Date and Place of Birth: November 20, 1981, Dublin, Ireland
Loyola Institute, School of Religion, Trinity College Dublin, 2021-present
PhD in Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews, 2009 (Carnegie Scholar). Advisor: Robert Bartlett FBA
MSt in Historical Research (Medieval History), Oxford University, 2006. Advisor: Richard Sharpe FBA
MA in Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews, 2004 (First Class Hons.)
Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Scholar, Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, 2021-2022
Research Fellow, Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, 2018-2020
Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Summer 2016
Research Fellow and Principal Investigator, Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 2009-2016
Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Vienna, 2014
Honorary Research Fellow, School of History, University of St Andrews, 2012-2019
Instructor in Medieval History, University of St Andrews, 2007-2009.
Teaching and Research Interests
Fields Medieval Ireland; Late-antique and early-medieval barbarian Europe (esp. Merovingian Gaul, Ireland, Lombard Italy, the late-Roman north); ‘Others’ in Latinate ideation, e.g., ‘Celts,’ ‘Germans,’ ‘Africans,’ etc. in antiquity, late antiquity, and early middle ages; Hiberno-Latin; saints’ cults; the Irish in medieval Europe.
Foci Medieval Ireland; Late-antique and early-medieval historiography, ethnography, and hagiography; identity, ethnicity, and community; romanitas; Christianitas; barbaritas; reception; ‘North Sea’ studies & cultural exchange; hagiography; vernacular lang. and lit.
Methods Cultural history; manuscript studies, e.g., paleography, codicology, and diplomatic; materiality of textuality; narratology.
Langs. Latin (ecclesiastical, medieval), French, Italian, German, Norwegian, Irish, Old Norse.
Boston College, History Department, Spring 2022
- Course co-ordinator and Lead Instructor, Early and Medieval Ireland: Prehistory to 1200
- Guest lecturer, MIT on Carolingian Europe & Fordham University on Celtic Hagiography
Trinity College Dublin, School of Religion, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023
- Lecturer, Christianity of the Celtic World, 400-1000
- Webinar Series co-ordinator, Colmcille in Context (521/2021), Loyola Institute and Trinity College Library, Summer & Fall 2021
University of Vienna, History Department, Spring 2014
- Lecturer in Early Medieval Europe
University of Oslo, History Department, Fall 2014
- Lecturer in Nordic Medieval History
University of St Andrews, Department of Mediaeval History, F2007, S2008, F2008, S2009
- Instructor in Medieval History (ME 1001: The Mediaeval World; ME 1002: East and West in the Age of the Crusades; ME 2001: The British Isles from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Centuries, ME 2002: The British Isles, 1272-1485).
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, London; Society of Authors, London; Colloquium on Violence and Religion; American Society for Irish Medieval Studies; Committee for Dark Age Studies, University of St Andrews; Network for the Study of Late Antique and Early Medieval Monasticism; Scientific Committee Member, The Columban Way Heritage Route
Awards/ Grants/ Scholarships
2022 Knight of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta
2021 Fulbright Fellowship, Fulbright Commission
2020 National Heritage Award, The Heritage Council, Ireland
2020 Loyola Scholarship in Theology, Trinity College Dublin
2013-2016 Austrian Science Fund Grant, Principal Investigator
2009-2010 Ernst Mach Scholarship, OeAD, Austria
2005-2008 Carnegie Scholarship, Carnegie Trust
2005 Donald Bullough Scholarship, University of St Andrews
2002-2003 Norwegian Government Research Scholarship, Centre for Viking and Medieval Studies, University of Oslo
1). Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus: Sanctity and Community in the Seventh Century Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018 (pp. xv, 322).
2). Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe, ed. Alexander O’Hara, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018 (pp. xxiv, 320).
3). Jonas of Bobbio: Life of Columbanus and His Disciples, Life of John, Life of Vedast, ed. & trans. Alexander O’Hara and Ian Wood, Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2017 (pp. xiv, 348).
4). Saint Sunniva: Irish Queen, Norwegian Patron Saint, ed. Alexander O’Hara, Åslaug Ommundsen, and Alf Tore Hommedal, Bergen: Alvheim og Eide Akademisk Forlag, 2021 (pp. 261).
