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School of English and Drama

Dr Caoimhe Whelan, BA and MA (University College Cork), PhD (Trinity College Dublin)


Lecturer in Medieval Literature



I joined Queen Mary in 2022 after spending a little over a decade at Trinity College Dublin. My doctoral thesis at the Department of History, Trinity College Dublin, funded by the Irish Research Council, explored the historiography of medieval English Ireland, examining the influence of the seminal twelfth-century colonial history of the Expugnatio Hibernica of Gerald of Wales and its subsequent translation into Middle English. My BA (English and History) and MA in medieval and Renaissance literature were at University College Cork.

I have held a number of research fellowships including a two-year Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Medieval History Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin researching and teaching on the corpus of early English writing in medieval Ireland. I am currently finalising a monograph emanating from this research.

Since 2019 I have been based at the Trinity Long Room Hub, Arts and Humanities Research Institute of Trinity College Dublin. I was the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Research Fellow on the ‘From That Small Island’ public history documentary project (Trinity College Dublin and University of Notre Dame, supported by the Irish government). I also led the Trinity Long Room Hub’s Arts Humanities Policy Initiative which helped develop a better understanding of Arts Humanities contributions to civic society and policymakers.


Research Interests:

  • Medieval literature of Britain and Ireland
  • Medieval Historiography
  • Manuscript and Book History
  • Identity, language, colonial literature

My main research interests lie in the historiography of Britain and Ireland 12th–16th century and late medieval vernacular literary culture and society. I am currently finalising a monograph on Middle English literature in medieval Ireland. My research explores the use of language, the crafting of identities and shared cultural and political connections, and how individuals and communities adapt histories and received narratives. I am interested in the production, reception and translation of middle English literature and am currently exploring the development of the Tristan narrative.  


Articles and Book Chapters:

‘Dragons, Giants and beautiful women: medieval Dublin in the European imagination’, Medieval Dublin XVIII (2021): 264-82.

‘The Transmission of the Expugnatio Hibernica in Medieval Ireland’ in Georgia Henley and A. Joseph McMullen (eds), Gerald of Wales: new perspectives on a medieval writer and critic (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 2018), pp 243-58.

‘New readers, old history: Gerald of Wales and the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland’ in Laura Cleaver and Andrea Worm (eds), Historiography in the Anglo-Norman world c.1066–c.1250: Manuscripts, Makers and Readers (Boydell and Brewer, 2018), pp 213-31.

‘Translating the Expugnatio Hibernica: a vernacular English history in late medieval Ireland’ in Carrie Griffin and Emer Purcell (eds), Text and Transmission in the European Middle Ages, 1000–1500, CURSOR 34 (Brepols, 2018), pp 139-57.

with Bleier et al, ‘Digitizing Clontarf: A Medieval Battle Goes Online’, Medieval Dublin XVI: The Battle of Clontarf Edition (2016): 307-24.

‘The Notary’s Tale’ in Tales of Medieval Dublin, ed. Sparky Booker and Cherie Peters (Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2014), pp 119-34.

‘James Yonge and the Writing of History in Late Medieval Dublin’, Medieval Dublin XIV (2013): 183-95.


Edited Books:

Occupying Space in Medieval and Early Modern Britain and Ireland, ed. Greg Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan (Peter Lang, 2016).



Elspeth Payne, Caoimhe Whelan, Eve Patten, Improving Arts and Humanities Engagement in Ireland’s Civic and Community Sphere. Experiences, challenges, and opportunities for researchers based in HEIs, Trinity College Dublin (2022), pp 1-29. Open Access

Eve Patten, Caoimhe Whelan, Caitriona Curtis, ‘Policy and the Arts & Humanities in Ireland’ (2021), 1-11. Open Access:

Encyclopedia entries:

‘Song of Dermot and the Earl (Geste des Engleis en Yrlande)’ in ed. Siân Echard, Robert Rouse, The Encyclopaedia of British Medieval Literature (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), pp 1740-2.

‘The Kings Cycle’ in The Encyclopaedia of British Medieval Literature in ed. Siân Echard, Robert Rouse (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), pp 1120-2.


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

Public Engagement

I am interested in cultural heritage and have been Honorary Secretary of the heritage advocacy and research group the Friends of Medieval Dublin since 2016, and Joint Secretary of the Irish Historical Society since 2021. I recently organised, with the Friends of Medieval Dublin and the Dublin City Libraries and Archive, ‘Tales of Two Cities: Dublin and Bristol’ (25 February, 2022), a hybrid public seminar marking the 850th anniversary of King Henry II’s grant of Dublin to the people of Bristol, 1171–72. Recording available to watch here: 

I am also involved in the ‘From That Small Island’ public history documentary project led by Trinity College Dublin with the University of Notre Dame, and supported by the Irish government, exploring Ireland’s evolving identity, culture and diaspora across the world. From 2019-2021 I was the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Research Fellow on this project.

I have also recently co-authored a number of open-access resources on the potential for the Arts Humanities to contribute to civic society.


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