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Dr Helen Conrad O'BriainAdjunct Lecturer

Research and Teaching Interests

Teaching in both the School of English and the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Dr Conrad O'Briain's courses include Medieval Latin, Old English and Old Norse language and literature, Beowulf, palaeography, and Tolkien. 

She has directed PhD's on Beowulf, Riddles and Tolkien, M. Phil. research on Julian of Norwich, female saints of the Old English Martyrology, Elene, the language of treasure in Beowulf, Grendel's mother, Malory's Lyonette, the mutant in science fiction 1930-1960, Pratchett’s ‘Guards’ novels, and death in Ursuala K. Le Guin’s short fiction.  Her own research interests include the theology of Beowulf, medieval sources of science fiction, the influence of Vergilian commentary, and Trinity incunabula. She is joint editor with Dr. Julie Anne Stevens of A Ghostly Genre (Four Courts Press, 2010) and a major contributor to the new Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages.

Dr. Conrad O'Briain is School Librarian. Active in setting up the annual Kemble lectures at Trinity, she is a life member of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. She is a member of the Committee of the Trinity Second Hand Book Sale raising funds for Trinity's special collections. She maintains a strong interest in Indo-European, landscape, and textiles studies, and freely admits to enjoying Georgette Heyer, Lindsay Davis, and O. Douglas. She is an accomplished traditional embroiderer.


  • J. R. R. Tolkien: The Forest and the City, eds  H. Conrad O'Briain and Gerard Hynes (Four Courts: Dublin, 2013)

  • 'Phyllis McGinley and the Liberal Heart,' in Beautiful Strangers: Ireland and the World of the 1950's, eds Gerald Dawe, Darryl Jones and Nora Pelizzari, Reimagining Ireland 46 (Peter Lang: Oxford, 2013), pp. 131-46.

  • 'A Right to Music: New York and Mid-Century Liberal Imagination in the Cricket in Times Square' in Children's Literature and New York City ed. Pádraic Whyte and Keith O'Sullivan (Routledge: New York, 2014), p. 163-79.

  • The Ghost Story from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century: A Ghostly Genre, eds. Helen Conrad O'Briain and Julie Anne Stevens (Four Courts Press: Dublin, 2010)

  • ''The gates of hell shall not prevail against it:' Laudian Ecclesia and Victorian culture wars in the ghost stories of M. R. James' in The Ghost Story from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century: A Ghostly Genre,' pp.47-60

  • Trinity incunable TT.c.11: a home Virgil from the first age of printing, The Long Room 52-3 (2007-2008), pp. 49-57

  • 'Providence and Intertextuality: LeFanu, M. R. James, and Dorothy Sayers' The Nine Tailors in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies 9 (February, 2011)

  • 'Aetas Virgiliana, Horatiana, and Ovidiana,' 'Anthology,' 'Biblical Epic,' 'Brehon Laws,' 'Bridget of Kildare,' 'Canon of Scripture,' 'Columba,' 'Commentary,' 'John Comyn of Dublin,' 'Connacht,' 'Copernicus,' 'Cormac's Chapel,' 'Didactic Poetry,' 'Diocese of Elmham,' 'Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus, 'Fili,' 'Fleta,' 'Imitatio,' 'Kilkenny (city),' 'Knitting,' 'Latin Epic in the Middle Ages,' 'O'Connor Dynasty,' 'Planctus,' 'Sedulius Scottus,' 'Statutes of Kilkenny,' 'Uí Neill,' 'Western Sea Zone in the Early Middle Ages,' 'Topos' and 'Transubstantiation.' in The Oxford English Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 4. vols. ed. Robert E. Bjork (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2010)

  • 'Accentual Verse,' 'Locus Amoenus,' in Facts on File Companion to Pre-1600 British Poetry, ed. Michelle Sauer (Facts on File: New York, 2008)

  • 'Could Women read in the Middle Ages?' in Misconceptions about the Middle Ages, eds. Stephen Harris and B. L. Grigsby (Routledge: New York, 2007)

  • 'Chaucer, technology and the rise of science fiction in English,' in On Literature and Science, ed. Philip Coleman (Four Courts: Dublin , 2007)

  • 'Some Reflections on Sir Orfeo's Mirror of Polity' in Studies in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Texts in Honour of John Scattergood, eds. Anne Marie D'Arcy and Alan J. Fletcher (Four Courts: Dublin, 2005), p. 76-90

  • 'A Venetian in England,' Long Room, 48 (2003), p. 27-37.

  • 'Grace and Election in Adomnán's Vita S. Columbae,' Hermathena, 172 (2002), p. 25-38

  • Edited Three Short Essays of Diane MacFarland with an Afterword in Cox, Geoffrey, Jennifer Moreton and Helen Conrad-O' Briain A Tribute to Diana McFarlan (Angela Thirkell Society: London, 2002)

  • Articles on Adamnan, Amalswintha, Boniface/Wynfrith, Columbanus, Marbod, Ottto I, Otto II, Otto III, and Theophano, in The Rise of the Medieval World 500-1300: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Jana K. Schulman (Greenwood Press: Westport Connecticut, 2002)

  • ''Guest Forward' and chapters on Lord of the Rings, Pharsalia, The Elder Edda, The Táin in Epics for Students II, ed. Elizabeth Bellalouna, (Thomson and Gale: Detroit, 2000)

  • with Orlaith O'Sullivan, 'The Book as Pledge: a Fifteenth Century Verse in VK Ms 678,' Journal of the Early Book Society, vol. 3 (2000), p. 210-5.

  • 'The Harrowing of Hell in the Canterbury Glosses and its Context in Augustinian and Insular Exegesis' in Text and Gloss: Studies in Insular Learning and Literature Presented to Joseph Donovan Pheifer, eds. Helen Conrad O'Briain, Anne Marie D'Arcy and John Scattergood (Four Courts: Dublin, 1999)

  • Beowulf and Aeneid, in Epics for Students I, ed. Marie Lazzari and Elizabeth Bellalouna (Thomson and Gale:Detroit, 1997)

  • Bede's Use of Classical Poetry: In Genesim, De temporum ratione, Epistula ad Wicthedum, Hermathena 161 (1996), pp. 43-52

  • with Thomas O'Loughlin, 'The Baptism of Tears in Early Anglo-Saxon Sources,' Anglo-Saxon England 22 (1993), pp. 65-84

Works in Revision

  • 'Place and the Distortion of Time in Lucy Boston's 'Green Knowe''

Work in Progress

  • 'Ipsi sibi sunt lex:' Beowulf and Ripheus, Servius and Dante’

  • (with Jane Carroll) ''Benary-Isbert's The Wicked Enchantment:' The Gothic for Children''

  • 'Psalm text reminiscences in Beowulf: Implications'

  • Grammar and Gardens: Georgics IV, lines 125-148 and Trinity Incunabula’


Dr Helen Conrad O'Briain
Room 4026
Arts Building
Trinity College
Dublin 2

Telephone: + 353 1 896 1515

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