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MIC Student Scoops Global Award for Research on 18th Century Limerick Poetry

Keith O Riain pictured outside by a tree wearing a white t-shirt and blue shorts

Keith Ó Riain, who recently completed his final year of undergraduate study at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), has been announced as the Global Winner in the History category of the 2020 Global Undergraduate Awards. The Limerick native is one of 25 students worldwide to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the undergraduate research of some of the world’s brightest students across a variety of disciplines.

Keith, who hails from Crecora in Co. Limerick, is one of just three Irish winners and the only winner from a Limerick or Munster third-level institution. His work was chosen from over 4,000 submissions from across the globe following a rigorous and lengthy judging process led by over 400 expert academics worldwide.

Having recently completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gaeilge and History at MIC, Keith received the award in recognition of his research into the mentalité (collective ideas, values and beliefs of a community) of the Maigue-side district of County Limerick in the period c. 1730-1770. Keith’s research provides a more comprehensive interpretation of Gaelic Irish mentalité than has been previously achieved by historians, and offers a unique insight into the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs of the Gaelic Irish community in mid eighteenth-century Limerick by drawing on the Irish language poetry of Filí na Máighe (The Maigue Poets).

Reacting to his win, Keith said, “I hadn’t anticipated it at all! To be highly commended in my field of study at a global level is a huge honour in itself but to be a Global Winner is a tremendous compliment. Recognition of this kind is rare and I find it very heartening and a great encouragement for the future.”

He added, “I worked hard on my dissertation because the subject fascinates me and I got great encouragement from my lecturers, to whom I’m enormously grateful, particularly Dr Breandán Ó Cróinín (Head of Roinn na Gaeilge) who proof read my translations, Dr Éilís Ní Dheá (Department of Language and Literacy Education) who made suggestions on primary sources, but especially Dr Liam Chambers who supervised it and made it an enjoyable as well as beneficial experience.”

Keith’s work focuses on the major aspects of mentalité such as Jacobitism, penal legislation and religious issues but also lesser discussed themes such as alcohol, community, intellectual activity, women, and superstition. His winning paper, ‘Do b’ait liomsa spóirt ‘s amhrán: The Popular Concerns of Gaelic Irish Mentalité in the Mid Eighteenth-Century’, focuses on themes that were hitherto unexamined by historians but are nevertheless historically significant, and engages with the vernacular literature of County Limerick to demonstrate its wealth and value as historical source material in social and local history.  

Congratulating Keith on his achievement, Professor Michael Breen, Dean of Liberal Arts at MIC, said, “We are immensely proud of Keith’s achievement in winning this global award. Having Arts students from MIC perform at this level in a global competition is a reminder of the quality of both the Faculty of Arts staff and their students. Keith’s work is further evidence of how the College’s research profile, by both Arts Faculty and Arts students, is at world class level.”

Dr Liam Chambers, Head of the Department of History at MIC, who supervised Keith’s dissertation, expressed his delight at Keith’s win, saying “Keith’s undergraduate dissertation was an outstanding scholarly work. His research drew on a very impressive array of challenging sources, in Irish and English, to produce a thought-provoking analysis of Gaelic Irish mentalité in eighteenth-century Ireland. Keith’s success at the awards is a thoroughly-deserved recognition of both his abilities and his potential.”

Keith was also recently awarded a Departmental Assistantship with MIC’s Roinn na Gaeilge, where he is continuing his research into eighteenth-century Gaelic Irish poetry as he begins his research masters under the supervision of Dr Breandán Ó Cróínín, Head of Roinn na Gaeilge at MIC. Keith said, “My research will hopefully provide the first ever edited collection of poetry by the eighteenth-century Cork poet, Éadbhard de Nógla, along with textual analysis of the poems and a study of his life and work. I intend to bring the historical training I gained from my undergraduate dissertation to bear on this work because I believe that it is only within the history of the period that the poetry can be discussed accurately. I know that my undergraduate dissertation will be of great benefit to me for this project and for the future. “

Describing his time as an undergraduate student at MIC, Keith said, “My experience at MIC has been first class. The Bachelor of Arts programme here has a great reputation and was my first choice when leaving school. The College’s excellent reputation is matched by the actual experience of studying here.”

He added, “I received the best of instruction and supervision from the academic staff at MIC and the whole college community of staff and students made my time at the College priceless. I’ve made friends for life, been given opportunities to develop and pursue my interests and gained valuable professional experience by getting to spend a semester on Inis Oírr and another with local government. Tá an-cháil ag an gcoláiste ó thaobh na Gaeilge de freisin agus bhaineas sár-thaitneamh as an mbealach neamhfhoirmiúil go n-úsáidtear an teanga anseo (The College also has a great reputation for the Irish language and I really enjoyed the informal way the language is used here).”

