Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Irish culture and heritage: under the research spotlight

To mark St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish Research Council has today released details of research projects currently underway that focus on issues of relevance to the national holiday.

Research topics range from the impact of ‘Darby O’Gill’ on Americans’ perceptions of Ireland, to Ireland’s influence on Shakespearean performances, and the way in which the figure of St. Patrick evolved in writings from the 7th to the 12th Centuries.

Commenting today, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “There is a wealth of research underway in Ireland on topics relating to our culture and heritage and, indeed, on issues of direct relevance to the life and legacy of St. Patrick. To mark St. Patrick’s Day this year, the Irish Research Council is celebrating researchers who are contributing in these areas.

“From investigating how traditional singing is adapting in the 21st century to analysing news production for the Irish diaspora, the range of research being undertaken will enrich our understanding of Irish culture and what it means to be Irish.”

Researchers being celebrated by the Irish Research Council this week include:
  • From Kavanagh to Disney: Darby O’Gill and the Construction of Irish Identity – Brian McManus, Postgraduate Scholar, Trinity College Dublin

    The fictional world of Darby O’Gill is the main focus of this research: Brian McManus is examining the role the character played in the construction of Irish identity since its creation in 1901. The research proposes to re-evaluate the reputation of Darby O’Gill as a by-word for negative racial stereotyping of Irish people, and a promoter of a sort of “Americanised inauthentic Irishness”.
  • Irishness and Shakespearean Performance: Theatre, Culture, National Identity – Emer McHugh, Postgraduate Scholar, NUI Galway

    This research project is investigating how social, political and cultural influences – such as the Troubles, Europeanisation and globalisation – have impacted on the performance of Shakespearean plays.
  • The Evolution of Patrick as a Patron Saint from the 7th to 12th Century – Elizabeth Dawson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Royal Irish Academy

    Through this research project, a thorough account is being constructed of the ways in which the figure of St Patrick evolved, through his associated hagiography, from the 7th to the 12th Century.
  • Engendering and Safeguarding the Social Life of Irish Traditional Singing – Carrie Dike, Postgraduate Scholar, University of Limerick

    This research focuses on how traditional singing in Ireland is being brought into the 21st Century, and aims to answer how the Irish model for engendering and safeguarding heritage can apply to the broader world of sustaining intangible cultural heritage.
  • Diasporic Mediations: The Influence of Cultural Identities on Irish Diasporic News Production – Niamh Kirk, Postgraduate Scholar, Dublin City University

    How is Irish heritage and culture represented by diaspora journalists? This is the question at the heart of this research project, which aims to enhance communications between Ireland and the diaspora press and better understand the role played by diaspora media in amplifying Ireland‘s voice on the global stage.
  • Hyphenating Irishness: Performing Irish Identity in an Intercultural Ireland – Justine Nakase, Postgraduate Scholar, NUI Galway

    This research focuses on identity formation at individual and collective levels, in an increasingly intercultural Ireland. By studying the intersection of race, identity and performance in contemporary Ireland, the research is exploring what it now means to be Irish.
  • Saint Brigit's Cult in Ireland and Europe: A Comparative Investigation into the Adaptation, Growth and Success of Medieval Female Sanctity – Shane Lordan, Postdoctoral Fellow, University College Dublin

    This project is exploring St. Brigit’s cult and its European dimension, with the aim of providing a better understanding of women’s place in medieval Christianity.

The work of these Irish researchers is being highlighted by the Irish Research Council as part of the #LoveIrishResearch initiative, which aims to increase public awareness of the important research being conducted in higher education institutions throughout the country.

Further information is available at: