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 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.


1988-89 Dr B. Raftery: ‘Irish La Tène Art’ 2005-06 Professor Dafydd Johnston: ‘Translations of Medieval Welsh Poetry: Dafydd ap Gwilym’s ‘Trafferth mewn Tafarn’’
1989-90 Dr J. Wormald: ‘The Scottish Conception of Kingship and the Rebirth of Britain’ 2006-07 Professor Peter Schrijver: ‘How Roman Britain made Ireland Celtic’
1990-91 Dr J.S. Kelly: ‘Aesthetics and Politics in the Irish Cultural Revival, 1880-1910’ 2007-08 Dr Katherine Forsyth: ‘Rocking the cradle of Scottish Christianity: new work on Whithorn and its carved stones’
1991-92 Professor R. Geraint Gruffydd: ‘In search of Elmet’ 2008-09 Professor Máire Herbert: ‘British Saints in Ireland, Irish Saints in Britain: The View from Hagiography’
1992-93 Dr Maryon McDonald: ‘The Invention of the Celts’ 2009-10 Dr Oliver Padel: ‘Governance and Language in Medieval Cornwall’
1993-94 Dr J. Macinnes: ‘Scottish Gaelic Historical Tradition and Clan Sagas. I. Bards, prophets and warriors. II. Heroic legends' 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’
1994-95 Professor Kim McCone: ‘The Cyclops in Celtic, Germanic and Indo-European Myth’ 2011-12 Professor Ian Wood: ‘The Irish in England and on the Continent in the Seventh Century’
1995-96 Professeur Donatien Laurent: ‘Ronan’s Eyes: Duality Tamed in Breton Folk Culture’ 2012-13 Dr Alex Woolf, Professor Dauvit Broun and Professor Thomas Owen Clancy: ‘Early Medieval Scotland’
1996-97 Professor Donnchadh Ó Corráin: ‘Vikings in Ireland and Britain, Reconsiderations’ 2013-14 Professor Huw Pryce: ‘Medieval Welsh History in the Victorian Age’
1997-98 Dr Nicholas Williams: ‘I. The Origins of Manx. II. A Few Words about Cornish’ 2014-15 Professor Paul Russell: ‘Between Ogam and Runes: the so-called Alphabet of Nemnivus’
1998-99 Dr Prys Morgan: ‘Among our Ancient Mountains … the appreciation of Welsh mountainscape in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’ 2015-16 Professor Erich Poppe: ‘Chrétien’s British Yvain in England and Wales’
1999-2000 Dr Nancy Edwards: ‘Early Medieval Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales: Context and Connections’ 2016-17 Dr Mary-Ann Constantine: 'Curious Traveller: Britain, Britons, and Britishness in Thomas Pennant's 'Tours''
2000-01 Professor W. Gillies: ‘Scottish Gaelic Literature. I. Approaches to Gaelic Poetry. II. The Form and Content of Gaelic Verse’ 2017-18 Professor Helen Fulton 'Cheapside in Wales: Textiles and Commodities in Medieval Welsh Poetry'
2001-02 Dr Pierre-Yves Lambert: ‘Some New Developments in the Comparison between Gaulish and Brittonic’    
2002-03 Professor Robin Chapman-Stacey: ‘Law and Memory in Early Ireland’    
2003-04 Professor Richard Sharpe: ‘Books from Ireland, Fifth to Ninth Century’    
2004-05 Professor Declan Kiberd: ‘Ulysses and Us’    
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