Books in Preparation
Savages and Saints: Ireland, the Irish, and Irishness from Antiquity to the English Conquest of Ireland (with J. -M. Reaux-Colvin) (Princeton University Press, under contract, 2024).
Colomb cille caindlech: Commemoration and Cultural Memory in the Cult of Saint Columba of Iona.
Refereed Journal Articles
5). ‘A Lacuna in Irish Historiography: The Irish peregrini from Eoin MacNeill to The Cambridge History of Ireland’, Irish Historical Studies 47(2023), 1-18.
6). ‘The Babenbergs and the Cult of St. Coloman: Saint Formation and Political Cohesion in Eleventh-Century Austria’, The Journal of Medieval Latin 25 (2015), 131-172 (with an edition and translation of the Passio et Miracula S. Cholomanni).
7). ‘Columbanus ad locum: The Establishment of the Monastic Foundations’, Peritia 26 (2015), 143-170.
8). ‘Aristocratic and Monastic Conflict in Tenth-Century Italy: The Case of Bobbio and the Miracula Sancti Columbani’ (with Faye Taylor), Viator 44 (2013), 43-62.
9). ‘Columbanus and Jonas: New Textual Witnesses’, Peritia 22-23 (2012), 188-190.
10). ‘Constructing a Saint: The Legend of St Sunniva in Twelfth-Century Norway’, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5 (2009), 105-121.
11). ‘The Audience of the Vita Columbani in Merovingian Gaul’, Early Medieval Europe 17 (2009), 126-153.
12). ‘The Cistercian Authorship of the Earliest Norwegian Hagiography,’ in
Åslaug Ommundsen, Alf Tore Hommedal, and Alexander O’Hara (eds.), Saint Sunniva: Irish Queen, Norwegian Patron Saint, Bergen: Alvheim & Eide Akademisk Forlag, 2021, 92-113.
13). ‘The Deeds of the Saints on Selja: A Translation,’ in Åslaug Ommundsen, Alf Tore Hommedal, and Alexander O’Hara (eds.), Saint Sunniva: Irish Queen, Norwegian Patron Saint, Bergen: Alvheim & Eide Akademisk Forlag, 2021, 18-29.
14). ‘Jonas de Bobbio et l’héritage contesté de Colomban,’ in Monique Goullet (ed.), Saint Walbert: Le rayonnement du moine luxovien dans le royaume franc au VIIe siècle, Les Cahiers Colombaniens 2017, Luxeuil-les-Bains 2021, 80-91.
15). ‘Introduction: Columbanus and Europe,’ in Alexander O’Hara (ed.), Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018, 3-17.
16). ‘Jonas of Bobbio, Marchiennes-Hamage, and the Regula cuiusdam ad virgines,’ in Aurelia Bully, Alain Dubreucq, and Sebastien Bully (eds.), Colomban et son influence: moines et monastères du haut Moyen Âge en Europe, Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes 2018, 287-293.
17). ‘Ritual Communities and Social Cohesion in Merovingian Gaul’, in Dolores Castro and Fernando Ruchesi (eds.), Leadership, Social Cohesion, and Identity in Late Antique Spain and Gaul (500-700) Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2023, 103-129.
18). ‘Death in the North: Norway’s Irish Saint,’ in Salvador Ryan (ed.), Death and the Irish: A Miscellany, Dublin: Wordwell, 2016, 26-28.
19). ‘Carmen de Hibernia insula: The Earliest Poem about Ireland,’ in Salvador Ryan (ed.), Treasures of Irish Christianity Volume III: To the Ends of the Earth, Dublin: Veritas, 2015, 20-24.
20). ‘Patria, peregrinatio, and paenitentia: Identities of Alienation in the Seventh Century’, in Walter Pohl and Gerda Heydemann (eds.), Post-Roman Transitions: Christian and Barbarian Identities in the Early Medieval West, Turnhout: Brepols, 2013, 89-124.
