The first requirement for a potential winner is strictly non-academic: Just attend one of the summer’s leading Irish festivals.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance, attendees at Irish festivals will have a chance to win a scholarship that covers four years of tuition and housing.
The Alliance, which also sponsors the annual George J. Mitchell scholarship program, will have a booth at each of the festivals. A finalist will be drawn after each festival and at the end of the season the Alliance will draw one overall winner.
“Our main mission at the U.S.-Ireland Alliance is to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the island of Ireland for future generations, and there is no better way to do that than through education,” Alliance president Trina Vargo said.
“An education at one of these outstanding universities can often be less costly than attending an American university of comparable quality.”
The scholarship being given away in 2003 will be for the University of Ulster, which has four campuses: Belfast, Coleraine, Jordanstown and Derry.
The winner may use the scholarship or transfer it to someone else and it will be redeemable for a five-year period.
However, the person wishing to avail of the scholarship must apply, qualify, and be accepted to the university to secure the scholarship.
In the next few years, Alliance scholarships will be given for Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University and the University of Limerick.
The Alliance has already attended three festivals including last weekend’s New Jersey Irish Festival in Holmdel. And it is planning to attend others in the coming weeks including the Irish American Heritage Festival, Chicago, July 11-13; Rockland County Feis, Rockland County, N.Y., July 20; New York Irish Festival, Belmont Racetrack, Aug. 15-17; Newport Waterfront Irish Festival, Newport, R.I., Aug. 30-Sept. 1; Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Pittsburgh, Sept. 5-7; Baltimore Irish Festival, Baltimore, Sept. 19-21, and the Celtic Festival, Bethlehem, Pa., Sept. 26-28.
According to Vargo, the average price for a four-year education at a private American college is $27,352, whereas the average to attend an Irish university for a non-resident is $20,140, including generous travel and living stipend estimates.
“We’re delighted to be able to give away a scholarship each year, but we also look forward to providing information at these festivals about the Irish universities so parents and students may consider the Irish university option even if they don’t win the scholarship.”
Kathleen Long, an Alliance staff member, has been working the booth at the festivals.
“Kathleen is a former recipient of a Mitchell Scholarship and will be able to tell festival visitors of her personal experiences living and studying in Ireland,” Vargo said.
Corporate sponsors of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance include the Bank of Ireland, Citywest, CRH, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Diageo Ireland, Elan, IONA Technologies, Jefferson Smurfit Group, Jurys Doyle Hotel Group, Riverdeep and SmartForce. Updated details on the Alliance’s festival plans are available at www.us-irelandalliance.org.