Keith's dissertation also recently won the Limerick Centre for Early Modern Studies Undergraduate Dissertation Prize for 2020. The Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick supports the research activities of scholars of the history and culture of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) and University of Limerick (UL).

This is the second time that a student from MIC has been announced as a Global Winner at the Undergraduate Awards. In 2012, Patrick Burke, who is currently a lecturer in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at MIC, was the overall winner in the Teacher Education category for his entry 'Rewarding results in reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic: Literacy and numeracy today and during payment-by-results in Irish primary schools (1872-1899)'.

Baineann Mac Léinn CMgS Dámhachtain Domhanda amach ar Thaighde ar Fhilíocht Luimnigh ón 18ú hAois

Fógraíodh gurb é Keith Ó Riain, a chríochnaigh a bhliain dheiridh de staidéar fochéime i gColáiste Mhuire Gan Smál (CMgS) le déanaí, mar Bhuaiteoir Domhanda i gcatagóir na Staire de na Dámhachtainí Fochéime Domhanda 2020. Is as Luimneach ó dhúchas do Keith agus é ar dhuine de 25 mac léinn ar fud an domhain ar bronnadh an gradam mór le rá seo orthu, tugann na Gradaim seo aitheantas do thaighde fochéime na mac léinn is éirimiúla ar domhan thar réimsí taighde éagsúla.

Tá Keith, arbh as Craobh Chomhartha, Contae Luimnigh ó dhúchas dó, ar dhuine de thriúr bhuaiteoir Éireannach agus an t-aon bhuaiteoir ó institiúid tríú leibhéal i Luimneach nó i gCúige Mumhan. Roghnaíodh a chuid oibre as níos mó ná 4,000 aighneacht ó ar fud na cruinne mar thoradh ar phróiseas dian breithiúnais, faoi stiúir os cionn 400 saineolaí acadúil ar fud an domhain.

Tar éis dó Céim sna Dána sa Ghaeilge agus sa Stair a dhéanamh ag CMgS, ghnóthaigh Keith an dámhachtain mar aitheantas dá thaighde ar an mentalité (dearcadh comhchoiteann agus intinn na coitiantachta) cois na Máighe i gContae Luimnigh sa tréimhse c. 1730-1770. Tugann taighde Keith léirmhíniú níos cuimsithí ar mentalité Gaelach na hÉireann ná mar a tugadh go dtí seo ag staraithe, agus tugann sé léargas ar leith ar smaointe, ar dearcthaí agus ar chreidimh phobal Gaelach na hÉireann i Luimneach i lár an ochtú haois déag trí chíoradh a dhéanamh ar fhilíocht Ghaeilge Fhilí na Máighe.

Ag labhairt faoin mbua, dúirt Keith, “Ní rabhas ag súil leis ar chor ar bith! Onóir mhór dob ea é chun a bheith molta go h-ard i mo ghort roghnaithe ach an-onóir is ea chun a bheith i mo bhuaiteoir domhanda. Is annamh an saghas aithint í seo agus tá sé an-mhisniúil agus spreagúil don todhchaí.

Bhí an méid seo le rá aige chomh maith, “D’oibrigh mé go diachallach ar mo thráchtas mar táim an-tógtha leis an ábhar agus fuaireas spreagadh i gcónaí ó mo léachtóirí agus táim sár-bhuíoch díobh go léir. Don Dr Breandán Ó Cróinín a léigh m’aistriúcháin, don Dr Eilís Ní Dheá (an Roinn Teanga & Litearthachta), a mhol bunfhoinsí dom ach go háirithe don Dr Liam Chambers, a stiúraigh an tráchtas agus dhein sé é ar bhealach a bhí taitneamhach agus tairbheach araon.”

Díríonn taighde Keith ar phríomhghnéithe mentalité, cosúil leis an Seacaibíteachas, reachtaíocht na bpéindlithe agus saincheisteanna reiligiúnacha ach déantar cíoradh chomh maith ar théamaí nach ndéantar plé fúthu chomh minic san, alcól, pobal, gníomhaíocht intleachtúil, mná agus piseoga ina measc. Díríonn a pháipéar buacach, ‘Do b’ait liomsa spóirt ‘s amhrán: The Popular Concerns of Gaelic Irish Mentalité in the Mid Eighteenth-Century’ ar théamaí nach ndearna iniúchadh orthu ag staraithe go dtí seo ach atá suntasach mar sin féin ó thaobh na staire de, téann sé i ngleic le litríocht dhúchasach Chontae Luimnigh chun a saibhreas agus a luach mar bhunábhar stairiúil sa stair shóisialta agus áitiúil a léiriú.

