2016 Recipient

Catherine Wilsdon is a Research Associate at University College Dublin's (UCD) Humanities Institute and currently lectures in Carlow College and IES Abroad. She was recently awarded a PhD in English Literature from UCD. Her thesis explored the European travels, encounters and experiences of the Irish playwright and travel writer John Millington Synge.

The Liam Swords bursary enabled her to spend time in Paris retracing Synge's steps and building upon her doctoral research. Synge spent several winters studying in the French capital where he encountered various groups, individuals, and ideas that would help to shape his literary aesthetic. His connections to a small group of Irish nationalists based in Paris were of particular interest to Dr. Wilsdon and were the primary emphasis of her lecture. To this end, the Irish College (Centre Culturel Irlandais) provided her with access to materials related to the Irish community in Paris that are unavailable in Ireland.

Wilsdon prepared a monograph that argued the importance of Synge's European travels to the development of his literary aesthetic. The work mapped an unfamiliar context of a canonical Irish literary figure thereby illuminating Franco-Irish cultural connections and drawing attention to the multiple geographies of modernist literature.

In the words of the Rev. Liam Swords

'the aim is to establish a grant for a student of talent from the Irish Higher education sector to pursue his/her studies/research/training for an academic year in Paris and to immerse themselves in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Candidates will be chosen from the widest possible groups, e.g., musicians, artists, sculptors, writers, scientists, engineers, scholars, craft-workers, theologians, architects, students of haute cuisine or haute couture, cinematographers etc.'
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