Eoin McKiernan, 89, founder of the Irish American Cultural Institute who was credited with leading efforts to revive and preserve Irish culture and language in the United States, died Sunday in St. Paul, Minn. The cause of death was not reported.
McKiernan's passion for Irish culture inspired him to establish the institute in 1962 while serving as chairman of the English department at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul. He said he wanted people to see beyond the hoopla of St. Patrick's Day and enjoy Irish folk tales, artists, dances and history.
He also brought Ireland and Irish culture to the American public with 53 half-hour programs broadcast on public television. And he organized tours to Ireland and established a journal of Irish studies.
Born in New York City, McKiernan earned his bachelor's degree in literature and cultural languages from St. Joseph's College, a master's degree from the University of New Hampshire and his PhD from Penn State University.
"He was a major pioneer in restoring a sense of Irish culture in the United States," Lawrence O'Shaughnessey, a philanthropist who gave generously to the College of St. Thomas for a center of Irish studies, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.