About the Department

The Department of Early and Medieval Irish is a core member of Scoil Léann na Gaeilge (School of Irish Learning) and of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences. Its main teaching and research are devoted to the language and literature of Old Irish and Middle Irish (covering the approximate period AD 650-1200). The Department is also the centre in UCC for the larger subject area of Celtic Studies, including the medieval history and literature of Wales and Scotland, the deeper past of the Celtic-speaking peoples, and the origins and interrelationships of the Celtic languages (including Irish).

Members of the Department are actively engaged in research on a broad and diverse range of topics in Irish literary and cultural history, on which their expertise is recognised internationally: these include heroic saga, law, cosmology, legendary history, cultural connections between Ireland and Scotland and between Ireland and Wales, placenames, relations between the learned classes and their princely patrons, the transmission/recovery of traditional knowledge, and the portrayal of the Irish Otherworld. Edition and analysis of original texts is central to this work.  Early Irish religious material is an area of special interest, in particular saints’ Lives, prayers, litanies, hymns and apocrypha. Departmental research is carried on both individually and within the framework of ongoing projects, such as the Locus Project and Apocrypha Hiberniae.

UCC was the first university to offer a BA course in Celtic Civilisation. This course has continued to grow and develop since its introduction by the Department of Early and Medieval Irish in the mid-1980s, adding further modules and attracting students of all ages from Ireland, from elsewhere in Europe, from North America, and occasionally from even further afield. Such diversity provides lively stimulation for all involved. The programme in Celtic Civilisation provides a full degree qualification, which may be taken in combination with another Arts subject, in accordance with Calendar regulations. Moreover, modules from this Celtic Civilisation programme are available as minor subject components for those taking major or combined degree options in other Arts subjects.

The Department offers a range of postgraduate programmes: MA in Celtic Civilisation, in Early and Medieval Irish and in The Beginnings of Irish Christianity; and MPhil and PhD in Celtic Civilisation and in Early and Medieval Irish. In conjunction with several other Departments, the Department also plays a central role in the MA in Irish Studies. Our postgraduates may go on to further postgraduate study, to postdoctoral research, or to teaching appointments.

The Department participates in the BA in Gaeilge / Irish, offering modules in Old Irish language and literature in both the second and third years. Teaching for the BA in Irish is through the medium of the Irish language. We value this contribution to Gaeilge / Irish, which ensures that all graduates in Irish language and literature are made familiar with the full spectrum of the subject.

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