Dr. Niamh NicGhabhann



  • PhD, History of Art, TRIARC: the Irish Art Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin
  • Graduate Diploma in Innovation, UCD/TCD Innovation Academy (ongoing)
  • BA, History of Art and Architecture, English Literature, Trinity College Dublin


I am the course director for the MA Festive Arts Programme at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. To find out more about this MA programme, please visit http://www.irishworldacademy.ie/postraduate-programmes/ma-festive-arts/ or sign up to our monthly newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/FestiveArts

My research focuses on Irish studies, with an emphasis on the art and architecture of Ireland, concepts of space, memory, performance and the body. I am particularly interested in exploring these concepts through visual images, built landscapes, poetry and prose fiction. My current research also includes work on arts management, cultural entrepreneurship and innovation, and ideas of measurement and value in the arts and cultural sector.

Research MA and PhD supervision: I currently supervise MA and PhD theses at UL on the subjects of audience engagement, measurement and value in the visual art gallery, and on a range of issues relating to festival, festive practices, public space and identity. I welcome new research proposals on these and related topics.

Information on current research projects: 

Teaching 2014/15

  • Festival Management (coordinator – delivered by guest lecturers)
  • Business Skills and Professional Development for Performing Arts
  • Introduction to Research and Discovery for Festival Studies
  • Introduction to Local and Global Festivity
  • Introduction to Curating
  • Critical Contexts for Arts Management and Cultural Policy
  • Introduction to Culture and Performance (coordinator – delivered by guest lecturers)
  • I also lecture on the BA programmes at the Irish World Academy, and am an occasional lecturer within SAUL, the School of Architecture at UL. I am also developing a broadening module within UL on the subject of Placemaking.


i. Books (author)

Building on the Past: medieval ecclesiastical buildings in Ireland, 1789-1915 (forthcoming, Four Courts Press, 2015)

ii. Books (co-editor)

St. Davnet’s: the story of a Monaghan institution, co-edited with Anne Mac Lellan and Fiona Byrne (forthcoming, Stair: An Irish Public History Company Ltd., 2015).

ii. Chapters in books

NOUGHT YTAUGHT TO SPEKE BY CRAFTE NOUPER BY KYNDE, an essay on artist Orla Barry for mother’s tankstation gallery, Dublin, forthcoming in mother’s annual (Dublin: mother’s tankstation, 2015).

‘Irish Antiquarian Artists’, in Art and Architecture of Ireland (London and New Haven: Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014)

‘Gabriel Beranger’, in Art and Architecture of Ireland (London and New Haven: Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014)

‘William Wakeman’, ”Mary Ward’, ‘Margaret Stokes’, ‘Phoebe Anna Traquair’ – biographical entries for Volume II, Art and Architecture of Ireland (London and New Haven: Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014)

‘WATERMARK: between the archive and the river’, WATERMARK, ed. Niamh NicGhabhann (Limerick: The University of Limerick, 2014).

‘Founts of meaning: five contemporary artists and the books of the Irish Franciscans in Europe’, in Shaping Identities Together, ed. Niamh NicGhabhann (Dublin: The Graphic Studio, 2013).

‘Irish architects and the restoration of medieval buildings, 1835–1904’ in Irish Gothic Architecture: construction, decay and reinvention, ed. Roger Stalley (Bray: Wordwell, 2012).

‘Reconstructing the Gothic Past: Ruins and the Improving Landlord in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland’ in Gothic Legacies: Four Centuries of Tradition and Innovation in Art and Architecture, eds. Laura Cleaver and Ayla Lepine (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)

‘Owen Walsh 1933-2002: Colour and Light’, in Colour and Light, ed. Niamh NicGhabhann (Dublin: The Owen Walsh Foundation, 2012)

‘Ancient and Modern’ in Nano Reid and Gerard Dillon, ed. Riann Coulter (Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda and the FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, 2009).

