Gearóid Mac Eoin

Gearóid Mac Eoin (25 January 1929) is an Irish academic whose studies have focused especially on aspects of Irish language, literature and history.[1]

Gearóid Mac Eoin
Born (1929-01-25) 25 January 1929 (age 92)
OccupationLecturer, Professor of Old and Middle Irish and Celtic Philology
Years active1957-1959, 1959–1994 (retirement)
Spouse(s)Guðrún Helga Hallgrímsdóttir
(1959–2007, her death)

Background and educationEdit

Mac Eoin was educated in Limerick and New Ross, where he attended St Augustine's and Good Counsel College, New Ross. In 1947 he went to National University of Ireland, Galway, on scholarship, took courses in Celtic Studies, archaeology, history and the classical languages, and graduated with an M.A. in 1953.[1] He was then admitted to the University of Bonn, Germany, for a PhD position and obtained his degree in 1955 for a dissertation on "Das Verbalsystem von Togail Troí (H. 2. 17)".[1] Back in Ireland, he found employment as a radio host on RTÉ Radio.[1]

Dublin, Reykjavik and UppsalaEdit

In 1956, Mac Eoin spent a few months working at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), but left for Iceland when he accepted a scholarship to study Icelandic language and literature at the University of Iceland. Meanwhile, his position at the Institute was reserved for him, but when in 1957 he returned to Dublin, he obtained a post at the Uppsala University to teach Celtic Languages and Folklore (1957–1959).[1]

While in Reykjavik, he met his future wife Guðrún Helga ('Gimma') Hallgrímsdóttir. They married in Uppsala in 1959 and had four children.[1]

Dublin and GalwayEdit

Mac Eoin returned to Ireland in 1959 to serve as Professor of Irish at St Patrick's College, Dublin.[1] In 1961, he co-founded Studia Hibernica, an academic journal for Irish studies published by the College, and for a time served at the editorial board (1961–1965).[1] In the 60s, he also became President of Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge,[1] which had just been founded to promote the use of the Irish language at schools, both as a teaching medium and a subject in itself.[2]

In 1963, Mac Eoin began working again for the Dublin Institute, this time as Assistant Professor. Three year later, he became Professor of Old and Middle Irish and Celtic Philology at National University of Ireland, Galway, which would become the longest-held position of his career (1966–1994).[1]

Mac Eoin also turned to politics to promote the Irish language. He joined the movement Gluaiseacht Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta in 1969 and by helping to set up local committees in the Gaeltacht area, contributed to the institution of the Údarás na Gaeltachta in 1979.[1]

The Royal Irish Academy made him a member in 1975.[1] As professor in Dublin and Galway, Mac Eoin and his fellow staff members have been responsible for organising a number of national and international conferences, notably the Sixth International Congress of Celtic Studies (1979).[1] He has been visiting professor at a number of German universities, namely those of Bonn (1979–80), Freiburg (1985) and the Humboldt University of Berlin (1993).[1] Since the late 80s, he has also been busy organising a programme to foster co-operation between academic institutions in Europe. The number of universities enrolled in this programme, which falls under the Erasmus Programme of the European Union, has swollen to 22 today.[1]

He retired in 1994, after nearly 30 years of service as Professor in Galway. Gimma, his wife, died in 2007, survived by their children and nine grandchildren.[1] He lives in Barna.


Mac Eoin's published work includes numerous articles in journals and books (see below). He wrote reviews for journals such as Studia Hibernica, Celtica, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, Arv: Journal of Scandinavian Folklore, Studia Neophilologica, Béaloideas, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and the Journal of the Thomond Archaeological Society. Mac Eoin has also been involved in editorial work for a number of journals and books, such as Studia Hibernica (volumes 1–5); Hereditas: Essays and Studies presented to Professor Séamus Ó Duilearga (with Bo Almqvist and Breandán Mac Aodha), Dublin, 1975; Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Celtic Studies, Galway, 1979 (with Anders Ahlqvist and Donncha Ó hAodha), Dublin, 1983; Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Minority Languages, (with Anders Ahlqvist and Donncha Ó hAodha), Clevedon, 1986; Celtic Cultures Newsletter (UNESCO), Nos. 2–6, Galway; and Cattle in Ancient Ireland, Kilkenny, 1989 (with Etienne Rynne).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Biography of Gearóid Mac Eoin".
  2. ^ "Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge". Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge. Retrieved 7 April 2010.


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