US graduate Courtney bringing rare medieval Irish manuscripts to life in Derry

Courtney pictured in the north west.Courtney pictured in the north west.
Courtney pictured in the north west.
International student, Courtney Selvage is set to graduate on Tuesday with a PhD in Irish and Celtic Studies from Ulster University’s Derry campus following her research into the cult of St Columba.

Courtney has embarked on a remarkable academic journey that spans continents and delves deep into the rich history of Celtic studies.

Her passion for the subject led her to a PhD in Irish and Celtic Studies at Ulster University’s Magee Campus in Derry, via a master’s degree in Toronto, specialising in Celtic Studies, and time at the University College Cork (UCC), where she focused on Medieval Irish.

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Speaking about her time at Ulster, Courtney said: “I have really enjoyed living in Derry and studying at the campus, especially with its fantastic department, my very supportive supervisors, and the Irish Collection in the library.

Clodagh at one of the ancient sites.Clodagh at one of the ancient sites.
Clodagh at one of the ancient sites.

"Derry has also been an ideal place for me to live because my PhD was focused on the cult of St Colum Cille (Columba) who is the patron saint of Derry, and the city is rich with traditions about him.”

Courtney's dedication to her field became evident as she spearheaded an online student-led conference at Ulster, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference, titled ‘Learning and Scholarship in Medieval Northwestern Europe’, was not only a testament to her organisational skills but also showcased her passion and commitment to learning.

The event was made possible through the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Centres for Doctoral Training in Celtic Studies, which funded the technical aspects of hosting it online.

St Columba at the foot of the cross at St Columba's Church Long Tower in Derry.St Columba at the foot of the cross at St Columba's Church Long Tower in Derry.
St Columba at the foot of the cross at St Columba's Church Long Tower in Derry.

Recently, Courtney achieved a significant milestone in her academic career, receiving an award from the Irish Manuscripts Commission. This prestigious recognition is a testament to her outstanding work in editing and making available rare manuscripts. The manuscripts, which she worked on for her PhD, were the focal point of a research seminar recently in Derry, where Courtney demonstrated her expertise and leadership over four semesters, under the guidance of her mentor.

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Courtney's involvement extends beyond the academic realm into the heart of the local community in Derry. She dedicated her time to voluntary work in the area of Columba heritage. Her contributions included manning the Columba Heritage Centre, situated near St. Columcille’s Cathedral, as an assistant.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Courtney has played a pivotal role in the North American Journal of Celtic Studies, serving for several years as student editor. She is currently teaching in Ulster’s University Derry campus, and working on numerous research projects and publications that will be released soon.

Courtney’s story stands as an inspiration for scholars in the field of Celtic Studies. Her multifaceted contributions, from remarkable research to community engagement, mark her as a trailblazer in the exploration and preservation of Celtic heritage.

If you’re interested in finding out more about undertaking a PhD, visit:

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