Dr Niamh NicGhabhann

Dr Niamh NicGhabhann
Academic Staff
Room: C1087

Research interests: Irish art and architectural histories; ecclesiastical architecture; antiquarianism; aspects of arts/heritage management and cultural policy.


My research areas are in art and architectural histories, critical heritage studies, and aspects of cultural policy studies.

My current research project focuses on the construction of the devotional infrastructure of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Ambition and Magnificence: Roman Catholic Architecture in Ireland, 1828-1936 is currently under contract with Liverpool University Press in their Reappraisals in Irish History series.

I am particularly interested in the construction of church buildings, and on the interactions between procession, architecture and the performance of religious identities in public space.

My research also includes work on aspects of curating and the history of exhibitions in Ireland, festivity, cultural policy, and the creative industries.

I welcome expressions of interest from potential research students interested in working on the above areas.

I am currently Chair of the Irish Humanities Alliance, and a committee member of the Catholic Historical Society of Ireland. I am also a committee member of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland.

Selected projects/ awards:

'Religious Spaces in Transition' - 2019 - 2020 (funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations scheme)

'World Within Walls' - 2012-2015 (funded by the Cavan-Monaghan HSE and in partnership with Monaghan County Museum)

Selected publications:

a) books and edited books

Building on the Past: medieval ecclesiastical buildings in Ireland, 1789-1915 (Four Courts Press, 2015)

Mapping new territories in art and architectural history: essays in honour of Roger Stalley, co-edited with Danielle O'Donovan, forthcoming with Brepols, 2020)

St. Davnet’s: the story of a Monaghan institution, co-edited with Anne MacLellan and Fiona Byrne (Stair: An Irish Public History Company Ltd., 2015)

b) journal articles and book chapters

(2020) 'Sermons and the performance of historiographical authority in the construction of the Roman Catholic built landscape, 1880-1890', in Raphaël Ingelbien and Susan Galavan (eds.) Figures of Authority in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press with the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland), pp. 118-138.

‘Church building and rebuilding in Ireland, 1829-1929’, in Paul S Barnwell, Places of Worship in Britain and Ireland, 1829-1929, Rewley House Studies in the Historic Environment 9 (Donington, Shaun Tyas, 2021 - forthcoming).

Annmarie Ryan, Niamh NicGhabhann, Muireann McMahon and Jazmin Chiodi, ‘Retreating for Interdisciplinarity: the case of the Health Research Futures Lab, Limerick’, in Armida de la Garza and Charles Travis (eds.) The STEAM Revolution: transdisciplinary approaches to science, technology, engineering, arts, humanities and mathematics (New York: Springer, 2019)

(2019) ‘“A development of practical Catholic Emancipation”: laying the foundations for the Roman Catholic urban landscape, 1850–1900'. Urban History, 46(1), 44-61

(2018) ‘Choreographies of Place: Gender and the Negotiation of Urban and Suburban Landscapes in Maeve Brennan's Fiction’, Irish University Review, 48 (2), 219-235

(2018) ‘City walls, bathroom stalls and tweeting the Taoiseach: the aesthetics of protest and the campaign for abortion rights in the Republic of Ireland’, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 32(5), 553-568

(2017) ‘Gothic Ruins and Remains: disorderly burials and respectable bodies in Irish medieval ecclesiastical buildings, 1824-1900’, Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, Vol. 16, 41-68.

(2017) ‘Writing the contemporary encounter in the museum: Dorothy Cross and Trove at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2014-15’, Éire-Ireland 52 (1&2), 244-268

(2017) ‘Medieval Ireland and the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme: reconstructing the past in Independent Ireland’, Irish Studies Review 25 (4), 425-443

(2017) Stephen Kinsella, Niamh NicGhabhann and Annmarie Ryan, ‘Designing policy: collaborative policy development within the context of the European capital of culture bid process’, Cultural Trends 26(3), 233-248

'Memory, public space and the body in Ireland: locating and negotiating the asylum in Edna O'Brien's short fiction', in Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Ruud van den Beuken (eds)., Irish Studies and the Dynamics of Memory (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2016)

Aaron Lawless, Niamh NicGhabhann, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Helen Phelan, "The harp of Aaron: the Irish harp as shopping trolley: a polyptych in four movement", in Sandra Joyce and Helen Lawlor, Harp Studies: Perspectives on the Irish harp (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2016)

(2016) (ed.) Special issue of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy on the development of cultural policy in Ireland (Issue 3), 2016

'"All the most approved modern arrangements": building for mental health care at Monaghan, 1886-1950s', in Anne McLellan, Niamh NicGhabhann and Fiona Byrne (eds)., World within walls: from asylum to contemporary health care services (Monaghan: Stair: An Irish Public History Project, 2015)

(2015) ‘Developing digital resources for the exploration of medieval Ireland: the Monastic Ireland project’, Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies - special issue on Irish studies and the digital humanities

(2015) ‘Festival studies and museum studies – building a curriculum’, Museum Ireland, the journal of the Irish Museums Association, Vol. 19

‘Irish Antiquarian Artists’, in Art and Architecture of Ireland (London and New Haven: Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014)

‘Gabriel Beranger’, in Art and Architecture of Ireland (London and New Haven: Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014)

'William Wakeman', ”Mary Ward', 'Margaret Stokes', 'Phoebe Anna Traquair' - biographical entries for Volume II, Art and Architecture of Ireland (London and New Haven: Royal Irish Academy and Yale University Press, 2014)

‘Irish architects and the restoration of medieval buildings, 1835–1904’ in Irish Gothic Architecture: construction, decay and reinvention, ed. Roger Stalley (Bray: Wordwell, 2012)

