, Cork, UCD and Galway.

“I think it’s very important to deeply consider the moral and political issues of our time, and to be forced to consider both sides of every argument. I also enjoy tailoring my ideas in such a way that they are persuasive and enjoyable for an audience. Managing to make an audience laugh or strongly reconsider their own views is always a huge thrill.”

Her dad Eoin, who debated for University College Galway, also is a former winner of the Irish Times event. He toured America in 1983, a tour that took him to Colorado.

“We were three Irish men in Denver on St. Patrick’s Day and were feted throughout our stay,” he says. “My all encompassing memory is the generosity and kindness of all the people we met.”

Whether serendipity or karma, daughter Niamh will also visit Denver on her own trip this year. She’s even scheduled to meet a local politician who hosted a party when dad visited Denver!

Niamh’s first debate coach was her dad, of course. He is a teacher and his daughter attended dad’s school.

“She attended her first debate when she was between 6 and 7 years of age,” he said. “Right through secondary school I worked with her as her coach. At different times the experience brought out the best and the worst in me.”

The father recalls that by the end of her school years Niamh had already taken part in two All Ireland Finals.

“Before she ever started college we spoke of the possibility that she could win the Times,” he says. “So the Final was the culmination of a dream.”

Needless to say, dad is bursting with Irish pride.

“Pure pride and joy best describe feeling of both myself and Niamh’s mother Thecla. We both felt so proud that through hard work, dedication and particularly passion Niamh had fulfilled on her talent and had honored the gift bestowed on her. It is clear that she will continue to develop the gift.”

Niamh credits her parents with setting her off down the right course in life.

“When I was younger and people asked my Dad what they hoped for my sisters and I he’d say ‘I don’t care what they think, as long as they think something.’ I think it’s very important to live in a considered way, trying to do the best you can for yourself and for other people. So family and friends matter more than anything to me, as well as trying to live positively, and make the world a little better in whatever way I can.”

Niamh is one busy lady, trying to live life to the fullest.

“I cycle every day and I read a lot – literature (favorite authors are Virginia Woolf and Evelyn Waugh), news, current affairs and cultural commentary, I’m an avid reader of the New Yorker.  I also spend a lot of time sitting and talking with friends, drinking coffee or sometimes something a bit stronger. I also travel quite a bit, in the last few years I’ve been on trips to China, Prague, Bali, Cuba and the UK.
“I thrive on being busy, so try to throw myself into as many things as possible, I figure that’s what my college years are for. It can get a bit tiring – late nights with friends followed by morning classes or debates – but I wouldn’t miss any of it, they’re all experiences I’ll have for the rest of my life. I’m pretty intense about academics, I set myself very high standards, but I love what I do so that gets me by.”

But Niamh confesses she knows that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – or in this case, makes Jill a dull girl.

“Obviously I take downtime sometimes too, sitting on the couch watching movies, the ‘West Wing’ or ‘Gilmore Girls,’ you need to let go of the stressful elements of life every now and then. I don’t like to be on my own for very long, I love having people around me to chat to and laugh with, so my family and friends are really important to me. Basically, I like to spend my time thinking, learning and talking about anything and everything with great people that I care about.”
She is active in student journalism, speaks Gaelic and actively works to promote the Irish language.

Niamh says she values friendship and ambition most in life. She describes herself as “committed with a clear understanding of the importance of both work and play.”

Niamh has never visited America before, and looks forward to the trip.

“The Irish Times Final is a special event that lends a special element to Irish intellectual life,” she says. “Touring America will be an outrageously wonderful opportunity.”
Niamh hopes the three Irish debaters will represent their country proudly and well.

“Niall, Sean and I all hope to try to bring the distinctive Irish style of debating to our American debates. Irish debaters put a lot of emphasis on oratory, lots of engagement with the audience, and plenty of humor. I’m also very interested in the international exchange of ideas, and understanding the differences between our views and those of the American students.”

Niall Sherry: Niall Sherry, 23, is in his fifth and final year at Trinity College Dublin where he is studying Comparative European Politics. His senior thesis explores the development of Green politics in Europe. He plans to pursue his doctorate – in Europe or America – in a related field. He’s also quite interested in electoral behavior.

“I’m actually very unclear on exactly what my future plans are,” he says. “Right now my plan is to take a year off from studying – this is my 5th year in college and if I’m facing into 3-4 more, I want to have a break first.”