21). ‘Death and the Afterlife in Jonas of Bobbio’s Vita Columbani’, in Peter Clarke and Tony Claydon (eds.), The Church, the Afterlife and the Fate of the Soul, Studies in Church History 45, Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2009, 64-73.
David Defries, From Sithiu to Saint-Bertin: Hagiographic Exegesis and Collective Memory in the Early Medieval Cults of Omer and Bertin (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 2019), Historische Zeitschrift 313 (2021), 195-197.
Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder (eds.), The Irish in Early Medieval Europe: Identity, Culture, and Religion (London, 2016), Published online in The Medieval Review 08.03.2017: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/23484
Response to Roy Flechner and Sven Meeder on their Reply to Review of The Irish in Early Medieval Europe: Identity, Culture, and Religion (London, 2016), Published online in The Medieval Review 21.06.2017: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/23763
Hendrik Dey and Elizabeth Fentress (eds.), Western Monasticism Ante Litteram: The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout, 2011), Early Medieval Europe 21 (2013), 343-345.
James T. Palmer, Anglo-Saxons in a Frankish World, 690-900 (Turnhout, 2009), Peritia 22-23 (2013), 384-387.
Michael Richter, Bobbio in the Early Middle Ages: The Abiding Legacy of Columbanus (Dublin, 2008), Early Medieval Europe 17 (2009), 467-468.
Marios Costambeys, Power and Patronage in Early Medieval Italy: Local Society, Italian Politics and the Abbey of Farfa, c. 700–900 (Cambridge, 2007), Journal of Ecclesiastical History 61 (2010) 595-596.
Digital Humanities Projects
The Hildemar Project (in collaboration with A. Diem, Syracuse University):
Social Cohesion, Identity and Religion in Europe, 400-1200 (ERC Advanced):
Visions of Community (Austrian Science Fund, FWF): https://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/imafo/research/historical-identity- research/projects/further-projects/das-columbanische-netzwerk/
Other Publications/ Public Engagement
Saint Columbanus: Selected Writings, ed. Alexander O’Hara, Foreword by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, Dublin: Veritas 2015.
‘The first poem about Ireland by monk who inspired Heaney and EU’s architect,’ The Irish Times, 17 March 2017.
‘Coloman: Austria’s Irish Saint’, An Irishman’s Diary, The Irish Times, 9 October 2012.
‘Coloman: Austria’s Irish Saint’, The Vienna Review, October 2012.
Historical consultant to BBC on documentary on Columbanus (Broadcast November 2015 on RTÉ and BBC).
Saint Columbanus: The First European in conversation with President Mary McAleese and Sean McDonagh (RTÉ Radio One, broadcast 1 November 2015).
- ‘A Lacuna in Irish Historiography: The Irish peregrini from Eoin MacNeill to The Cambridge History of Ireland’, Irish History Seminar Series, Boston College, 11 April 2022
- ‘Irish Émigrés at the Carolingian Court: Imagining Ireland from the Heart of Europe, 751-888’, Medieval Studies & Department of Celtic Languages & Literatures Join Lecture, Harvard University, 5 April 2022
- ‘The Irish at the Carolingian Court and the Europeanisation of Europe’, MIT Ancient & Medieval Studies Colloquium Series, MIT, 28 March 2022
- Graduate Seminar in Hagiography, Medieval History, Fordham University, 25 March 2022
- ‘The Irish at the Carolingian Court and the Europeanisation of Europe’, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame, 16 February 2022
- ‘St Sunniva: Irish Queen, Norwegian Patron Saint’, Celtic Languages & Literatures Research Seminar, Harvard University, 9 November 2021
- Patristics Symposium, St Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, 30 October 2021
- ‘St Suniva: Irish Queen, Norwegian Patron Saint’, Department of Celtic Languages & Literatures, Harvard University, 9 November 2021
- ‘Freemen outwith the Tribe: Exiles for Christ from Saints Patrick to Kilian’, Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute, Trinity College Dublin, 15 November 2021
- ‘The Cistercian Authorship of the Earliest Norwegian Hagiography’, School of History Research Seminar, University College Cork, 25 February 2021
