The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies announces support for a Digital “Reading Early Modern Irish” Project.

Author: Wes Hamrick

The Keough-Naughton Institute will be one of several supporting institutions for a major Digital Humanities project entitled “Reading Early Modern Irish: a Digital Guide to Irish Gaelic (c.1200-1650).”  As part of a multi-year collaboration with universities in Ireland and the United States, including the University of Connecticut, Harvard, Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway, the project will produce a web-based application for learning to read and translate Early Modern Irish in both print and manuscript.

While there are many resources available for learning Modern and Old Irish, there are no comparable materials for learning Early Modern Irish, the written form of the language used from roughly 1200-1650.  There is no comprehensive grammar, no guide to translation and interpretation, and no dictionary.  Consequently, nearly 500 years of Irish writing remains grossly underused by scholars as the difficulty of acquiring the language limits access to a small group of specialists.  The “Reading Early Modern Irish” project addresses this scholarly gap by offering the first systematic introductory apparatus for learning to read, transcribe and translate Early Modern Irish. 

In supporting this project, the Keough-Naughton Institute will stake a prominent position within the still emerging field of Digital Humanities, while also making a major, lasting contribution to Irish Studies scholarship.  Supported by the Thomas Moore and Judith Livingston Fund, the Institute’s Herbert J. Allen Fellow Wes Hamrick will begin preliminary work on the project in the fall of 2014, while also working with historian Brendan Kane at the University of Connecticut in preparing grant applications with the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  These grants would fund ongoing work on the project as well as a post-doctoral fellowship hosted by the Keough-Naughton Institute beginning in the fall of 2015.