O'Donnell Lectures

The O’Donnell Lectures in Celtic Studies were established in 1954 in honour of Charles James O’Donnell. Under the terms of his bequest the lectures can examine British or Celtic elements in the English language or in the existing population of England.

The next lecture will take place on 3 May at 5pm at the English Faculty. The speaker will be Dr. Patrick Wadden (Belmont Abbey College). The title of the lecture is '"Which name is more fitting for them?" Irish ethnonyms in Late Antiquity'. This is a public lecture and all are welcome. 

The first O’Donnell Lecturer was J.R.R. Tolkien, who was appointed in 1954 and spoke on ‘English and Welsh.’

Copies of the transcripts of the lectures are held by the Bodleian Library.

2022-23                Dr Rowan Williams: 'The Book of Taliesin': Welsh Identity and Poetic Identities

2021-22                Dr Elizabeth Boyle: ‘Agency, Consent and Loyalty: Royal Fathers and Daughters in Middle Irish Literature’

2020-21                Professor John Carey: 'The Kindred of a Child without a Father: Merlin’s British Forebears and Irish Cousins'

2018-19                Professor David Stifter: 'When is Variation a Dialect? The Case of Old Irish'

2017-18                Professor Helen Fulton: 'Cheapside in Wales: Textiles and Commodities in Medieval Welsh Poetry'

2016-17                Dr Mary-Ann Constantine: 'Curious Traveller: Britain, Britons, and Britishness in Thomas Pennant's 'Tours''

2015-16                Professor Erich Poppe: ‘Chrétien’s British Yvain in England and Wales’

2014-15                Professor Paul Russell: ‘Between Ogam and Runes: the so-called Alphabet of Nemnivus’

2013-14                Professor Huw Pryce: ‘Medieval Welsh History in the Victorian Age’

2012-13                Dr Alex Woolf, Professor Dauvit Broun and Professor Thomas Owen Clancy: ‘Early Medieval Scotland’

2011-12                Professor Ian Wood: ‘The Irish in England and on the Continent in the Seventh Century’

2010-11                Professor Chris Gosden: ‘Magic, Metals, and Art in Iron Age and Early Roman Britain’, and ‘The Histories of Artefacts and Landscapes in the Later Prehistory of Britain’

2009-10                Dr Oliver Padel: ‘Governance and Language in Medieval Cornwall’

2008-09                Professor Máire Herbert: ‘British Saints in Ireland, Irish Saints in Britain: The View from Hagiography’

2007-08                Dr Katherine Forsyth: ‘Rocking the cradle of Scottish Christianity: new work on Whithorn and its carved stones’

2006-07                Professor Peter Schrijver: ‘How Roman Britain made Ireland Celtic’

2005-06                Professor Dafydd Johnston: ‘Translations of Medieval Welsh Poetry: Dafydd ap Gwilym’s ‘Trafferth mewn Tafarn’’

2004-05                Professor Declan Kiberd: ‘Ulysses and Us’             

2003-04                Professor Richard Sharpe: ‘Books from Ireland, Fifth to Ninth Century’    

2002-03                Professor Robin Chapman-Stacey: ‘Law and Memory in Early Ireland’                      

2001-02                Dr Pierre-Yves Lambert: ‘Some New Developments in the Comparison between Gaulish and Brittonic’               

2000-01                Professor W. Gillies: ‘Scottish Gaelic Literature. I. Approaches to Gaelic Poetry. II. The Form and Content of Gaelic Verse’              

1999-2000            Dr Nancy Edwards: ‘Early Medieval Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales: Context and Connections’

1998-99                Dr Prys Morgan: ‘Among our Ancient Mountains … the appreciation of Welsh mountainscape in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’    

1997-98                Dr Nicholas Williams: ‘I. The Origins of Manx. II. A Few Words about Cornish’       

1996-97                Professor Donnchadh Ó Corráin: ‘Vikings in Ireland and Britain, Reconsiderations’

1995-96                Professeur Donatien Laurent: ‘Ronan’s Eyes: Duality Tamed in Breton Folk Culture’

1994-95                Professor Kim McCone: ‘The Cyclops in Celtic, Germanic and Indo-European Myth’

1993-94                Dr J. Macinnes: ‘Scottish Gaelic Historical Tradition and Clan Sagas. I. Bards, prophets and warriors. II. Heroic legends'

1992-93                Dr Maryon McDonald: ‘The Invention of the Celts’            

1991-92                Professor R. Geraint Gruffydd: ‘In search of Elmet’           

1990-91                Dr J.S. Kelly: ‘Aesthetics and Politics in the Irish Cultural Revival, 1880-1910’

1989-90                Dr J. Wormald: ‘The Scottish Conception of Kingship and the Rebirth of Britain’   

1988-89                Dr B. Raftery: ‘Irish La Tène Art’