Dr Vera Sheridan Dr Vera Sheridan

On Tuesday 14 March, alumna Dr Vera Sheridan was presented with the Hungarian Order of Merit – Knights Cross by His Excellency Ambassador Pálffy. The ceremony took place at the Hungarian Embassy in Dublin.

Dr Sheridan lives in Dublin and works in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University. She is pictured above, with her husband Ian, daughter Aisling and son Neil.

The Order of Merit is awarded by the President of Hungary and the Knights Cross is the civilian award. Dr Sheridan’s award was given in the context of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution when she was a refugee, and recognises her contribution to Irish-Hungarian research and scholarship with and her active support of university students with their studies; for research, doctoral supervision, teaching and mentoring.

“I cannot thank my lecturers in UEA enough for the support they gave to a rather 'lost' and confused young undergraduate who was still trying to make some sense of what had happened and working hard to become British.  My identity was validated by the interest of lecturers such as George Hyde who had taught himself Hungarian but there were so many others.  In addition, my tutor Dr Roger Fowler was so very kind and helpful including making a call to the Home Office on my behalf. Such actions and interests were wonderful.”

Dr Vera Sheridan (nee Zsomboki-Timar) graduated with an Honours BA (1974) in Comparative Literature and French from the University of East Anglia and an MPhil (1996) in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College with a dissertation titled ‘The effects of social distance on the second language learning of members of an ethnic minority group settling in Ireland’. In her career in education she has worked in a range of leadership, administrative and teaching roles with the educationally disadvantaged, in distance learning, in development education and English language education. She has worked in the UK, Ireland, Malta, Syria as part of an EEC project, and Zimbabwe. She obtained a lecturing position in Dublin City University in 2003 where she was awarded a PhD scholarship and completed her PhD in 2005 in an intercultural study titled ‘With loneliness and satisfaction: tracing the path of cross-cultural adaptation by members of the Vietnamese community in Ireland’. 

Two years later she held a position at faculty level in the faculty of Humanities and Social Science as Coordinator and Chairperson of an innovative faculty degree, the BA in Contemporary Culture and Society; following a sabbatical in 2011- 2012, part of which was spent in Hungary researching in the Open Society archives in Budapest, she returned to DCU and chaired the MA in Sexuality Studies She has a strong publishing record in the area of identity across educational, organizational and national settings. 

Present interests focus on historical and contemporary research on refugees with a particular interest in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. 

She has supervised numerous undergraduate, Masters and doctoral dissertations on education and migration related issues, including Dr Katalin Palmai Banki’s thesis on 1956 Hungarian refugees in Ireland titled ‘Crossing borders from Hungary to Ireland: the cross-cultural adaptation of Hungarian refugees from the 1940s and their compatriots from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution’. The thesis made an important contribution to knowledge as it was the first piece of work to carry out an in-depth investigation of the lives of 1956 Hungary refugees in Ireland. 

Currently, she is a member of the Life History and Biographical Research network of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA), British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies and is also a member of the Scientific Committee for the network’s 2017 conference. In addition, she is working on a major work concerning refugees from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution who settled in Ireland as well as other publications.