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Patrick Bresnihan
Assistant Professor, Geography


Patrick is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Trinity College Dublin. He joined the Department in 2015. Prior to joining Trinity, he was a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in Maynooth University. He holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin (2012) and an MPhil from Cambridge University (2007). He is the Director of the Political Science and Geography Program in Trinity College, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Irish Forum for Natural Capital and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Irish Geography.

I work across the interdisciplinary fields of political ecology, science and technology studies, and environmental anthropology. I have published work on the Irish and European fisheries, urban commons in post-crash Dublin, the financialization of water services, and the poet John Clare.

My current research focuses on rural Ireland, trying to better understand and describe the cultural and ecological legacies of Ireland's modern development. I am focussing on different but connected empirical areas: the history and development of community-owned rural water schemes and infrastructures; the role of state-supported science and technology in transforming Irish agriculture since the early 20th century; and the uneven geographies of Ireland's energy politics, from the cessation of peat extraction in the midlands to the offshoring of wind energy in the Atlantic.

My research is committed to collaborations with those I am learning from and working with, including scientists, activists and artists. As part of this I am interested in experimenting with creative methods and practices. This interest has been shaped by my involvement in the Provisional University ( and the Authority Research Network (

I welcome inquiries concerning supervision of research students in the following areas: critical geographies of rural Ireland; history of environmental thought; environmental politics and governance; the 'green economy' and financialization of nature; social and ecological justice.

I am currently supervising:

Jamie Rohu on Just transitions in the Irish peatlands (IRC-funded)

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Patrick Bresnihan, Water, our relative: Trauma, healing and hydropolitics, Community Development Journal, 2018 Journal Article, 2018

Patrick Bresnihan, Revisiting neoliberalism in the oceans: Governmentality and the biopolitics of 'improvement' in the Irish and European fisheries, Environment & Planning A, 2018 Journal Article, 2018

Patrick Bresnihan, The (Slow) Tragedy of Improvement: Neoliberalism, Fisheries Management & the Institutional Commons, World Development, 2017 Journal Article, 2017

Patrick Bresnihan, Blencowe, C., & Dawney, L., Problems of Hope, Brighton, UK, ARN Press, 2017 Book, 2017

Patrick Bresnihan, Transforming the Fisheries: Neoliberalism, Nature, and the Commons, Lincoln, US and London, UK, University of Nebraska Press, 2016 Book, 2016

Patrick Bresnihan, The Bio-Financialization of Irish Water : New Advances in the Neoliberalization of Vital Services, Utilities Policy, 40, 2016, p115 - 124 Journal Article, 2016

Patrick Bresnihan & Bryne, M., Escape into the City : Everyday Practices of Commoning and the Production of Urban Space in Dublin, Antipode, 47, (1), 2015, p36 - 54 Journal Article, 2015

Patrick Bresnihan, John Clare and the Manifold Commons, Environmental Humanities, 3, 2013, p71 - 91 Journal Article, 2013

Patrick Bresnihan, From Land to Sea : Unsettling Subjectivities, The Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, 1, 2013, p1 - 19 Journal Article, 2013

Research Expertise


  • Title
    • Learning from Group Water Schemes: Community infrastructures for Sustainable Development (WISDOM)
  • Summary
    • Learning from Group Water Schemes is produced and maintained by the WISDOM project based in the Geography Department at Trinity College Dublin. The WISDOM project is an 18-month study funded by Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency on the history and development of community-managed water infrastructures in Ireland known as Group Water Schemes (GWSs). GWSs deliver water supplies to many parts of rural Ireland and account for ~7% of the water sector. GWSs developed in the 1960s and 1970s, responding to the lack of public water supply in rural areas. In the last 20 years, however, GWSs have undergone considerable change within the Irish water sector. The sector has collectively faced new regulatory requirements, challenges from contamination and leakage, infrastructural disrepair, and the restructuring of the public water sector into a semi-state utility. These changes have coincided with significant urban development, an expanding agricultural sector, the economic recession, demographic changes, and new and more frequent extreme weather events across Ireland. The WISDOM project, led by Dr. Patrick Bresnihan, examines the role of GWSs in the Irish water sector to understand how they have endured these pressures and how the work they undertake helps us to re-conceive the complex relationships between water, infrastructures, and people.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Proetection Agency
  • Date From
    • April 2018
  • Date To
    • September 2019