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Release date:
April 12, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or

Emory Professor James Flannery To Receive Honorary Degree From University of Ulster

James W. Flannery, Emory University professor of performing arts and director of the W. B. Yeats Foundation, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, at its commencement ceremony this summer. Flannery also has been named a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, supported by a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award, to establish a graduate program in theater linked to a Yeats Theater Institute.

"We seek to honor those individuals who have had a positive influence on our community and on our young people and in Northern Ireland and internationally," said University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor Gerry McKenna. "We see these people as role models and ambassadors for, and friends of, the university."

Additional honorary degree recipients include actor Ewan McGregor, Belfast-born founder of the Lonely Planet publications Maureen Wheeler, poet Paul Muldoon and Irish Times Chairman Thomas McDowell, among others.

A singer, producer, stage director, scholar and cultural activist, Flannery is internationally known for his expertise in the dramatic work of W. B. Yeats. His book, "W. B. Yeats and the Idea of a Theatre: The Early Abbey Theatre in Theory and Practice," covers Yeats as an aesthetician and man of the theater.

In 1988 Flannery founded the W. B. Yeats Foundation, now located at Emory, which led to the establishment of the Yeats International Theatre Festival at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. He was the executive director of the festival until 1993, where his direction of 19 Yeats plays won critical acclaim.

Flannery's book and recording, "Dear Harp of My Country: The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore," is considered by scholars to be the definitive study of Moore, the first internationally acclaimed Irish artist. Flannery is listed in the "Oxford Companion to Irish Literature" for his work on Yeats and Moore.

In 1982 Flannery came to Emory to found the Department of Theater Studies and its producing professional company, Theater Emory. In recent years, he has brought many leading Irish artists, scholars and political figures to Atlanta under the auspices of the Yeats Foundation. The foundation recently produced a successful symposium at Emory, "Ulster Roots/Southern Branches: The Scots-Irish Heritage of Northern Ireland and the American South."

Among his other honors, Flannery has been named five times by Irish America magazine as one of the 100 most prominent Irish-Americans. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.) and in 1994 was given the Wild Geese Award for outstanding contributions to Irish culture.

Flannery is a resident of Atlanta (30306).

For more information, or to contact Flannery, call Jean Wynn of the W. B. Yeats Foundation at 404-727-6180 or send email to


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