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Technological University Dublin


Athraitheach: Who do you think you are?

Athraitheach: changeable; changing; fluctuating; shifting; varying.[1]

Conceptually informed by, and materially embedded in, the latest technological developments and innovation in typeface design, this project, ‘Athraitheach: Who do you think you are?’, takes the form of a ‘variable font’[2] that, via the visual representation of language, aims to capture and engage with current public discourses around linguistic diversity and national, cultural and social identities active in the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.

It also aims to demonstrate how language and identity can, within particular contexts, become inextricably bound together, often being absorbed into, or constitutive of, the process of community and identity construction[3]. By focusing, in this instance, on ‘Irish’ and ‘British’[4] cultural, social and political identities as mediated through the material aspects of language via typography and lettering[5], the project hopes to initiate a discussion on the identities (and shades of therein) that may be revealed or activated by a less fixed, or fluid, approach to the substantiation and representation of these languages and identities.

Selected for inclusion in the Build Peace 2018 Exhibition, Ulster University Art Gallery, October 29–31 2018

Exhibit: Typeface design, interactive website, booklet and poster

Web developer + designer: Simon Sweeney

[1] De Bhaildraitha, T (1959),


[3] Ó Huallacháin, C Fr., O. F. M. (1994), ‘The Irish and Irish – a sociolinguistic analysis of the relationship between a people and their language’ Dublin: Assisi Press, p58

[4] The authors acknowledge the presence of Ulster Scots and the languages of various ethnic communities within this context and would hope to address this in a future iteration of the project. For this iteration we have focussed on the specific languages under discussion (Irish and English) in Economic, Social and Cultural Issues of The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, 3: ‘All participants recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language, Ulster-Scots and the languages of the various ethnic communities, all of which are part of the cultural wealth of the island of Ireland’. Department of the Taoiseach, Government of Ireland, The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, The Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations 10 April 1998, p20.


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typeface design, visual representation of languge, linguistic diversity, Northern Ireland, cultural, social, identiy


Arts and Humanities



Athraitheach: Who Do You Think You Are?