Biography

I joined the faculty of Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard in 2015, after completing my PhD at Harvard. I originally hail from Canada, where I was first introduced to Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages, literature, and folklore.

I am currently putting the finishing touches on a book, under contract with Princeton University Press, about the historical development of the Gaelic Fionn Cycle -- that is, the immensely popular narrative corpus concerning the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) and his roving warrior band, the Fianna. This narrative corpus encompasses a vast body of story and song, some of it well over a millennium old, extant in written literature and collected folklore.

I also direct the Fionn Cycle Folklore Project (2019-present), which is creating an online database of folklore about Fionn and the Fianna, the best-loved heroes of the Gaelic world. Over 3,400 orally collected stories, lays, and other lore are documented in the database, which will launch in fall 2020. The project has received grant support from Harvard University and the Government of Ireland.

I write and speak about various aspects of Fionn Cycle narrative, as well as other topics pertaining to early modern literature and modern folklore in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and English. Exciting recent projects include:

  • A co-edited volume, North American Gaels: Speech, Story, and Song in the Diaspora, published by McGill-Queens University Press in November 2020. The volume is a groundbreaking exploration of the literature and folklore of North America's Irish and Scottish Gaelic-speaking diaspora since the eighteenth century. See here for more about this project and related past and forthcoming conferences and events. 
  • New Irish and English subtitles for the first Irish-language sound film, Oidhche Sheanchais (A Night of Storytelling) (1935), which was recently re-discovered at Harvard. The film was directed by the great documentary film pioneer Robert Flaherty and restored by the Harvard Film Archive in 2015. It has since been broadcast on Irish national television. For more about this project see: Harvard Film Archive LaunchIrish Film Institute Launch; co-authored article in Folklore 116 (2015).

I teach courses on Irish and Scottish Gaelic language, early modern literature, and folklore.