One of the main problems I have with the whole Cassidy story is the fact that he was a professor of Irish Studies at the New College of California. Cassidy was able to use this title to gain credibility. But how on Earth did anyone give him a job as an academic? How was he qualified for the job?
The usual pattern is that someone gets a primary degree, then they go on to do a Master’s and then a Doctorate, or sometimes they just go from primary degree to Doctorate. After that there are various stages in different systems, but basically there are several kinds of lecturer and then you become a professor.
There are exceptions, of course. If Seamus Heaney wants to become a professor of English in your university, you make room for him, doctorate or no doctorate, or if Martin Scorsese wanted to be a professor of Film Studies, any university would accommodate him and quite rightly so. The body of work and the experience that these people have is worth a hundred doctorates.
Cassidy seems to have had a primary degree from Cornell University but the Wikipedia article on his life makes no mention of any postgraduate degrees, either Master’s or Doctorate. He doesn’t seem to have published any books or written any academic papers.
Cassidy was no Heaney or Scorsese, though he obviously had some talents. He apparently wrote some scripts for television and film but his name is not mentioned on IMDB. He produced a documentary about Northern Ireland called Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs, but I can’t comment on it because I have never seen it and it’s not available on youtube. He worked as a professional musician and cut a jazz album. But it is hard to see how anyone could justify making him a professor. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of better qualified people with doctorates, academic experience, knowledge of Irish.
New College of California seems to have been an odd institution. It seems to have been run autocratically and it eventually collapsed in 2008 amid allegations of incompetence and corruption.
Interestingly, I found this comment on Michael Patrick Brady’s review of the book at http://www.michaelpatrickbrady.com/blog/complete-blarney-daniel-cassidys-how-the-irish-invented-slang/ It was added to the comments in 2008:
“The horse pucky just gets deeper and deeper. From what I hear, one of the only profs still getting paid at NCOC is Danny Cassidy. This is the same guy who trolled New College students on a message board when they were attempting to unite and fight the sinister system!!! Cassidy used an anonymous email address, with the name Camog49, to harass students and faculty from the Activism and Social Change MA program. Ironically, the board was called stop the silence and Cassidy was trying to scare students into silence. Cassidy’s final trolling email included in this package was sent from Cassidys non-anonymous email address. BUSTED!!!! I wonder if WASC knows about this yet. That guy shouldn’t be teaching anyone. What shameful behavior, trolling students who are trying to do what the school taught them. And using his beloved Irish slang in the process. Ironic, no?”
Clearly another Cassidy fan!
P.S. When I wrote this, I still thought Cassidy had a degree. Since writing it, I have been informed by Cassidy’s sister (and this was confirmed by the Cornell Registrar) that Cassidy flunked his degree at Cornell. In other words, he had no academic qualifications at all but was still employed by NCoC and permitted to swan around the States and Ireland pretending to be a professor. What a fake!