Raised in Dublin, Niall’s dad is an engineer and his mother a homemaker. He spent two years in Lagos, Nigeria when he was young.

Niall says he has had “a ridiculously wide range of interests in that time including just about every sport – Gaelic football, basketball, rugby, hurling – as well as student film projects, quiz teams and, of course, debating.

“I love the competitive aspect of debating,” he says. “It’s also great for meeting people from other universities. I like debating because it forces you to think about issues on multiple levels and from multiple perspectives… Most of all, it helps you learn to think quickly on your feet and be able to discuss issues in detail with minimal preparation time, something that’s been very helpful in making it through college seminars!”

Niall has debated for five years including an appearance in the Irish Times Final last year. He’s been in finals of numerous tournaments including UCD, the Irish Mace and Cambridge.

Beyond debate, Niall has used his skills for many good causes. He led a fundraising drive to raise money for a centre for terminally ill kids, volunteers in a local library and has been active in campus politics. He’s hosted a college radio show, written for the college paper and loves Ultimate Frisbee, paint-balling and sailing.

“I have a tendency to take on way more than I’m capable of, and I’m constantly busy with something,” he says. “I find life incredibly boring if I don’t have at least five deadlines bearing down on me at any given time! It makes for a stressful existence, but that’s better than a dull one. Most of all, though, it makes you appreciate the quiet moments when you get them – the time you get to spend just chilling out with the most important people in your life.”

Somehow, Niall has kept all the bowling pins in the air without being beaned too often.

“I’ve generally tried as many different societies and clubs as it’s been possible to try without flunking out of my course,” he confesses. 

Niall is looking forward to the American tour and the debates. And how will he approach the American debates?

“My approach is likely to be quite laid back. Although I’m quite competitive a lot of the time, and naturally would very much like to win all of our debates, the main reason I’m looking forward to the tour is the experience of meeting so many different people from so many different universities across the States and getting to debate against them. I’m going to be trying to see the debates not as just another competition, but as a learning experience for both us and our hosts.”

Niall has visited Florida briefly in his only trip to the states, and he regards this trip as “an amazing opportunity.”

Sean O’Quigley: Sean O’Quigley, 29, is a third year law student at Griffith College Dublin. He plans a career as a barrister, a criminal lawyer.

After college, he worked for a while in sales and marketing, before starting night courses. Now he’s a full-time student headed for law.

Raised in Dublin, Sean’s dad is an accountant and his mother a “stay-at-home mom.”

Sean plays soccer and rugby, and also enjoys trips to the pubs.

“I am, genuinely, a fully qualified soccer referee!” he says. “I don’t play any musical instruments, but recently bought myself a drum set and a ‘Drums For Dummies’ book.”

Sean has been debating for 10 years. This is his first trip to the Irish Times Final. He was Worlds Masters Debating Champion in 2006.

I like debate because I’m meeting new people, seeing other Universities and countries, learning about topics I would otherwise know nothing about,” says Sean.

And who is the real Sean? It’s clear he has lots of friends and likes to laugh.

“I spend my free time hanging out with friends!  Playing soccer, Xbox, cinema or hitting the town.  I especially love going to comedy gigs and bars with my mates.  I’m all about having a laugh! I met and partied with Dirk Benedict from ‘The A Team’ twice when he visited Ireland!”

And when asked what he values most in all of life, he has a quick answer.

“Without doubt – it’s friendship!”

Sean has visited the states often, including trips to New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Boston, Rhode Island, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

“I’m really thrilled and looking forward to the trip to America.”

Sean describes himself as outgoing, but a “down to earth guy with a good sense of humor.”

Like his friends, Sean looks forward to the trip and meeting more Americans.

“Being chosen to represent the Irish is an absolute honor and privilege,” he says. “It is an opportunity of a life time and one I intend to enjoy every minute of and remember forever.  Growing up it is every boys dream to be either an astronaut, James Bond or play for his country and I was no different.  It seems unlikely now that I will be either an astronaut or James Bond so representing my country is a dream come true.” 

And what approach will he take to the American debates?

“It is hard to have an approach when I don’t have a clue what to expect!” he confesses. “My hope is that it will be an interesting and exciting debate and my goal is to make it as entertaining as possible for those who come to watch the debate.  Because it is the 50th Anniversary of The Irish times Competition it would mean a lot to me to represent the Irish well, do us proud and hopefully win!”