Dr Oonagh McArdle

Applied Social Studies

On Leave

Laraghbryan House
(01) 708 6263


I hold a passion for, and commitment to, equality, justice and human rights in my professional and personal life.

This commitment has informed my work as a community and youth worker, for 20 years and currently as a lecturer at the Department of Applied Social Studies (DAPPSS). I teach modules in community work, professional development, equality and human rights across DAPPSS programmes at undergraduate and post graduate , as well as outreach certificate and continuous professional development programmes. Currently, I co-ordinate the first year of the BSocSc in Community and Youth Work - a dual professional qualification in both disciplines.

I maintain an active involvement in promoting and supporting community work practice, including as a member of the Central Group of Community Work Ireland and as vice-chairperson of the European Community Development Network.

Research Interests

I am particularly interested in contributing to the body of knowledge related to:
  • Community work Praxis
  • Critical education for critical praxis- effective teaching and learning methods for social justice practice
  • Equality centred and gender conscious practice. 

Latest publication: Oonagh Mc Ardle, Una Murray (2020) Fit for Measure? Evaluation in Community DevelopmentCommunity Development Journal, bsaa005, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsaa005

Conference Contributions

  Year Publication
2019 World Community Development Conference 2019.
Mc Ardle, Oonagh; (2019) World Community Development Conference 2019. [Oral Presentation], Transforming worlds: An exploration of consciousness-raising in the processes of community work, Dundee, Scotland [Details]
2018 World Community Development Conference 2018.
Mc Ardle, Oonagh; (2018) World Community Development Conference 2018. [Oral Presentation], Rocking the Boat while Staying in It: Radical Community Work Praxis and Phronesis, Maynooth University Ireland [Details]
2018 International scientific conference XV. Hradec Days of Social Work New Trends and Innovations in Social Work.
Mc Ardle, Oonagh; O Shea, Marianne (2018) International scientific conference XV. Hradec Days of Social Work New Trends and Innovations in Social Work. [Oral Presentation], Community Development in Ireland: Tempered Radicalism for Transformative Change?, University of Hradec Králové Czech Republic [Details]

Professional Associations

  Association Function From / To
Community Work Ireland Central Group Member /


  Committee Function From / To
European Community Development Network Vice-Chairperson /
All Ireland Endorsement Body for Community Work Education and Training Academic member /


  Employer Position From / To
Maynooth University Department Applied Social Studies Lecturer 01-AUG-10 /
Community Workers Co-operative (now Community Work Ireland) Development worker 02-MAR-09 / 02-JUL-11
Freelance consultant Community sector facilitation, training & evaluation 02-MAR-02 / 02-MAR-07
Galway Traveller Movement Community and Youth Worker 02-JUN-98 / 02-MAR-02
Women's Aid Trainer 02-MAR-96 / 02-MAR-97
Women's Aid National Helpline Co-ordinator 02-MAR-94 / 02-MAR-96
Women's Aid Womens Support Worker 02-MAR-92 / 02-MAR-94


  Year Institution Qualification Subject
1998 Maynooth University Higher Diploma in Community and Youth Work Professional qualification
2008 Maynooth University Masters in Applied Social Studies Applied Social Studies
1991 University College Galway Bachelor of Arts Sociology and Politics, Applied Maths
2016 Maynooth University Doctorate in Social Science Rocking the Boat While Staying in It Praxis, Phronesis and Radical Community Work in Ireland


  Client Description
Mental Health Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement
Community Development Expert on the National Implementation Group

Teaching Interests

I am interested in all teaching with the potential to contribute to greater human rights and social, economic and environmental justice through praxis.  

My ethos of teaching has evolved over many years of life and diverse work experiences.
From my own experience as a student, in different institutions and in different time periods, the teaching characteristics that I most seek to emulate are enthusiasm, energy, helpfulness and openness, allied with current knowledge of and visible interest in the subject being taught and a willingness to go the extra mile in response to student interest. By contrast, those which I most assiduously seek to avoid are arrogance, ‘expertness’ and an unwillingness to acknowledge student contribution and capacity.

However having spent many years working in the community sector, it is inevitable that my teaching ethos is influenced by exposure to these experiences. Thus, working with marginalised individuals and groups has challenged and developed my thinking on power and empowerment at both the political and personal level and stimulated a commitment to social justice. Connecting this understanding and commitment with education processes has led me to a passion for critical education for transformative action. Recognising the influence of my combined experiences, I am confident that at the core of my philosophy of teaching is a commitment to student empowerment and development. However, this is not mindless of the inherent power imbalances between teacher and student but seeks to enable students to take greater control of and responsibility for their own learning, while at the same time expanding my role as a facilitator of learning. My teaching ethos is founded in the recognition of the value of mutuality and reciprocity regarding knowledge and experience exchange. All of this informs my strong belief in enquiry as a core teaching approach and as a means of stimulating a capacity for and recognition of the need for critical thinking towards critical action.

Ethical and effective community work and youth work requires both reflection and action, theory and practice - not as separate components but as inextricably linked dimensions of professional process and purpose: reflective practice, or praxis. In my teaching I continually seek to connect the doing of community work and youth work with analysis and reflection for enhanced practice. My teaching methods involve maximizing the practical experiences and insights of the students where participation, discussion and maximum student involvement ensures that the relationships between theoretical and practical learning are constantly highlighted and intertwined.