Team Selected to represent Ireland at International Linguistics Olympiad

Students from Kildare and Dublin clinch the four team spots out of 100 of Ireland’s top young problem-solvers at the National Final of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad.

Four students have qualified to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) this Summer. Making up the team are Justin Cunningham from Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge, Co. Kildare who is the 2021 ADAPT All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) National Champion. Justin also made the team last year when the internationals were unfortunately cancelled, and is a previous Junior Champion. Joining him on the IOL team are Oscar Despard (Sandford Park School, Ranelagh, Dublin) who got second place, Natalia Timulakova (Holy Faith Clontarf, Dublin) who came third and David Wright (Lucan Community College, Dublin) who placed fourth. Natalia’s twin sister, Dominika, also did exceptionally well in the competition, getting fifth place overall. 

AILO also runs a Junior (under 16s) category to encourage younger students to take part. Megan Boland from Ursuline Secondary School Thurles, Tipperary is the Junior Champion this year as well as placing 7th overall. Hannah Clune and Emer Phelan, from Coláiste Muire Ennis, in Clare got second and fourth respectively, while Cormac Hannon, from Gonzaga College in Dublin got second place to round out the Junior Category.

The National Final saw the students tackle some of the toughest puzzles in logic and  linguistics in little-known languages from all over the globe.The final, and the Preliminary Round in January, were both held online remotely due to the pandemic. Depending on government restrictions etc., AILO is aiming to run the International competition papers remotely from Dublin City University during the week 19-23 July.  


About AILO

The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) challenges students to use their lateral thinking skills to solve puzzles in languages from all over the globe. Students must analyse the data they are given to work out the ‘rules’ of this new language. These transferable skills are very important in other subjects such as Maths, Coding and learning new languages. 

In 2020, AILO was awarded the prestigious European Language Label (ELL) for the “very successful transition to online AILO”. The current 2020/1 AILO season has moved fully online to continue to engage with students at home with ADAPT tutors running 25 free online workshops and the preliminary round running fully online from home. AILO teacher, Olivia Moore of Methodist College Belfast, said of the preliminary round, “for our AILO candidates this year, for 2.5 hours on a Monday morning in January, the world seemed almost normal!”

Sample puzzles from the Olympiad can be downloaded at

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