O’Donnell Fellowship

The O’Donnell Fellowship commemorates the donation to Newman College of the personal library of Melbourne-based doctor and Irish scholar, Nicholas Michael O’Donnell (1862-1920). This collection of books, pamphlets and manuscripts, many in the Irish language, was presented in 1924, ‘subject only to the condition that Dr O’Donnell’s name should be permanently associated with the gift’.1

ApplicationsPrevious Fellowships

The O’Donnell Fellowship in Irish Studies

The O’Donnell library forms the core of an Irish Studies collection that has grown since 1924 with further donations and acquisitions relating to Ireland. Highlights of the collection include many 19th-century Irish histories and Irish-language publications. There are two 19th-century manuscripts, both available online at Irish Script on Screen, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.

More recent additions to the collection include a set of books on Irish themes from the library of Daniel Mannix (1864-1963), Irish-born former Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne; and a folder of papers and poems of Seamus Heaney.

The Irish Studies collection is now housed in the Gerry Higgins Room in the Academic Centre shared by Newman College and St Mary’s College. The room’s name pays tribute to a donor to Newman College, whose family and friends have also funded the Gerry Higgins Chair of Irish Studies at the University of Melbourne.

The collection is largely catalogued and records are available for searching via the Academic Centre’s library catalogue.

In addition there are extensive Irish Studies resources in libraries close by, particularly the University of Melbourne and the State Library of Victoria.

The O’Donnell Fellowship is available for the period Wednesday 4 January – Sunday 12 February 2023*

The O’Donnell Fellowship aims to:

  • Support scholars, especially new scholars, in Irish Studies and Irish History;
  • Promote the Irish Studies library to a research audience;
  • Add value to the library by encouraging scholarship based around it;
  • Enhance the Academic Centre’s role as a community of scholars;
  • Strengthen ties between the Centre and the Irish Studies community.

The O’Donnell Fellowship, which is non-stipendiary, offers physical and intellectual space to a scholar with an interest in Irish Studies, for a period of 6 weeks. The offering includes:

  • College living quarters and all meals;
  • Access to the Academic Centre building and collections;
  • Research space in the Gerry Higgins Room;
  • Access to the University of Melbourne library;
  • $2000 for travel and other expenses.


Applicants should have a demonstrated track record in Irish Studies. This could take the form, for example, of a relevant academic degree; and/or the completion of relevant courses or projects; and/or the publication of relevant books or articles. Previous applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, are welcome to re-apply.

Application Process

Fellowship applications should address ways in which the Irish Studies collection in the Academic Centre, and wider Irish Studies resources in Melbourne, could be used to further a research project upon which the applicant is engaged.

To submit an application please include a letter and accompanying CV with the names of two referees.

*Applications for the O'Donnell Fellowship are currently closed. The global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and international travel restrictions may result in the dates of the Fellowship changing for 2023 which is beyond our control. it is a fluid situation and we are willing to postpone the dates of the Fellowship as agreeable to both parties. 


Kathleen Kilmartin


Kathleen Kilmartin
St Marys Newman Academic Centre
c/o Newman College, 887 Swanston Street
Parkville VIC 3052

Applications will be considered by a committee including Dr Dianne Hall, Senior Lecturer in History, Victoria University, Ronan McDonald, Gerry Higgins chair in Irish Studies, University of Melbourne, Val Noone, Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne and myself. 

Successful Applications

The O’Donnell Fellowship holder will be expected to present a seminar in the Melbourne Irish Studies Seminar (MISS) series, hosted at the St Mary's Newman Academic Centre by the Irish Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand (ISAANZ). In addition, results of the research must be submitted for publication in the Australasian Journal of Irish Studies. In consultation with the editors, this may be in the form of a research report or a peer-reviewed scholarly article. It is expected that any such work produced will acknowledge the support of the Fellowship. The Fellowship holder will also need to supply a trancript of the seminar to Newman College and St Mary's College. 

More information

For more information about the fellowship please email Kathleen Kilmartin at kkilmartin@snac.unimelb.edu.au.

Previous fellowship visitors and research areas

2021: Tara McEvoy (PhD candidate, Queen's University Belfast)
Seamus Heaney in Melbourne.

2020: Dr Darragh Gannon (Queen's University Belfast)
Making Mannix Global, 1919-1923: a Melbourne reader as part of an international project, A global history of Irish Revolution, 1916-1923.

2019: Regina Ui Chollatain (UDC)
Irish language Media and Revival in a global context.

2018: Dr Barry McCarron (New York University)
The Global irish and Chinese: Migration, Exclusion, and Foreign Relations Among Empires, 1784-1904.

2017: John Cunningham (NUI Galway)
Writing the life story of Tom Glynn (1881 - 1934): syndicalist, labour journalist and anti-war campaigner.

2016: Aileen Dillane (University of Limerick)
Cecilia Curtin as Irish Australian entertainer, vocal pedagogue, and Catholic chorister, Melbourne c. 1906?- (Performances, Texts, Contexts).

2015: Larry Geary (UCC)
The medical career of Nicholas O’Donnell.

2014: Miriam O’Donovan (PhD candidate, UCC)
Irish language song texts.

2013: Tadhg Foley (NUI Galway)
The life of William Hearn.

July 2012: Carla King (St Patrick's Drumcondra, Dublin)
A biography of the later life of Michael Davitt including Davitt’s 1895 tour of Australia.

2012: Nicholas Wolf (New York University)
The written Irish of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

2011: Niall O Ciosain (NUI Galway)
The print cultures of the four Celtic languages – Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton – in the period 1700-1900.

2010: Kevin Molloy (State Library of Victoria)
Nicholas O’Donnell’s book collection in comparison with that of Edward Hayes.

2010: Jonathan O’Neill (PhD Candidate, ANU)
Contemporary re-identification with the Irish language.

  1. Letter from Frank Brennan (1873-1950), Dr O’Donnell’s son-in-law and later Australian Federal Attorney-General, to the Rector of Newman College on 3 July 1924).