Irish Teen Problem Solvers Win World Bronze in India

Team Ireland secures a bronze medal and two honourable mention awards at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Mysore, India


2 August 2016, Dublin, Ireland: As Team Ireland departs Ireland for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Brazil, four young Irish language code-breakers have proved themselves among the world’s best problem solvers at the Linguistics Olympiad in Mysore, India. The Irish secondary school students, sponsored and tutored by the Science Foundation Ireland funded ADAPT Centre, have won a bronze medal and two Honourable Mention awards at the event, which concluded on 29 July 2016.


Claire O’Connor (17) of St Louis High School, Rathmines, Dublin beat off competition from 180 competitors from 30 countries to secure a bronze medal. Dónal Farren (17) of St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny, Co Donegal and Pádraig Sheehy (16) of Gonzaga College, Ranelagh, Dublin won Honourable Mention awards. Just outside the awards was Richard Neville (18) of St Andrew’s College, Booterstown, Dublin.


The International Linguistics Olympiad challenges students to apply logic, computational thinking and problem-solving skills to solve some of the world’s most complex problems in linguistics and language. This year’s contest saw the Irish team members find their way around maps written in the Aralle-Tabulahan language of Indonesia, decipher Luwian Hieroglyphics, and decode expressions in the Iatmül language of Papua New Guinea.


The Irish team representatives were selected on the basis of their strong performances at the ADAPT All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) in March 2016 at Trinity College Dublin. More than 4,000 students from secondary schools in 29 counties competed in this year’s Irish finals. AILO is a key element of ADAPT’s Problem-Solving Initiative (, a nationwide initiative which aims to enhance the Irish public’s problem-solving skills.


It was revealed in India on Friday (29 July 2016) that the ADAPT Centre has bid successfully to host the International Linguistics Olympiad 2017 at Dublin City University from 31 July to 4 August 2017.


Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympiad in India, Laura Grehan, Irish team leader and Education and Public Engagement Manager at ADAPT said:

“The strong performance of the Irish team at the International Linguistics Olympiad 2016 is evidence of how the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad is helping to hone Irish students’ lateral thinking and problem-solving skills. The ADAPT Centre looks forward to hosting more than 350 people – contestants, jury members, team leaders and observers – from over 30 nations at the International Linguistics Olympiad 2017 in Dublin next summer.”


Registration for the 2017 season of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad will open in September 2016 at


For media queries contact Olivia Waters, Marketing and Communications Manager at the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology. Tel: 0879153599.  Email:  

For more information on the Problem Solving Initiative contact Ms Laura Grehan, Education and Public Engagement Manager. Tel: 087 2046518 Email:


Notes for the Editor

The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (

Run by the ADAPT Centre, the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) is a contest in which secondary school students are challenged to develop their own strategies for solving problems in fascinating languages from around the globe. Students must use their ingenuity to solve puzzles such as deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, decoding numerical spy codes, and interpreting ancient Mayan poetry. No prior knowledge of linguistics or a second language is required, as even the hardest problems require only logical ability, patient work, and a willingness to think around corners. AILO introduces students to linguistics (i.e. the study of human language) and to the application of logic to problems of language understanding and translation. The goal is to develop students’ problem-solving skills and to inspire them to consider the fascinating range of careers at the intersection of computing, linguistics and language. More than 14,000 Irish students have participated in the Olympiad to date. The top four contestants each year are selected to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad, where they pit their wits against 180 language decoders from 30 countries.

The Problem-Solving Initiative (
The Problem-Solving Initiative aims to foster the next generation of skilled problem solvers for Ireland. The two year (2016-2017) initiative is run by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. It aims to help: raise the Irish public’s awareness of and appreciation for the importance and applicability of problem-solving skills across science, the economy and society; promote STEM career pathways for those who enjoy solving problem; encourage people of all ages to hone their lateral-thinking skills; and create enthusiasm within the Irish public for problem solving by engaging people directly with exciting puzzles and mind-bending challenges. Key elements of the initiative include the expansion of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad, Dublin’s hosting of the International Linguistics Olympiad 2017, and a family-friendly problem-solving festival in Dublin Castle in August 2017. These events will be supplemented by a public awareness campaign to highlight and provide examples of the economic and social benefit of a strong problem-solving workforce, and exemplify careers requiring problem-solving skills. Mind-bending puzzles made available to the public and shared via social media

About ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology

ADAPT, the Centre for Digital Content Technology, provides a partnership between academia and industry in the field of digital content technology, leading on ground-breaking innovations in areas such as localization, social media analysis, multimodal interaction, intelligent content and media, and informal and formal learning.  Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the centre is led out of Trinity College Dublin and combines the world-class expertise of researchers at Dublin City University, University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology.


ADAPT has significant commercial expertise, having generated 7 spinout companies, multiple licenses and a large number of applied research collaborations.  ADAPT’s unique Design & Innovation Lab works with companies to bridge research and technology to enhance commercial success.