This profile originally appeared in the LMU Newsroom
The prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, appeared at Loyola Marymount University on Friday, Sept. 27, to celebrate the opening of that nation’s first consulate in Los Angeles and support the Irish Studies program in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts.
Varadkar became the youngest Taoiseach — the Gaelic title for Ireland’s head of government — upon taking office in 2017. He is also the first LGBT Taoiseach and first of Indian descent.
Varadkar met with LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., before the event, and was greeted by professors K.J. Peters and Dermot Ryan of the Irish Studies program, and professor Victoria Graf of the School of Education. The event also featured an appearance by California Lieutenant Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who praised the university for its global approach to education.
“Our host university today has championed academic and cultural connections between Ireland and Southern California for many years,” Varadkar said. “Thank you to the president of LMU, Timothy Law Snyder, for hosting us today, and thank you so much for your university’s continued engagement with Ireland, from academic exchanges and initiatives such as the Irish Studies program and Ireland Week. These platforms connect the dynamic, modern, and innovative Ireland with this global center of creativity, this great world city, L.A.”
More than 200 members of the Irish and Irish-American community came to LMU for the event. “It [was] fitting that our first big event with our local community in Southern California was held in the University, given LMU’s long-standing links with Ireland and of course the Irish Studies programme,” said Orla Keane, the Consul General of Ireland to Los Angeles. “We have had such great feedback from the guests about the warm atmosphere at the reception and the beautiful venue. I know that the Taoiseach enjoyed his time here and was taken with the strength of the relationships that already exist in this part of the State.”
The Taoiseach’s stop at LMU came at the end of a two-day trade mission to Los Angeles, which focused on growing Ireland’s film and television industries. Varadkar met with senior executives at studios, networks and streaming companies, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney and Warner Bros.