Looking Back on the 10th Celtic Students Conference and Looking Forward to the Next Decade of the Association of Celtic Students


As well as the return of the sun, springtime saw the return of the Celtic Students Conference to the University of Glasgow for the first time since 2017! This conference, held at Glasgow from 30th March to 1st April 2023, was kindly supported by Foras na Gaeilge, the Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies (University of Glasgow), Culture Vannin, the University of Glasgow, and the AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training in the Celtic Languages. This support helped us make this conference the largest in its ten-year history; we welcomed over 120 attendees from 30+ institutions across Europe and North America. 

The annual conference is the main event in the calendar of the Association of Celtic Students and organised and run entirely by students working on a voluntary basis. We aim to promote academic work by students in and with Celtic languages and cultures by providing a platform for undergraduate and postgraduate students to present and discuss their Celtic-focused research (sometimes for the first time!) and to connect with each other. The conference brings together those working in the six Celtic nations; the Isle of Man, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, as well as those with an academic interest in Celtic Studies from further afield. We also provide a supportive environment for students to gain experience in writing talks, presenting, and receiving feedback on their work, and later to submit to the Celtic Students Proceedings peer-reviewed journal. 

The Celtic Students Conference 2023 was a hybrid event, with around a quarter of our 60+ papers being presented by speakers who attended the conference online. Despite our significant online component, this was the Association’s first major in-person event since 2019, and therefore represented an opportunity for students working in and with Celtic languages and cultures in academic institutions around the world to form connections that will shape their careers. The Association also encourages speakers to present papers in the six Celtic languages, to promote their use in an academic context. A key commitment we make at every conference is to provide online simultaneous interpretation into English to facilitate the use of the Celtic languages by speakers. Thanks to this policy, this year over 20 speakers chose to present their research in a Celtic language, including Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, and Manx. 

We at the Association of Celtic Students are always blown away by the quality and variety of papers presented at the conference, and this year was no exception! Celtic Studies is an inherently interdisciplinary field, and our range of papers this year reflected this well; we hosted sessions on everything from medieval Irish literature to modern Welsh sociolinguistics, from the use of the Celtic languages in videogames to Cornish lexicography. Our keynote speakers also showcased the wide-ranging nature of Celtic Studies; Dr Sheila Kidd (University of Glasgow) spoke on Gaelic in the 19th-century press, and Dr Christopher Lewin (University of Galway) spoke on the place of Manx in Celtic Studies. 

The conference also represented an excellent opportunity for our attendees to socialise, make new friends, and partake in cultural events during their stay in Glasgow. On the first night of the conference, we organised a traditional music session that featured musicians from Scotland and the Isle of Man. These excellent artists played a variety of tunes from Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, which were also livestreamed. This night was a highlight of the conference and welcomed attendees in true Glasgow fashion! 

Immediately after the conference, at our Annual General Meeting we welcomed several new members to various offices within the Association. Attendees were keen to support our creative outputs, including our blog, podcast, and social media, to become involved in the organisation of the Association, as well as to put their name down to host the next Celtic Students Conference! If you would like to get a taste of the Association’s work, and to bask in the post-conference glow, please check out the latest episode of the Celtic Students Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and other streaming platforms.

We are incredibly proud of all we have achieved with this year’s conference. The community and welcoming atmosphere we have managed to build, as well as the intellectual rigour and creative energy we foster through our events, is the lifeblood of the Association of Celtic Students, and leaves a legacy that we hope continues many years into the future. We would like to thank every attendee, presenter, interpreter, and chair, as well as our sponsors gura mie mooar eu ooilley. Here’s to next year’s conference! 

-Erin McNulty, Chair of the Celtic Students Conference 2023 


Students of Celtic Studies, no matter how geographically scattered, what languages they speak, or what discipline they focus on, benefit greatly from meeting, talking to each other about their research, and becoming friends. The Association of Celtic Students has proved this time and time again over the past 10 years. The 2023 Celtic Students Conference, our 10th annual conference, was no exception as you have seen! As we mark this significant anniversary, and the Association continues to grow internationally, now comprising committee members based in Ireland, the UK, France and the US, our work reflects the future of Celtic Studies 

As we embark upon the second decade of the Association of Celtic Students, we would like to ask your opinion. What has your experience with the Association been like? If you have ever attended a conference, formed part of the committee, read a blog post, listened to a podcast episode, or even if you've just now heard of us on social media, we would like to hear from you here. Your (anonymous) feedback will be extremely useful to us as we work to improve all that we do, and as we prepare our roundtable for the upcoming XVIIth International Congress of Celtic Studies in Utrecht (Netherlands) in July 2023, entitled "The Association of Celtic Students: Bridging the gaps and blazing a trail in Celtic Studies". We would especially love to hear about any special memories made thanks to the Association!  

And so, without further ado, it is my pleasure to announce that the 2024 Celtic Students Conference will be held in Brest, at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, thus coming to Brittany for the first time in the Association's history! Gourc’hemennoù da Elisabeth Chatel and Seongwoo Kang for leading this fantastic new venture. We look forward to seeing you all there next year, if not sooner at the Congress of Celtic Studies (or elsewhere)!  

-Nina Cnockaert-Guillou, Chair of the Association of Celtic Students 


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