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Dr Noel O Connell awarded prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship Dr Noel O Connell awarded prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship


Dr Noel O Connell awarded prestigious Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship



Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is delighted to announce that PhD graduate, Dr Noel O Connell, has been successful in his application to the highly prestigious Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme for his project ‘Belonging: An auto ethnography of a life in sign language’.

Dr Noel O Connell awarded prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship

Mary Immaculate College
Picture Credit Brian Gavin Press 22

Following the announcement Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC said, “I am delighted to offer my congratulations to Dr. O’Connell on this remarkable achievement. This is the first occasion on which an applicant from MIC has won an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship; this achievement is all the greater, given that Dr O’Connell is a member of the deaf community. We wish him every continued success with this project”.

Dr. O’Connell’s research project is directed at an issue of central societal interest: how to understand and improve the quality of education and social life for deaf people. Speaking on the announcement Dr. O’Connell said “I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded the Government of Ireland postdoctoral research funding by the Irish Research Council. It is a fantastic opportunity to work on an area of research that has received almost no attention and is, therefore, a timely study that renders voice to the educational experiences of deaf people”. Commenting on his proposed research he said“This award will allow me to conduct auto-ethnographic research that will provide an alternative perspective on deaf education and help inform policy on finding a solution for improving educational outcomes for deaf children. This project has considerable potential to disseminate a number of contributions not only to deaf education but also across disciplines such as disability studies, studies in equality and human rights, special education and issues around inclusion”. Concluding he thanked Professor Jim Deegan, Dr. Ger Downes and Dr. Jessica Kindler from the Graduate and Research School at Mary Immaculate College for their “unstinting support and endorsement of this project which I’m very proud to undertake”.


Prof. Michael Healy, Associate Vice President of Research, MIC, congratulated Dr. O’Connell saying; “The Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship award signifies excellence in research and facilitates the career development of researchers by funding those at an early stage of their research career. This enhances Ireland’s innovation capacity and skills base in the global environment. We are confident that Noel’s research project, ‘Belonging: An auto ethnography of a life in sign language’ will make a significant contribution to new and innovative research in this field”.

Dr. Noel O’Connell graduated with a Ph.D. in Education (Sociology) from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick in 2013. His doctoral research specialised in a critical auto-ethnographic study of deaf people’s experience of education and culture in the Republic of Ireland. Dr. O’Connell successfully completed a Specialist Diploma Course in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship at the Centre for Teaching and Learning at University of Limerick in 2014. He holds a Master of Philosophy degree in Deaf Studies (Social Science) from University of Bristol, a Master of Science in Literature and Cultural Politics from University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in English Literature from University of Ulster. His research interests include qualitative research, auto-ethnography, symbolic interactionism, deaf history and education, sign language studies, post-modern and post-colonial theories. He has published in Irish Educational Studies journal and a number of research papers are in press at leading international academic journals. Dr. O’Connell secured a publishing contract with Peter Lang Press for a book based on his auto-ethnographic writing.

Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Irish Research Council, noted that “this very competitive scheme funds excellent research across all disciplines and, in doing so, these postdoctoral fellowships support highly creative and innovative people. It is no coincidence that five of the recent European Research Council awardees in Ireland are former Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellows from across the sciences and humanities. The Council is proud of its awardees’ achievements and looks forward to supporting Dr. O’Connell’s research.”

According to Prof. Jim Deegan, Head of Graduate School, Dr. O’Connell’s postdoctoral research project will yield valuable insights on the webs of meaning and significance experienced in the deaf culture and will help to write deaf culture into the grand narrative of social, educational and cultural realities in contemporary Ireland.

Dr. O’Connell will commence his research on 1st October 2015.

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