‘A Delicate Line’, in Gavin Murphy, ed., House Projects_artworks. documents.analysis. (House Projects, Dublin, 2008)

iii. Journal Articles

‘Developing digital resources for the exploration of medieval Ireland: the Monastic Ireland project’, Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies – forthcoming special issue on Irish studies and the digital humanities (forthcoming, 2015. Peer-reviewed).

‘Festival studies and museum studies – building a curriculum’, Museum Ireland, the journal of the Irish Museums Association (forthcoming, 2015).

‘Introduction’ to edited section on the historiography of Irish Art in The Journal of Art Historiography, No. 9, December 2013 (e-journal, peer reviewed).

‘Writing Irish Art Histories’, Journal of Art Historiography, No. 5, December 2011, (e-journal, peer reviewed).

‘Reconstructions of the Gothic Past: Cultures of Conservation’, Artefact, the Journal of the Irish Association of Art Historians, Issue 3, 2009 (peer reviewed).

iv. Book reviews

Review article, ‘The ‘perpetual fair’: gender, disorder and urban amusement in eighteenth-century London’, Planning Perspectives, Jan. 2015, Vol. 30, No. 1.

Review of Gavin Murphy’s On Seeing Only Totally New Things in Architecture Ireland, Issue 6, 2013.

Review essay of Finola O’Kane’s Ireland and the Picturesque in the Dublin Review of Books, 2014 (e-journal).

I have contributed reviews on contemporary art, architecture and publications to both Museum Ireland, the annual publication of the Irish Museums Association, and to recirca.com, Circa magazine’s online journal.

Awards and Honours

Marc Fitch Foundation Publication Grant, 2014,

Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Doctoral Research Award, 2008-2012,

Trinity College Dublin Travel Fund Award, 2010,

Desmond Guinness Scholarship Award, The Irish Georgian Society, 2009,

Homan Potterton Award, Trinity College Dublin, 2006,

Trinity College Dublin Foundation Scholarship Award, 2004,

Anne Crookshank Award, Trinity College Dublin, 2003.

Grants and Research Funding

ERASMUS+ Research Award (multi-partner) into youth and social circus in Europe, 2014.

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht project grant to develop the WATERMARK exhibition and publication, 2014 (€10,000).

‘World Within Walls’ Project funding for research into the history of St. Davnet’s Hospital, Monaghan, HSE, 2014-14 (€57,000)

NOVA UCD funding for research into innovation and the humanities, 2013 (€5000)

Curated exhibitions

‘World Within Walls’: this exhibition will be held at Monaghan County Museum from May 2015, and will explore the history of St. Davnet’s Hospital in Monaghan town, formerly the Cavan and Monaghan District Lunatic Asylum and Monaghan Mental Hospital.

WATERMARK, featuring artists Helena Enright, Fiona Hallinan, Aaron Lawless and David Lilburn, with accompanying publication with contributions from Dr. Sandra Joyce, Dr. Helen Phelan, Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Maurice Gunning. This exhibition was commissioned to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick (September-December 2014).

‘Shaping Identities Together: Ag Cruthú le Chéile’, featuring artists Colin Martin, Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Hughie O’Donoghue, Geraldine O’Reilly and Robert Russell. This show was exhibited at the Institute for Ireland in Leuven and in the National Print Museum, Dublin, and was accompanied by a publication with contributions from John McCafferty, Seamus Heaney, Dermot McGuinne, Joe MacMahon OFM and Niamh NicGhabhann. This exhibition was part of the cultural calendar celebrating Ireland’s holding of the EU Presidency in 2013.

‘Owen Walsh 1933 – 2002: Colour and Light’: a retrospective exhibition celebrating the life and work of Mayo-born painter Owen Walsh, with an accompanying publication featuring contributions from  Kathryn Milligan, Eileen O’Mara Walsh, Brian Fallon, Camille Souter, Paul Durcan and Niamh NicGhabhann.

