Digitisation of the dictionary of the Irish language

This project (2003-07) set out to digitise and publish the complete contents of the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of the Irish Language (DIL). The Dictionary has been an invaluable tool to scholars and students since its publication in twenty-three separate fasciculi between 1913 and 1976 but the difficulties in using the paper edition are widely recognised.

The digitised version ameliorates many of these problems and for the first time enables users to make searches of discrete data types such as translations, citations, grammatical descriptions and sources. It is hoped that the completed work will be of use to a wide range of scholars interested in medieval Ireland including linguists, historians, archaeologists, and geographers, as well as those working in modern Irish.

The digitisation of the Dictionary is essential to the future development of medieval Irish textual and linguistic studies. It has important ramifications for the electronic corpus of Irish texts being compiled in University College, Cork (CELT), and for scholars who use computers to analyse language or literature. The digitisation project should be seen against a background of increased scholarly use of digital texts, and runs in parallel to the development of the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources (DMLCS) which is leading the field in Europe in developing an electronic dictionary of Medieval Latin.


Principal investigator
Professor Gregory Toner
Principal project staff
Dr Gregory Toner
Start date
Monday, September 1, 2003
Completion date
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Source material
There is a single source for this project: The Dictionary of the Irish Language Based Mainly on Old and Middle Irish, published in twenty-three separate fasciculi by the Royal Irish Academy between 1913 and 1976. Its main focus is on the Old and Middle Irish periods (c. 700-c.1200 AD), but contains much material from the Early Modern Irish period (c. 1200-c.1650 AD) and some later matter. It is a scholarly dictionary which provides lexical and morphological information on each headword. It provides numerous citations from medieval texts to illustrate the accompanying lexical and morphological information. The digitised version reproduces the content of the paper dictionary faithfully, apart from some obvious errors. The formatting of the original is preserved in order to facilitate referencing.

Maxim Fomin and Gregory Toner, 'Digitizing a Dictionary of Medieval Irish: the eDIL Project ', Literary and Linguistic Computing (forthcoming 2005).