Conference Celebrates Esteemed Irish Scholar Eleanor Knott

Posted on: 03 May 2016

‘I do not remember a time when I was not deeply interested in everything Irish.’

These words belong to Eleanor Knott (1886-1975), a scholar proficient in all periods of the Irish language and its literature. Indeed, it has been said that throughout her career she acquired a knowledge of the Irish language which has not been exceeded.

Knott’s work as a scholar and researcher took centre stage at her alma mater, Trinity College Dublin, recently where a one-day conference opened a discourse about current research in the field of Early and Modern Irish by presenting a series of papers which advance Knott's own research.

Eleanor Knott’s passion for Irish began as a teenager, when she taught herself to read Modern Irish, encouraged by her parents. Although initially intimidated by the prospect of Old Irish, she soon embraced and excelled at this too.

Throughout the various stages of her working life, Eleanor Knott became synonymous with exemplary scholarship. This is highlighted by the fact that she was appointed in 1911 to help edit the Dictionary of the Irish Language at the Royal Irish Academy, her association with which lasted over 40 years.

Indeed her long service to the Academy was recognised in 1949 when she was one of the first four women elected as a member. In addition she was one of the first female lecturers appointed to Trinity College Dublin, which established a Chair of Early Irish for her in 1939. 

Event organisers Christina Cleary and Chantal Kobel, from the Department of Irish and Celtic Languages at Trinity, commented: “It is a testament to the quality of Knott's contributions to Early and Early Modern Irish that her scholarship is still relevant many decades later.”

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