The Eleanor Knott Memorial Conference is being hosted under the rubric of the Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures priority research theme in the Trinity Long Room Hub. Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures (MBPC) is a broad, interdisciplinary theme which covers the academic expanse of Trinity’s campus. The ‘manuscript’ component of the MBPC theme is particularly relevant to the research carried out by the scholars of the Department of Irish and Celtic Languages, as we engage with manuscript materials on a daily basis and indeed rely on these primary materials. The Manuscripts and Archives Research Library is a vast repository at our disposal; its wealth of material alone adds to the significance of the MBPC research theme, as well as to the continued relevance of the academic pursuits within the Arts and Humanities.
Currently, our doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Irish and Celtic Languages are undertaking projects related to textual criticism and philological matters in Early, Early Modern and Modern Irish literature. Dr Chantal Kobel, a recently conferred PhD candidate, has completed an edition and translation with critical notes of the Old Irish tale Aided Chonchobuir ‘The Death of Conchobor’. Dr Nicole Volmering also joins the department this year as an IRC postdoctoral fellow from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and intends to complete a critical edition of the metrical ‘Martyrology of Óengus’, Félire Óengusso. The Department of Irish at TCD is also well-known for its many contributions to our understanding of Irish Bardic Poetry: most recently, Dr Eoin Mac Cárthaigh published a veritable tome of work entitled The Art of Bardic Poetry: A New Edition of Irish Grammatical Tracts I; Prof. Damian McManus and Dr Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh produced A Bardic Miscellany in 2010; and the department made available the Bardic Poetry Database, directed by Prof. McManus, which is a searchable online repository of around 600 poems. All of these projects depend on the research of primary materials, i.e. the manuscripts and early books, housed in Trinity College Dublin and various institutions across Ireland and beyond. From secular to religious material and medical to legal tracts, the contents of these Irish language manuscripts are written accounts of the history of Irish society.
Through the prolonged support of the MBPC research theme in the Long Room Hub, specialists, such as those in the Department of Irish and Celtic Languages, will continue to produce editions, translations and commentary on texts which would otherwise be lost to obscurity.