Further curatorial work includes the TCD section of the programme for Open House Dublin architectural festival in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Invited Talks and Public Lectures

‘Curating WATERMARK’ (short talk), And Sophia Danced: a celebration of arts practice research, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, 19-20 November 2014.

‘The architectural heritage of St. Davnet’s Hospital guided tour and talk’ (presented as part of Heritage Week 2014), August 23, 2014.

‘In the streets: performing identity through parades, rituals and festivals in Ireland, 1750-2014’, Lime Tree Lecture series, Mary Immaculate College of Education, April 14, 2014.

‘Break down the four-square walls of standing time’, Macalla: to set the darkness echoing Tower Seminar, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, February 5, 2014.

‘Among the ruins – dancing, praying and sketching in Ireland, 1750-1950’ and ‘Medieval buildings in Ireland and the Irish Ecclesiastical Commission’, 53rd Roscrea Conference (Gothic Ireland: from the middle ages to the nineteenth century), November 1-3, 2013.

‘Introducing the MA Festive Arts Programme’, Festive Arts Tower Seminar, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, 30 October, 2013.

‘Medieval Ireland and the Digital Humanities: challenges and opportunities’, Power, prayer and public archaeology: a conference in celebration of 750 years since the foundation of the Black Friary, Trim, 2-3 July, 2013.

‘Medieval Ireland – audiences and public engagement’, Fáilte Ireland Research Forum, Arás Fáilte, Dublin 1, April 24 2013.

‘Monastic Ireland: communicating medieval Ireland’, Donatus Mooney Study Day, The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilisation, University College Dublin, 18 April, 2012.

‘Ruins in the landscape: the aesthetics of antiquarianism in the nineteenth century, William Wilde seminar, Royal Irish Academy, 3-4 June, 2010.

‘The architectural of the Franciscan order in the nineteenth century – ruins and restorations’, Donatus Mooney Study Day, The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilisation, University College Dublin, 30 April 2010.

‘Ancient and Modern – exploring the imagery of Irish antiquities in the work of Nano Reid and Gerard Dillon’, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, February 2010 and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, March, 2010.

Conference Participation

‘A bright and dark land: space, freedom and the body in Edna O’Brien’s ‘Irish Revel’ (1968)’, 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English, Vienna, July 15-19 2014.

‘The ruined friaries in the Irish landscape, 1789 – 1915’, Leeds International Medieval Conference, Leeds, July 7 – 9 2014.

‘Innovation and the Humanities – Common Ground, Shared Futures’ (with Dr. Maeve Houlihan, UCD), Beyond the Campus: Higher Education and the Creative Economy, King’s College London, June 23-24, 2014.

‘Process and civic space: the performance of authority and national identity in nineteenth-century Limerick’, Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism Conference, London School of Economics, April 1-3, 2014.

‘Performing place and memory: the relationship between festivals and museums’, Irish Museums Association Annual Conference – Museums and Memory: Challenging Histories, Waterford, February 21, 2014.

‘Heritage and History – forging a partnership between the School of History and Archives, UCD and Fáilte Ireland – Monastic Ireland’, Innovation and the Humanities symposium, Nova UCD, University College Dublin, December 14 2012.

‘Public History and Innovation’, Creative Entrepreneurialism and the Humanities (part of the Innovation Dublin 2012 programme), Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin, October 20, 2012.

‘Seeing the Medieval Past – Homi K. Bhabha and the historiography of medieval Ireland in the nineteenth century’: Art Without Borders, Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin, October 5, 2012.

‘Seeing Through, Speaking Through: The Visual World and the Poetry of Pearse Hutchinson’, Contemporary Poetry and Source, Plymouth University, May 18-20, 2012.

‘Irish Architects and the Restoration of Medieval Buildings, 1800 – 1930’, Reconstructions of the Gothic Past Colloquium, Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin, June 9-10, 2011.