Ag déanamh comhghairdeachais le Keith as a éacht, dúirt an tOllamh Michael Breen, Déan na nDán i gCMgS, “Táimid thar a bheith bródúil as éacht Keith an duais dhomhanda seo a bhaint amach. Cuireann éacht mhic léinn ó Dhámh na nDán sa chomórtas domhanda seo éirimiúlacht agus ardchaighdeán foireann agus mic léinn na Dáimhe araon. Is fianaise bhreise í obair Keith den tslí ina bhfuil próifíl taighde an Choláiste, bainte amach ag mic léinn agus baill dáimhe na nDán, ag feidhmiú ag leibheál den chéad scoth"

Chuir an Dr Liam Chambers, Ceann na Roinne Staire ag MIC, a bhí mar fheitheoir ar thráchtas Keith, in iúl go raibh an-áthas air an dea-scéal a chloisint, ag rá “Keith’s undergraduate dissertation was an outstanding scholarly work. His research drew on a very impressive array of challenging sources, in Irish and English, to produce a thought-provoking analysis of Gaelic Irish mentalité in eighteenth-century Ireland. Keith’s success at the awards is a thoroughly-deserved recognition of both his abilities and his potential.”

Bronnadh Cúntóireacht Roinne ar Keith le déanaí le Roinn na Gaeilge CMgS, agus é ag leanúint lena chuid taighde ar fhilíocht Ghaeilge an ochtú haois déag agus é ag cur tús lena mháistreacht taighde faoi fheitheoireacht an Dr Bhreandáin Uí Chróinín, Ceann Roinn na Gaeilge CMgS. Deir Keith, “Maidir leis an dtaighde atá fé chaibidil agam fé láthair, táim dóchasach go soláthróidh sé an chéad eagrán filíochta ó fhile Chorcaí ón hochtú haois déag, Éadbhard de Nógla, le hanailís téacsúla ar na dánta agus staidéar ar a shaol agus a shaothar curtha leis. Tá sé mar intinn agam chun an oiliúint staire a fhuaireas ó mo thráchtas fochéime a úsáid don taighde seo mar is í mo thuairim ná gurb é laistigh den stair na tréimhse amháin gur féidir linn an fhilíocht a phlé go cruinn. Táim cinnte go mbeidh mo thráchtas fochéime an-thairbheach dom don taighde seo agus don todhchaí.” 

Ag labhairt faoina thréimhse mar mhac léinn fochéime ag CMgS, dúirt Keith Bhí mo thaithí féin ag CMgS den chéad scoth. Tá an-cháil ar an BA anseo, bhí sé mar chéad rogha agam agus mé ag fágáil na scoile. Tá an taithí mar mhac léinn anseo chomh-ard leis an ard-cháil atá ag an gColáiste.

Lean sé ar aghaidh, Fuaireas an oiliúint agus an mhaoirseacht is fearr ón bhfoireann acadúil agus cuirim an-luach ar phobal an choláiste ar fad, ‘sé sin na mic léinn agus an fhoireann. Dheineas cairde don saol, tugadh deiseanna chun mo chuid suime a fhorbairt dom agus fuaireas taithí gairmiúla le seimeastair caite agam ar Inis Oírr agus ceann eile caite leis an rialtas áitiúil. Tá an-cháil ar an gcoláiste ó thaobh na Gaeilge de freisin agus bhaineas sár-thaitneamh as an mbealach neamhfhoirmiúil go n-úsáidtear an teanga anseo. 

Bhuaigh tráchtas Keith an Dámhachtain don Tráchtas Fochéime ó Ionad Luimnigh do Léann na Nua-Aoise Luath do 2020. Tacaíonn Ionad na Nua-Aoise Luath, Luimneach le gníomhaíochtaí taighde scoláirí ar stair agus ar chultúr an séú haois déag, an seachtú haois déag agus an ochtú haois déag i gColáiste Mhuire gan Smál (CMgS) agus Ollscoil Luimnigh (OL).

Seo an dara huair gur bhain mac léinn ó CMgS amach dámhachtain mar Bhuaiteoir Domhanda ag na Dámhachtainí Fochéime. I 2012, ba é Patrick Burke, atá ina léachtóir faoi láthair leis an Roinn Teanga & Litearthachtas i gCMgS, mar an buaiteoir foriomlán sa chatagóir um Oideachas Múinteoirí mar thoradh ar a iontráil 'Rewarding results in reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic: Literacy and numeracy today and during payment-by-results in Irish primary schools (1872-1899)'.