Actor Cillian Murphy and Prof. Pat Dolan Release Irish American Partnership-Funded "Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland"

The Irish American Partnership has supported not only the production of this important work, but  also committed to making Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland available at every secondary  school in Ireland. 

Boston, MA, October 12, 2022 ( – Ionbhá or empathy is a core element of wisdom and a universal  language bringing joy to the everyday, making the unbearable bearable. “We need empathy in schools  just as we need empathy in the world right now,” said actor Cillian Murphy, Patron of the UNESCO Child  and Family Research Centre, and editor of the book.  

The Irish American Partnership has supported the production of the book, and also committed to making  Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland available to every secondary school in Ireland. 

The inception of this book began with Activating Social Empathy; an interactive, student-focused, social  and emotional learning program developed by Dr. Ciara Boylan and Professor Dolan in 2017 as a resource  tool for post-primary schools. The Irish American Partnership found an opportunity to support this critical  and innovative program. In delving into the research and through extensive conversations with its  leaders, the organization believes that “Empathy education is not an add-on—it is the heartbeat of who  we are and needs to be a priority for our young people going forward,” as contributor and secondary  school teacher Hugh Fitzmaurice captures in the Ionbhá book.  

Empathy education in schools aims to help reduce bullying, discrimination, racial profiling and violence,  and increase young peoples’ sense of belonging in school. It is being piloted in Ireland, and is part of an  international project that will be rolled out in the US, Canada, Nigeria, Myanmar, France, Cameroon, and  Tunisia. In the words of Patron Cillian Murphy, empathy “can offer an embrace to difference, and can  bring connection in a disconnected world.” 

“We are on the cusp of the development of empathy as a core part of education systems which will  benefit not just youth but civic society as a whole,” said Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO  Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. 

This collection of contributions shows that empathetic actions have a massive impact. Irish secondary  school students will be empowered to emulate the many compelling examples of activated empathy  throughout the pages. 89 contributors include Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins, Hozier, The Edge,  Imelda May, and citizens from all walks of life, including Irish American Partnership Chief Executive, Mary  Sugrue. 

Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland is edited by Pat Dolan, Cillian Murphy, Gillian Browne and Mark  Brennan, and comprises over 80 contributions from mostly well-known Irish names on empathy. It is  published by Mercier Press on October 6. 

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Since 1986, the Irish American Partnership has raised over $50 million in support of schools, education  programs, and communities across the island of Ireland. Dedicated to connecting Irish America and  friends of Ireland to their Irish heritage through direct giving, the Partnership provides targeted grants to  schools, provides university access scholarships, funds education centers for homeless youth, supports  peace and reconciliation initiatives in Northern Ireland, and champions Gaelic games, Irish arts, culture,  and more. The Partnership is a dynamic, grassroots organization that is respected and endorsed by  leaders across education, community, and government sectors. More: