Thursday 2 May 2019

€1 million funding for Gaelic culture research project

Maynooth academic Professor Patricia Palmer has been awarded a grant of €1 million by the Irish Research Council to create an online resource that will explore a period which she believes is largely neglected in the study of Irish history.

 Her project is called the Macmorris project. The name stands for Mapping Actors and Contexts: Modelling Research in Renaissance Ireland in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century, and it sets out to recover the complexity of Ireland’s transformative years between Henry VIII’s assumption of the kingship of Ireland in 1541 to the Flight of the Earls.

The aim is to create the first annotated and interactive digital map of all cultural players — from poets, patrons and pamphleteers, to translators, travel-writers and administrators — of this rich period in Irish history.

Prof Palmer hopes the map will counter the narrative that it was a doomed society.

“Irish society was anything but a society in freefall, heading inexorably towards defeat,” she says. Rather, it was a remarkably vibrant place, where several cultural traditions and languages flourished, sometimes in dialogue, sometimes clashing. The English newcomers, agents of the conquest, funnelled the energies of the English Renaissance into what was a surprisingly bookish conquest: this was a conflict where words mattered as much as swords.

“Gaelic culture is vibrant; the English vernacular of the Pale is lively and colourful; agents of the Tudor conquest like Edmund Spenser bring the energies — often dark energies — of the English Renaissance to Ireland; and contact with mainland Europe is routine.

“This project will address Ireland’s place in the European Renaissance — another neglected area of historical study.“

Following the award, Prof Patricia Palmer was interviewed by the Kildare Focus radio programme about her digital mapping project. You can listen to the 8-minute interview on SoundCloud by clicking the Kildare FM logo above. The interview begins 58 seconds into the recording.