'Reconstructing the Gothic Past: Ruins and the Improving Landlord in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland' in Gothic Legacies: Four Centuries of Tradition and Innovation in Art and Architecture, eds. Laura Cleaver and Ayla Lepine (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012)

(2013) Edited section on the historiography of Irish art, Introductory essay in The Journal of Art Historiography, Vol. 9, December 2013 (e-journal, peer reviewed)

(2011) ‘Writing Irish Art Histories’, Journal of Art Historiography, Vol. 5, December 2011, (e-journal, peer reviewed)

(2009) ‘Reconstructions of the Gothic Past: Cultures of Conservation’, Artefact, the Journal of the Irish Association of Art Historians, Issue 3, (peer reviewed)

Exhibition catalogue essays and art writing:

‘Strange and familiar utopias in the paintings of Robert Ryan’, Robert Ryan: Forgotten Existence (Limerick: Limerick City Gallery of Art, 2019)

(2018) ‘Panache and punch: the painting of Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh’ Irish Arts Review, Autumn Issue

(2018) ‘Infrastructure and Vision: an overview of the 38th EVA International’, Circa Art Magazine online publication https://circaartmagazine.net/infrastructure-and-vision-an-overview-of-the-38th-eva-international/

(2018) Niamh NicGhabhann, Genius Loci (essay on the painting of Charles Harper), Irish Arts Review, Spring Issue

‘NOUGHT YTAUGHT TO SPEKE BY CRAFTE NOUPER BY KYNDE’, an essay on artist Orla Barry for mother’s tankstation gallery, Dublin, mother’s annual 2014 (Dublin: mother’s tankstation, 2017)

(2017) Niamh NicGhabhann, ‘Resemblance and Divergence – Rita Duffy at the Hunt Museum’, Irish Arts Review, Winter Issue

‘WATERMARK: between the archive and the river’, WATERMARK, ed. Niamh NicGhabhann (Limerick: The University of Limerick, 2014)

‘Founts of meaning: five contemporary artists and the books of the Irish Franciscans in Europe’, in Shaping Identities Together, ed. Niamh NicGhabhann (Dublin: The Graphic Studio, 2013)

‘Owen Walsh 1933-2002: Colour and Light’, in Colour and Light, ed. Niamh NicGhabhann (Dublin: The Owen Walsh Foundation, 2012)

‘Ancient and Modern’ in Nano Reid and Gerard Dillon, ed. Riann Coulter (Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda and the FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, 2009)

‘A Delicate Line’, in Gavin Murphy, ed., House Projects_artworks. documents.analysis. (House Projects, Dublin, 2008)

I have reviewed books for journals such as Irish Historical Studies, Irish Studies Review, Irish University Review, Cultural Sociology, British Catholic History, Architecture Ireland, Dublin Review of Books, Planning Perspectives, Cyphers and Poetry Ireland, and contribute to magazines such as the Irish Arts Review.

Selected exhibitions:

(May 2015 – February 2016) ‘World Within Walls’: exhibition held at Monaghan County Museum, exploring the history of St. Davnet’s Hospital in Monaghan town, formerly the Cavan and Monaghan District Lunatic Asylum and Monaghan Mental Hospital.

Visitor numbers to the exhibition provided by Monaghan County Museum: 13,192

(September – December 2014) WATERMARK, featuring artists Helena Enright, Fiona Hallinan, Aaron Lawless and David Lilburn, with accompanying publication with contributions from Dr. Sandra Joyce, Dr. Helen Phelan, Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Maurice Gunning. This exhibition was commissioned to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick.

(2013) ‘Shaping Identities Together: Ag Cruthú le Chéile’, featuring artists Colin Martin, Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Hughie O’Donoghue, Geraldine O’Reilly and Robert Russell. This show was exhibited at the Institute for Ireland in Leuven and in the National Print Museum, Dublin, and was accompanied by a publication with contributions from John McCafferty, Seamus Heaney, Dermot McGuinne, Joe MacMahon OFM and Niamh NicGhabhann. This exhibition was part of the cultural calendar celebrating Ireland’s holding of the EU Presidency in 2013.

(2012) ‘Owen Walsh 1933 - 2002: Colour and Light’: a retrospective exhibition celebrating the life and work of Mayo-born painter Owen Walsh, with an accompanying publication featuring contributions from Kathryn Milligan, Eileen O’Mara Walsh, Brian Fallon, Camille Souter, Paul Durcan and Niamh NicGhabhann.

Selected awards:

Member of consortium awarded funding under the Arts Council of Ireland Invitation to Collaboration scheme – The Autonomy Project, led by Limerick City and County Arts Office with Lisa McLoughlin as lead artist, 2018

National University of Ireland Scholarly Publication Grant, 2015

GradIreland and Higher Education Authority - Best New Course award for the MA Festive Arts at the 2015 GradIreland awards, Mansion House, Dublin, 2015

Member of consortium awarded funding under the Irish Research Council’s ‘Creative Connections’ scheme, (consortium led by Dr. Annmarie Ryan, UL), 2015

Marc Fitch Foundation Publication Grant, 2014

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht project grant to develop the WATERMARK exhibition and publication, 2014

NOVA UCD funding for research into innovation and the humanities, 2013

Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Doctoral Research Award, 2008-2012

Desmond Guinness Scholarship Award, The Irish Georgian Society, 2009

Homan Potterton Award, Trinity College Dublin, 2006

Trinity College Dublin Foundation Scholarship Award, 2004

Anne Crookshank Award, Trinity College Dublin, 2003