UCC ACE Short courses

Myth and Magic: An Introduction to the Study of Irish Folklore and Mythology (Wed) COURSE FULL

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Myth and Magic: An Introduction to the Study of Irish Folklore and Mythology (Wed) COURSE FULL

  • Code

  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    Ten weeks, Wednesdays 7-9pm, from 27 January to 7 April 2021

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications

    Cert of Attendance

  • Fees

    €230 See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Monday 18 January 2021

  • Course Delivery Method


  • Start Date

    Wednesday 27 January 2021

Course Outline

This course provides an introduction to the subject of Irish mythology and folklore, ranging from ancient stories of heroes, gods and sacred sites, to contemporary beliefs in the supernatural (particularly fairies, the banshee and ghosts). Legends, customs, festival celebrations and storytelling traditions are explored, as well as the history of the compilation of mythology as well as folklore collection in Ireland and how the mindset and agendas of different collectors influenced different views and understandings of the collected material. Traditional Irish stories and customs are explored in order to gain insights into cultural meanings and how people make sense of the world around them.

This course provides an introduction to the study of Irish folklore and mythology. Classes cover mythological sources as well as traditional beliefs, customs and narrative traditions in the Irish context.
1. Approaches to the study of mythology and folklore
2. The Otherworld (Spiritual Realm) of Irish tradition
3. Daoine Sidhe (‘People of the Mounds’): Fairy legends and landscape
4. Festivals: Samhain and Bealtaine
5. Festivals: Imbolc and Lughnasadh
6. "St Patrick and the Serpent as Symbols in Myth and Folklore"
7. Selkies and Water Monsters: legends about Irish waterways
8. Witchcraft and magic in Irish Tradition
9. Pattern days and rag trees
10. Death omens and the wake (funeral): Beliefs about death and dying

Course Practicalities

Who teaches this course:

Dr. Jenny Butler holds a PhD from the Department of Folklore and Ethnology, UCC and currently works in the Department of Study of Religions, UCC, where she teaches on New Religious Movements and Western Esotericism. She is a specialist on Irish folk religion and is currently conducting a comparative ethnographic research project on beliefs and legends about fairies as part of the intangible cultural heritage of Ireland and Newfoundland, Canada.  Research Profile: http://publish.ucc.ie/researchprofiles/A005/jbutler

There are ten classes of two hours each. No prior knowledge of Irish culture, folklore, mythology or the Irish language is necessary


Short courses are non-assessed.

Why Choose This Course

This is a great course for anyone interested in the beliefs, stories and customs of ordinary people. It is especially suited to anyone interested in the supernatural, mythology, customs, popular religious ritual or storytelling.  The course is unique in that it provides in-depth discussion of a variety of aspects of Irish folklore, mythology, religiosity and the cultural history of Ireland. It is the only ACE course that examines topics such as fairies, ghosts and other beliefs from an academic perspective; serious attention is not often paid to these aspects of culture.


Applicants must be over 18 years of age by course commencement.

Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €230.

How Do I Apply

Course full

Contact details for this course

Year 1 Modules

Year 2 Modules

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact