UCD John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies 
UCD John Hume Institute for Global Irish StudiesUCD Crest


‘Landscape in Ireland: Literature, Lore and Identity’

Supervised by: Professor Patricia Kelly, UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics.

Project overview
The research is an exploration of place-lore, and naming processes, in medieval and modern Irish tradition

The Book of Leinster, p.159 (Dindshenchas of Sliab Bladma).  Reproduced with kind permission of The Board of Trinity College Dublin.


  • Compiling a classification of the medieval Dindshenchas (‘Traditional Lore of Famous Places’)according to protagonists, cycles and themes.
  • Assessing the extent, role and significance of place-lore in other medieval Irish texts and in more recent folklore tradition.
  • Overview of folklore about man-made monuments, and exploration of links with landscape archaeology.
  • Determining the role played by place-lore in medieval Irish literature, by examining the extensive corpus of Early Irish Dindshenchas, and the function occupied by place-lore in other genres. Landscape lore in the oral traditions of nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland will also be investigated. Whenever man-made monuments are concerned, these will be studied from an archaeological perspective.

The Paps of Anu, Co. Kerry.

Key research questions

  • Are the landscape lore of medieval Ireland, and that to be found in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland two poles of the same enduring tradition, or are they essentially different?
  • Why was place-lore so important to the medieval literati? How much of it can be traced back to a pagan past, and how much was the learned invention of medieval writers?
  • What are the recurrent themes and ideas in Irish place-lore?

Newgrange, Co. Meath, known in the Dindshenchas as Bruig Meic ind Óc.

A holistic approach, combining the distinct but closely-related disciplines of Early Irish, Irish Folklore and Archaeology, will be adopted. Methods and theories current in all these three disciplines will be applied.