Linguistic conflict in Northern Irish society from 1922 to 2022

Interdisciplinary PhD Scholarships on the Theme of Conflict

Have you completed or are you approaching completion of a Master’s degree in Irish language, literature, history, politics, or culture? Are you interested in carrying out interdisciplinary research on the extent and impact of linguistic conflict in Northern Irish society during the next four years, commencing in September 2022? 

Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge and the School of Applied Language & Intercultural Studies are offering a fully funded, four year fees + stipend scholarship in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at Dublin City University. The project will be jointly supervised by Professor Ciarán MacMurchaidh and Dr Mary Phelan. This is one of four interdisciplinary PhD Scholarships being offered in the Faculty from 2022. Note that candidates may apply for one scholarship only. 


Linguistic conflict in Northern Irish society from 1922 to 2022


Recent discussion about the introduction of an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland under the terms of the St Andrews Agreement (2006) has been robust. Assigning the language official recognition in a society that historically has been very polarised has generated significant controversy among political parties and the wider public (Manley, 2020). Discourse around the proposed Act is emblematic of the fractured and conflictual nature of public life and politics in NI.

While Tony Crowley (2000 & 2005) has done extensive work on the cultural conflict associated with the Irish language on the island of Ireland historically, and others have examined Protestant engagement with the Irish language in Ulster (Blayney, 1996; Ó Snodaigh, 1995), most other studies focus on language decline across the island (Hindley, 1990; Ó Tuathaigh, 2015), the English/Irish interface (Kelly & Mac Murchaidh, 2012), the language in respect of state, religion and community (Wolf, 2014), the use of Irish by Protestant proselytisers (de Brún, 2009), the language in the courts (Phelan, 2019), and the role of the education system in promoting the language (Kelly, 2002; Jones, 2006). 

Therefore, a study that will draw on and update Crowley’s pioneering work, make use of newly-available historical and archival sources, and focus on a thorough assessment of the nature of the cultural conflict currently being aroused by the proposed Irish-language legislation in NI, while drawing on debates and official policies of the past, will address a gap in the contemporary literature. It may help to inform future strategy around language planning by adopting a more inclusive and democratic approach and will have the potential to make an innovative contribution to the broader debate about the future of language on our shared, multicultural island.

Candidate profile
The ideal candidate must have completed or expect to complete very soon a Master’s degree or equivalent qualification in Irish language, literature, history, politics, culture or a closely related area. The candidate is expected to have first class or upper second-class honours bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree. In addition, the applicant should:

  • Have a strong interest in Irish language, literature, history, politics, or culture;
  • Have a strong background in any one or any combination of the following areas: Irish language, literature, history, politics or culture;
  • Have excellent skills in reading in English and Irish and in analysing various types of data and source materials;
  • Have excellent skills in academic writing;
  • Have excellent knowledge of written and spoken English (See DCU’s requirements for English language skills; applicants must ensure that they meet these requirements before submitting an application;
  • Meet DCU’s entry requirements in general (see general entry requirements here).



The strict deadline for application is: 19 April at 5 pm (Irish Standard Time). Applications received after this deadline will not be considered. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for online interview around the middle of May. 

What to submit:

Candidates should email their applications in a single pdf file to and with “Interdisciplinary PhD in Conflict” in the subject line. This application must include:

  1. A brief cover letter outlining your motivation for applying
  2. A complete version of this form

Note: Incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible.


Applications will be reviewed by the supervisory panel and short-listed. Short-listed candidates will be called for interview (online). If successful at the interview stage, candidates will then be invited to make a formal application to DCU via the Student Application Portal. Applicants are expected to read the information available here on the general process for PhD applications to DCU. Please note that the offer of a scholarship is not a formal offer of a place for PhD studies at DCU. The latter is made only after successful application via the Student Application Portal and verification of eligibility. 

For queries contact: or