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Irish & Celtic Studies research at Ulster University is regarded as being at the forefront of Celtic Studies internationally, with our researchers carrying out individual research across the breadth of the discipline, in particular Early and Modern Irish Literature, Celtic Philology and Linguistics, Irish and European Ethnology and Folklore, Manuscript and Textual Studies and Revivalism.

Ulster researchers also sit on a wide range of national and international bodies, edit a variety of scholarly journals and direct a number of international research networks including Societas Celto-Slavica. The latest colloquium of the Societas, inaugurated at Ulster’s Coleraine campus in 2005, was held in Quimper (Brittany, France) in June 2018.

The latest announcement is that Dr Maxim Fomin, Research Director – Modern Languages and Linguistics at Ulster University, has been appointed Visiting Professor at University of Western Brittany (Brest) at the Centre for Research in Breton and Celtic (CRBC) for five years.

Since 2017, Dr Fomin has been the Irish lead of a two-year, European Union certified Master’s degree programme (via Erasmus) entitled ‘Celtic languages and Cultures in Contact’, and initially its co-founder with Professor Gary German of the Centre for Breton and Celtic Research (CRBC). This year sees the fourth year of the programme and it recruits each year between 15-20 students, with several of its graduates moving on to do PhD projects at Ulster University, Harvard, Stanford and Limerick. CRBC’s Master’s programme is now seen as the most diverse and wide-ranging post-doctoral taught programme in Celtic Studies in Europe.

Within this collaboration, a number of BA and PhD students at Ulster availed of the opportunity to visit Brest as part of the Erasmus agreement to spend one semester at CRBC and to attend summer school in Breton and Celtic Studies.

The partnership with University of Western Brittany has had many successes to date, with links to Brittany going back to the 1990s when Prof Séamus Mac Mathúna (Emeritus) and Prof Francis Favereau organised a first conference on links and parallels between Medieval Ireland and Brittany at Rennes.  Ulster has recently welcomed a PhD researcher, Ms Manon Metzger, who joined us after graduating from this Master’s programme. She won the highly competitive Northern Bridge Consortium (NBC) scholarship and is working on an adaptation of the Holy Grail story from Old French into Middle Irish in 15th century. She will be taking a course in Old Irish at Trinity College Dublin next year to improve her linguistic skills as part of her study training and has just been awarded a Large Grant (c. €7,000 from NBC) to do this.

The University is also undertaking a project in dialectology between Dr Art J Hughes and Dr Daniel Le Bris (Brest) studying the dialects of Irish and Breton.

Dr Maxim Fomin, Research Director – Modern Languages and Linguistics, said:

“Following the highly competitive process of nomination, internal vetting and peer-review by the University of Western Brittany’s Council, it is an honour to have been appointed Visiting Professor at the Centre for Research in Breton and Celtic for 5 years.

“This appointment will further cement the strong partnership that researchers of Irish & Celtic Studies at Ulster enjoy with our academic colleagues in Brest, focusing on our Master’s programme which will enable new stream of talented scholars to join doctoral programmes at Ulster and elsewhere. They will  follow up on the previous research initiatives on the origins of Celtic Studies in the 19th century Europe, Irish and Breton maritime heritage, Arthurian Studies, organising international conferences, PhD researcher-led workshops, staff exchanges and research projects.”