Obituary: Patricia Dolan / Professor loved Irish authors

Aug. 1, 1925 - June 16, 2011

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Patricia Dolan lived for Irish literature. She taught W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, John Millington Synge and other great Emerald Isle authors as a founding member of the faculty at the Community College of Allegheny County, and she debated the prose of her literary heroes with friends and fellow scholars.

She even made a second home with her late husband, Harry, in Dunquin, County Kerry, Ireland, where the two summered in a historic cottage overlooking the hilly Blasket Islands.

Ms. Dolan died Thursday of congestive heart failure. She was 85.

Born in McKeesport to an Irish family, Ms. Dolan would stay in the Pittsburgh area for most of her life, except to travel and stay in Dunquin.

She was so well-respected in Irish literary scholarly circles that she served as director of the Killartan International School in County Galway, Ireland, in 1989, and, according to her son Harry Jr., now of Jersey City, N.J., she also held a post at the Sligo Yeats Society, an institute dedicated to the works and memory of the Irish poet and playwright.

"She was a really vibrant woman who took great pride in her teaching career," Mr. Dolan said. "While Irish and British literature were obviously among her main interests, her primary interest was her four sons."

He said his mother was particularly enraptured by Yeats' correspondences with Irish theatrical matriarch Lady Gregory.

"She was quite taken with his love poems to Lady Gregory," he said. "She thought his poetry was very expressive and loved the way he summed up Irish life."

Mr. Dolan remembered fondly some of his mother's experiences in Ireland, describing how local children in Dunquin enjoyed her sweet, homemade lemonade.

"The locals were very fond of her; she had quite a following over there," he said. "A lot of the kids over there remember my mother as the woman who used to make lemonade and give it to them."

A longtime CCAC colleague and fellow English professor, Elaine Supowitz of Squirrel Hill, recalled how she and Ms. Dolan used to fervently discuss Irish literature.

"It was a great collegial partnership," she said. "We often talked about literature and often debated" the works of great British and Irish authors.

Ms. Supowitz said Ms. Dolan had a "very effective teaching style," noting that "she had students come back after years" to visit and chat with her, and pointing out that Joyce's "Dubliners" was among her favorite works to teach.

In addition to Harry Jr., Ms. Dolan is survived by three other sons, Craig of Bel Air, Md.; Sean of Rockwood, Pa., and Patric of Brielle, N.J.; and six grandchildren.

A Mass was celebrated Tuesday.

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