- ‘Tilblivelsen av Sunniva legenda’, University of Bergen, Mellomalderklynga, Bryggens Museum, 7 September 2020
- ‘The Politics of Piety: Ritual and Social Cohesion in Merovingian Gaul,’ Moore Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, 21 March 2019
- ‘Making Europe: Columbanus, Robert Schuman, and the Idea of Europe,’ Lecture for 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 15 November 2018
- ‘Saint Sunniva and the Cistercians,’ I Westerled – Westward Bound, University of Bergen, Bergen, 18 October 2018
- ‘Conflicting Visions of Community: Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus,’ Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, 25 November 2017
- ‘A World After Time: Columbanus, Rome, and the Making of Europe’, Collegio San Isidoro, Rome, November 2015
- ‘Saint Sunniva and the Seljumenn’, University of Oslo, 13 October 2014
- ‘Relics, Miracles, and Rituals (c.950-1250)’, University of Oslo, 20 October 2014
- ‘Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus’, Keynote Lecture, Saint Columbanus Conference II, Dalgan Park, Co. Meath, Ireland, 29 August 2014
- ‘Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, University of Vienna, 9 April 2014
- ‘St Coloman – Patron Saint of Austria and the Babenbergs’, Keynote Lecture, International Theological Institute, Schloß Trumau, Austria, 8 November 2012
- ‘The Irish in Europe in the Early Middle Ages’, Public Lecture, The Vienna Review, Vienna, 9 October 2012
- ‘The First (Irish) Patron Saint of Austria: St Coloman and the Babenbergs’, Austro-Irish Society, Vienna, 8 May 2012
- ‘Patria, peregrinatio, and paenitentia. Identities of Alienation in the Seventh Century’, Arbeitskreis zum christlichen Diskurs der Spätantike und des Frühmittelalters, University of Vienna, 2 June 2010
- ‘The Heathen and the Holy: Memory and Narrative in Medieval Norway’, Medieval Church and Culture Seminar, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, March 2005
- ‘The Plight of the Lower Class Male in Alberto Moravia’s Racconti romani’, Departmental Seminar Italica, Department of Italian, University of St Andrews, 9 May 2002
- ‘Jonas de Bobbio et l’héritage contesté de Colomban,’ Le monachisme luxovien à l’époque de Saint Eustaise successeur de saint Colomban, Luxeuil-les-Bains, France, 18 September 2016
- ‘Jonas de Bobbio: abbè de Marchiennes-Hamage?’, Colomban et son influence. Moines et monastères du haut Moyen Âge en Europe, Luxeuil-les-Bains, France, 18 September 2015
- ‘New Research on Columbanus, the Missionary’, Saint Columbanus Conference III, Dalgan Park, Co. Meath, Ireland, 22 August 2015
- ‘Jonas of Bobbio and the Authorship of the Vita Vedastis Prima’, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 7 July 2015
- ‘Columbanus ad locum: The Establishment of the Monastic Foundations’, Irish Conference of Medievalists, University College Dublin, 2 July 2015
- ‘Columbanus’ Monastic Foundations’, East and West in the Early Middle Ages: The Merovingian Kingdoms in Mediterranean Perspective, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel, 13 April 2015
- ‘Columbanus and the Franks’, Meeting the Gentes-Crossing Boundaries: Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 22 November 2013
- ‘The Cult of St Coloman and the Babenbergs: Saint Formation and Political Cohesion in Eleventh-Century Austria’, Mittelalterliche Hagiographische Sammlungen in Zentraleuropa, Stift Klosterneuburg, 7 June 2013
- ‘Jonas and Bobbio’, Archeologia e storia di un monastero europeo, Bobbio, Italy, 24 November 2012
- ‘Saint Formation in a Marcher Society: The Cult of St Coloman and the Babenbergs’, Saints’ Cults and the Dynamics of Regional Cohesion, Croatian Academy of Sciences, Dubrovnik, 20 October 2012
- ‘Monastic Elites and the Concept of Western Europe in the Early Middle Ages’, The Idea of Christendom Symposium, International Theological Institute, Schloß Trumau, Austria, 18 June 2012
- ‘Drawing the Line: the Development of Ascetic Discourse in Merovingian Gaul’, Ethnicity and Christian Discourse in the Early Middle Ages, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 19 June 2012
