Im my department, we’re not encouraged/allowed to include acknowledgements in our dissertations. In some ways, this is a relief — I’d inevitably forget someone important, and I’d also run into issues trying to credit people I only know by their usernames online. However, it also seems a shame, because there are a number of people without whom this dissertation couldn’t have been written; if it had, it would have been much the poorer for it.
But now that it’s handed in (!!!) and I’m trying desperately not to think about it or give in to my paranoia that I should have used those last two days before the deadline to do more proofreading instead of giving it in early (I’m mostly failing), I thought I’d thank a few of those people here.
First of all, I owe a lot to my supervisor, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, not only for her help with the dissertation itself but also for her teaching at various points during my undergraduate career.
I’d also like to thank Mark Williams, who taught me Old Irish last year and supervised my precious dissertation. Not only did he make studying Irish so much better, he also encouraged my choice of topic this year, and pointed me in the direction of several useful resources.
One of these was Amy Mulligan’s unpublished DPhil thesis, and I’d like to thank her for not only sending me the relevant chapter, but also two unpublished articles. There’s something about being able to cite an article as ‘forthcoming 2018’ that makes me feel like a Real Academic; it was a very exciting experience, so thanks! (Plus, they were super helpful.)
Shoutout to the staff at the National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin who, in a long and profoundly nerdy conversation in July last year, inadvertently gave me the idea for this dissertation in the first place.
To everyone in the ASNaC department at Cambridge for their help and encouragement.
To those who retrieved books for me from college and faculty libraries when vacation opening hours defeated me.
To my flatmates, two of whom are engineers and probably weren’t expecting ever to know this much about medieval Irish in their lives. The third, Tasha (a Classicist) took most of the photos in this post — thanks for humouring my desire for a photoshoot!
To Eleanor Smith and Charley Robson in particular for having to put up with a lot of rambling, particularly in the early stages of the dissertation, and for help with proofreading.
To Louis, SJ, and anyone else who has had to put up with my infodumping during the writing process.
To my mum, who read several drafts and did a bunch of proofreading despite not knowing anything about medieval Irish literature. I’m sorry I chose to write about something so obscure — you did a great job making sense of it.
To everyone at Mulvihill Academy of Irish Dance, for a very welcome distraction; likewise all my students in the Cambridge University Irish Dance Society. Irish dance has kept me sane this year, and I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate the completion of my dissertation by going to a feis this weekend.
My greatest debts, though, are probably to randomers on the internet who have, at various points, egged me on, helped me find articles, and put up with my endless rambling.
Two Discord servers have borne the brunt of my obsession.
First, Gasbags & Gondolas, the Mortal Engines fan server, which I joined while writing the first draft. They have put up with a lot of incomprehensible raving about medieval Irish literature over the last few months, and I’d like to thank them for not kicking me out — even if I did get relegated to the NSFW channel for talking about the gae bolga.
Second, The Muddle Ages, a medieval-themed server that I created. You guys have been helpful and distracting in equal measure, but it’s been a delight to have people to talk to about this who actually get it. Your help with translations, references, and tracking down elusive books and articles has also been much appreciated. But mostly, thanks for the memes.
I recruited most people to The Muddle Ages from Tumblr, so it’s much the same crowd, but there are a few extra people. I know I’ll have forgotten people, so if you’ve ever interacted with me about medieval Irish literature on Tumblr, know that I like you a lot!
mediaeval-muse directed me toward the Sheehan article around which a large section of my dissertation revolved, so I’m eternally grateful for that.
an-moncai-mishuaimhneach contributed encouragement and also, more importantly, memes, which are obviously an essential part of any serious work of academia.
idiomsir occasionally popped into my inbox to have feelings about medieval Irish characters, which is really why we all do this
Shoutout to Offa’s Dykes, an LGBT ASNaC group chat, partly for having the best group chat name and partly for crying about Cú Chulainn and Fer Diad with me.
On Twitter, there are various medievalists who have enriched my life, but I particularly enjoy Tom O’Donnell’s extremely niche Celticist humour.
Everyone who has replied to my tweets and commented on my blog, Instagram and Facebook posts with encouragement: thank you. Even if I don’t always reply, I do appreciate it a lot.
I’m sure I’ll have forgotten someone crucial, and I’m going to feel terrible about it when I realise. But for now, I hope this will go some way towards expressing how many people were a part of this dissertation, and how much I owe them.
For now, I need to try and put it out of my mind, because there’s nothing more I can do about it — it’s out of my power, and it’s time to start thinking about revising for my exams. But I’m 20% done with my degree. Just four more exams and then that’s it. I’m free.
Godspeed, little dissertation baby.
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