The International Research Consortium for Irish and Scottish Studies (IRCISS), was formed out of the advisory board for the International Diaspora Network project run under the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies (Phase 2).  The founding participants of the consortium were Victoria University, Wellington and Otago University in New Zealand, the Universities of Toronto, Guelph and Queen’s (Kingston) in Canada, and the University of Notre Dame and Boston College in the USA, as well as the ISAI Universities.

The IRCISS has since 2008 run a number of international conferences. The first conference in 2008 was held in Victoria University, Wellington under the direction of Brad Patterson, the second in Toronto and Guelph under the direction of David Wilson (St Michael’s College, University of Toronto) and Graeme Morton (Scottish Studies Centre, Guelph).The theme was Nations: Diasporas: Identities and explored both our understanding of the nature of ‘diaspora’ in Irish and Scottish contexts, and the specific experiences of, and encounters between, various migrant groups, particularly in New Zealand.  

The 2009 ISAI conference on the theme of ‘Global Nations? – Irish and Scottish Expansion since the Sixteenth Century’ drew both on the ISAI universities and on some of the IRCISS universities for its contributors, the latter including Prof. David Wilson from Toronto, Prof. Marjory Howes from Boston College, and Prof. Peter Kuch from Otago. The conference addressed what were, in terms of ISAI conferences, new areas of research: ‘Gender, History, Heritage’, ‘Devolution and Democracy’ and ‘Diasporic Literature’, as well ‘Language and Politics’A keynote lecture was given by Roy Foster (Oxford) on ‘Another Country: Politicising National Tales in Ireland and Scotland under the Union’.

In 2010 the IRCISS conference was on the theme of ‘Irish and Scottish Encounters with Indigenous Peoples’ – a theme chosen specifically to develop issues which had been raised by the Wellington conference, and which were addressed in relation to Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the West Indies, and, in the keynote address by Colin Calloway (Dartmouth College), to the parallels between indigenous peoples’ experiences in North America and the experiences of Highlanders in Scotland. The keynote speakers brought together some who had spoken at the previous conferences (Brad Patterson, Massey, at the 2009 ISAI conference; Don Akenson, Queen’s, Kingston, at the Wellington conference), some new contributors from the IRCISS group (e.g. Kevin Kenny, Boston College) and speakers from universities new to the IRCISS network (Ann McGrath, Australia National University).

The dynamic of research development produced by these conferences has helped consolidate international recognition of Irish-Scottish studies as an area of intellectual significance, helping embed Irish-Scottish studies in places such as Otago, which have mirrored the development of the Centre in Aberdeen, and attracting the attention of scholars who – and institutions which – would previously have regarded themselves as concerned only with one national tradition.

A further IRCISS conference took place in Vancouver, BC (June 2013):

IRCISS is in the process of planning a further event in Australia (2014/15).