- ‘Is Columbanian monasticism still a valid concept?’, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 12 July 2012 (session organiser on ‘Texts and Identities I: Was there a Columbanian Identity?’ moderated by Dr Clare Stancliffe)
- ‘Complementary Perspectives,’ Final Conference of Wittgenstein Project on Ethnic Identities in Early Medieval Europe, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 9 December 2010
- ‘Ascetic Exile and the Shaping of Irish Identity in the Early Middle Ages,’ International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 14 July 2010 (session organiser on the theme of ‘Exiles, Missionaries, and Pilgrims: Identity, Hagiography, and Pilgrimage in the Columbanian Tradition’ moderated by Prof. Paul Fouracre)
- ‘Re-evaluating the Vita Columbani: Jonas of Bobbio and the Crisis of the Columbanian familia’: Arbeitskreis zum christlichen Diskurs der Spätantike und des Frühmittelalters, University of Vienna, 4 March 2010
- ‘Jonas of Bobbio, an Italian hagiographer in the kingdom of the Franks’: Texts and Identities XIII, Frankfurt-am-Main, December 2009
- ‘Aristocratic and Monastic Conflict in Tenth-Century Italy: The Case of Bobbio and the Miracula Sancti Columbani’: Monasteries and Secular Authorities in the Pre- Millenial Medieval World, St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, July 2009
- ‘The Audience of the Vita Columbani in Merovingian Gaul’: International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 10 July 2008
- ‘Death and the Afterlife in Jonas of Bobbio’s Vita Columbani’: The Ecclesiastical History Society conference, ‘The Church and the Afterlife’, University of Leicester, July 2007
- ‘Columbanus’: Postgraduate Research Seminar, Department of Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews, March 2007
- ‘Bede and Ermenrich of Ellwangen’: Postgraduate Research Seminar, Department of Mediaeval History, University of St Andrews, May 2006
- ‘St Sunniva and the holy men of Selja: Irish hagiographical traditions on the west coast of Norway’: 17th Irish Conference of Medievalists, Kilkenny, June 2003
Administration and Service
- Committee search member, PhD candidate search, Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Spring & Fall 2021
- Conference organization committee member, Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Spring 2021
- Principal Investigator of Austrian Science Fund project ‘The Columbanian Network: Elite Identities and Christian Communities in Europe (550-750)’, Euro 200,000 in funding (2013-2016)
- Sole organizer of international conference, Meeting the gentes – Crossing Boundaries: Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe, 22-23 November 2013, Vienna
- Project member of the ERC-Advanced Grant, ‘Social Cohesion, Identity and Religion in Europe, 400-1200’, under the direction of Walter Pohl (2011-2013)
- Project member of Austrian Science Fund SFB project “Visions of Community: Comparative Approaches to Ethnicity, Region and Empire in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism (400-1600 CE)” under the direction of Walter Pohl (2011)
- Project member of Wittgenstein Prize “Ethnic Identities in Early Medieval Europe” under the direction of Walter Pohl (2009-2010)
- Committee Member for Dark Age Studies in the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies (2005-2009)
- Reviewer for The Medieval Review, Peritia, Historische Zeitschrift, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Early Medieval Europe, Traditio, Irish Theological Quarterly, Studia Celtica Fennica, Bloomsbury
Archaeological Assistant excavating early-medieval monastic site of Annegray, Franche-Comte, France, under the direction of Dr Sébastien Bully and team of French and Irish archaeologists (August 2012)
Archaeological Assistant on the island of Papa Stour, Shetland, surveying Viking-Age ecclesiastical site under the direction of Dr Barbara Crawford (University of St Andrews) and Dr Beverley Ballin-Smith (University of Glasgow) (July 2004)
Archaeological Assistant excavating early-medieval monastic site at Tarbat, Portmahomack, Scotland, under the direction of Prof. Martin Carver and team from the University of York (July 2003)