‘Picturing Antiquity: Images and Antiquities from William Wilde’s The Beauty of the Boyne and its Tributary, the Blackwater (1850) to Thomas Johnson Westropp’s “A Survey of the Ancient Churches in the County of Limerick”, (1905), Ireland and Modernity: An Interdisciplinary Conference, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, November 11-13, 2010.

‘Buildings, memory and identity in nineteenth century Munster’, People, Places and Memory, Moore Institute, NUI Galway, August 27, 2010.

‘Chapel Villages and Estate Towns: medieval buildings in settlement development in late eighteenth and nineteenth century Ireland’, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 12-15, 2010.

‘A complex metaphor – developing a national canon of architectural form in 19th century Ireland’, Association of Art Historians Annual 2010 Conference, Glasgow, April 15-17, 2010.

Nineteenth Century Ireland: Conservation and its Context’, Irish History Students Association Annual Conference, Trinity College Dublin, February 2010.

Research Methodology Seminar, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin, February, 2010.

‘Gothic in Ireland: Ruins and the improving landlord in 19th century Ireland’, Gothic and its Legacies symposium, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, December 2009.

‘Ruins and the improving landlord in the early 19th century’, Reconstructions of the Gothic Past Symposium, TRIARC, Trinity College Dublin, June 2009.

‘Reconstructions of the Gothic Past: Cultures of Conservation’, Irish Association of Art Historians Study Morning, Newman House, April 2009.

Conference Organisation

Seminar coordinator: ‘Making it happen: a vibrant and sustainable arts environment for Ireland’, featuring Dr. Michelle O’Dwyer (Associate Dean, Director of the Corporate MBA Programme and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Kemmy Business School, UL), Rowena Neville (Business to Arts) and Dr. Annmarie Ryan (Lecturer, Kemmy Business School, UL) Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, UL, April 9, 2014.

Seminar coordinator: ‘The Frost is All Over: Writing about traditional Irish music’, featuring Vincent Woods (RTÉ and Aosdána), Dr. Philip Coleman (TCD) and Toner Quinn (The Journal of Music) Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, UL, September 17, 2014.

Seminar organiser, ‘Open Education: Exploring Architecture in Primary Schools’, for Open House Limerick, UL, August 15, 2014.

Seminar coordinator: ‘Different views on the Second Coming by Yeats: Artists-in-residence and arts practice research at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance’, featuring a performance of work in progress by Fidget Feet and a panel discussion with Dr. Helen Phelan (UL) Professor Meg Harper (UL), Dr. Michael Finneran (Mary Immaculate), Fidget Feet aerial dance and Mikel Murfi, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance January 20, 2014

Symposium Organiser: Innovation and the Humanities, Nova UCD, University College Dublin, 14 December 2012.

Session co-convenor: ‘Writing Irish Art Histories’, Association of Art Historians 2011, University of Warwick, 31 March – 22 April.

Conference co-convenor: ‘Writing Irish Art History’, a student-led seminar at TRIARC, Irish Art Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin, Department of History of Art, TCD, November 20, 2010.

Administrative Experience

Course Director, MA Festive Arts programme, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, UL, 2013-present, 2013-present.

Project assistant, Monastic Ireland project, Monastic Ireland Digital Humanities project, The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute for the Study of Irish History and Civilisation, University College Dublin and The Discovery Programme, 2012-2013.

Gallery assistant, mother’s tankstation gallery, Watling Street, Dublin, 2007-2013.

Director, Stair: An Irish Public History Company Ltd. (a NovaUCD campus company specialising in the provision of project management and research skills for historical projects), 2012-2014.

Service to Profession

Member of the editorial board of Artefact, the journal of the Irish Association of Art Historians, 2012-present.

Member of the Open House Limerick Committee (2013-September 2014), coordinated education programme for 2014.

Board member and journal editor, Irish Museums Association, 2012.

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