Faculty Fellow: Diarmuid Ó Giolláin

Author: Margaret Lloyd

Diarmuid O Giollain

Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Professor of Irish Language and Literature and Concurrent Professor of Anthropology

Diarmuid Ó Giolláin’s intellectual home is the intersection of folklore and languages.  Extensive traveling, researching and reading in areas of history, sociology, philosophy and anthropology permit him a wide base for his studies.  His book Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity(2000), won the Katherine Briggs Folklore Prize in 2000. His second book, An Dúchas Agus an Domhan, written in Irish, which in three sections “time” “place” and ‘community” examines what folklore is and is not, places it in its historical perspective and considers the value of folklore to all social classes.  

Diarmuid studied Irish and Folklore at University College Dublin. He taught in the Folklore department at UCC for many years before coming to Notre Dame, following a 2008-2009 term as the Patrick B. O’Donnell Visiting Chair of Irish Studies. Diarmuid’s current interests include the intellectual history of the notion of folk culture within the geographical overlap of between provence, nation and colony.  He is studying how these areas are interpreted in folklore study, particularly in Ireland, France and Italy. The relative values of oral tradition versus high culture in producing an ‘authentic’ national voice differ according to the context. 
This year, he teaches “Introduction to Irish Folklore” and “Folklore and Irish History” which discuss the 19th century concept of folklore and its application in Ireland. ‘Irish Folklore’ is usually understood in terms of three main and related domains: "folk narrative" (or oral literature), "folk belief" (or popular religion) and "material folk culture."
With Chris Fox and Declan Kiberd, Diarmuid recently co-chaired a “Sovereignty, Debt and Equity in a Time of Crisis” which examined the financial crisis and its impact in Ireland. The conference drew not just on the expertise of economists, but on a distinguished group of scholars in the humanities and law and of journalists who have been to the fore in Irish debate on the crisis. While the focus was on Ireland, the chairs believe it was a test case for the wider Europe and postcolonial world.  
Diarmuid currently is planning the 2014 Irish Seminar in Dublin titled “'The Vernacular Imagination,” which promises to be a multidisciplinary approach to the question of the people, vernacular language and popular culture in modern (if not only in modern) societies."