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Building & Supporting a Research Ecology-Contribution to SDG4 & SDG11

Updated: Apr 14, 2019

Pictured bottom right, PhD student Aoife Crummy and her supervisor Professor Dympna Devine (bottom left) at the stunning Cill Rialaig village, Ballinskelligs with their international research colleagues last September, 2018.

CoDesRes is part of a bigger vision; to develop a research ecology in Kerry by building on the recommendations that emerged from the Imagining Iveragh project, 2015 and is continued through the work of Living Iveragh and SMARTlab Skelligs, University College Dublin (UCD).

Living Iveragh is a designated activity company, that aims to support the development and promotion of learning, research, innovation and enterprise. This, with the three PhDs and first Masters’ student, SMARTlab Skelligs, UCD is forming a foundation that is already enabling additional projects, with the launch of their VR First lab, the first rural lab in Ireland and with two additional projects in partnership with Sea Synergy .

Kerry has a history of local enterprise and innovation, which continues today e.g. IT Tralee’s STEM Institute, Kerry Group’s Global Technology and Innovation Centre and the development of digital hubs on both the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas. This in combination with a number of research studies and global reports (Bellini, 2008; Docquier et al, 2018; Duncan, 2008; Kerr, 2018; Ozgen,2011) all evidences the creation of new ideas, knowledge spillovers, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. CoDesRes, by supporting local researchers and projects as well as community organisations is already contributing to a local sustainability through increasing employment and local enterprise.

As part of showcasing an emerging local research ecology, CoDesRes invited local research colleague and PhD candidate, Aoife Crummy, from UCD’s School of Education to share details of her research that contributes to SDG 4 - Quality Education and SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities. Aoife is based in S.W. Kerry and her research contributes to our understanding of these goals through addressing issues of education (formal and informal local knowledge /skill-sets), migration and identity, as well as social, cultural, environmental and economic changes.

In Sept 2018, Aoife invited the research team to Kerry for their 3rd international seminar hosted in the Royal Valentia Hotel, which contributes to the opportunities a research ecology can bring. Aoife and Prof. Dympna Devine (School of Education, University College Dublin) were thrilled to welcome the team from Norway, The Faroe Islands, Cyprus and Australia to South West Kerry for their 3rd international seminar hosted in the Royal Valentia Hotel. The setting couldn’t have been more fitting to showcase the Irish context of the multidisciplinary research collaboration entitled: ‘Valuing the Past, Sustaining the Future: education, knowledge and identity across three generations in coastal communities; a comparative approach.’ The project is being funded by the Research Council of Norway (2016-2021) and led by Professor Anne Trine Kjørholt, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The Iveragh Peninsula is one of two sites chosen by Aoife for both the purpose of her PhD and the broader project. Aoife has been interviewing families locally spanning 3 generations (grandparents, parents and young people) over the last 2 years. The interviews have covered topics such as education (formal and informal local knowledge/skill-sets), migration and identity, as well as social, cultural, environmental and economic changes. The broader project lends a comparative element to her work to enable her to see how small coastal communities in these other countries have changed over the last three generations. Aoife is living in Ballinskelligs with her family and on a personal note, she hopes her research can contribute to the sustainability of her community and other small coastal communities like this on a global scale.

Her approach to research is ethnographic, meaning Aoife feels strongly about the need to have real tangible experiences within the research field rather than basing herself solely within the university. She is delighted to have the opportunity to do just this here in S. W. Kerry, working remotely in a place she describes as truly inspirational. This year Aoife is spending time in her local primary school; Scoil Naomh Mhicil, Ballinskelligs, where she is actively participating in informal educational practices in the organic school garden and other collaborative initiatives between school and community groups such as Ballinskelligs Environmental Action Group (BEAG). Although many small coastal communities are suffering in declining youth populations, the closure of schools and social infrastructures on a global scale, Aoife stresses the importance of research and innovate collaborative projects in contributing to the long-term sustainability of these transitioning communities.

She describes having the international team in S. W. Kerry as an honour and a testament to Iveragh as an international learning space with increasing opportunities to share, collaborate and further develop existing knowledge bases. Two days of fruitful seminars were held in the Royal Valentia, but the group of course made time for exploring the local landscape and cultural heritage of S. W. Kerry! The highlight of the few days was without doubt the trip to Cill Rialaig village where CoDesRes resident storyteller (Seán O'Laoghaire) narrated the renowned stories of Seán Ó’ Connaill by fireside, in the house where the legendary seanchaí grew up.

Seán O'Laoghaire; Seanchaí and CoDesRes and NAISC storyteller in residence

This magical atmosphere continued to the Cill Rialaig Arts Centre where local artists and organic gardeners Steve and Alexis O'Connell created a buffet of their own organic local produce for the group. Local musicians Peter and Rose Malarchy wowed the team with their collection of local and Scottish songs, all thoughtfully themed around the sea! The hard graft put into the organisation of these few days was certainly made worthwhile for Aoife and all involved when one of the Norwegian Professors said of her time in Kerry: “I will remember this for the rest of my life.”

The project website is currently under re-construction but a link to the Norwegian research strand can be found here: We will be checking in with Aoife again this Autumn to find out how the project is developing within Iveragh.

Introduction References:

Bellini, E., Ottaviano, G.I.P., Pinelli, D. and Prarolo, G. 2008. Cultural Diversity and Economic Performance: Evidence from European Regions. HWWI Research Paper 3-14, Hamburg Institute of International Economics.

Docquier, F, R Turati, J Valette and C Vasilakis (2018), “Birthplace Diversity and Economic Growth: Evidence from the US States in the Post-World War II Period”, IZA DP No. 11802.

Duncan, N.T. 2008. Brain Drains, Brain Gains and Migration Policies. In: J. Poot, B. Waldorf and L. van Wissen Eds Migration and Human Capital, Cheltenham UK.

Ozgen, Ceren and Nijkamp, Peter and Poot, Jacques, Immigration and Innovation in European Regions (August 11, 2011). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 11-112/3. Available at SSRN: or

Imagining Iveragh’s Interstitial Zones was a major IwB initiative and partnership with the Kerry County Council, and other local stakeholders, in southwestern Ireland. The project focuses on creating sustainable economic development that will provide new job creation in the region.

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