UCC International Office courses

Early Start Semester in Literature in Ireland & Creative Writing

Course Fact File
DurationThree-week pre-session course running from 22 August – 9 September 2022. Following completion, students continue with the regular Autumn semester.
Teaching ModeFull-time
NFQ LevelN/A
Fees€8,700 (Tuition fees include the Early Start Programme and Autumn Semester) See Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateApplications close in June

Course Outline

This course facilitates both an exploration of modern Irish literature and insights into the creative practices of some contemporary Irish writers. It focuses on the works of WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney and includes talks, Q&As, and workshops from several contemporary writers. Classroom teaching is supplemented with field trips that are designed to give an insight into the literary inheritances of modern Ireland and the nature of contemporary Irish writing.

  • Early Twentieth-Century Irish Poetry

In this section, we will read the poetry of William Butler Yeats. In particular, we will look closely at his monumental collection The Tower (1928), discussing how the Irish War of Independence, the foundation of the Irish Free State, and Yeats’s appointment as a senator all helped to shape this volume.

  • Late Twentieth-Century Irish Poetry

This section of the course will look at the work of Seamus Heaney, and in particular his landmark collection North (1975). We will examine his work in the context of the Northern Irish 'Troubles' (c. 1968-1998) and ask what made Heaney the most prominent English-language poet of his era.

Creative Writing

We will have guest workshops, lectures, and Q&As with contemporary writers, and explore the forms and ideas that inspire Irish writers who are working today.

Field Trips

Field trips are designed to complement the central texts on the course, and to introduce students to the Irish landscape, which plays such a major role in the country’s literature. Recently our students met with the acclaimed writer Doireann Ní Ghríofa at Kilcrea Abbey.

  • Field Trip with Doireann Ní Ghríofa 

Doireann Ní Ghríofa, whose bestselling book A Ghost in the Throat has been described as “powerful” (New York Times), “captivatingly original” (The Guardian), and a “masterpiece” (Sunday Business Post), was recently recognised at the UCC Alumni Awards 2022.

Our visiting students, on the English Department’s Early Start in Irish Literature and Creative Writing course, were fortunate to hear her read from her celebrated creative memoir A Ghost in the Throat (Tramp Press, 2020) on a field trip to Kilcrea, a historic ruined abbey near Cork city that is one of the central locations of her book.

Ní Ghríofa won the An Post Irish Book of the Year Award in 2020 and the James Tait Black Prize. Her first prose book, A Ghost in the Throat, was recognised as a New York Times Book of Note for 2020. At the heart of her book is the figure of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, a poet whose lament for her husband is one of the most celebrated works in Irish literature.

This event is one of a series that have been organised for students on the Early Start in Irish Literature and Creative Writing course, our new annual summer course for international students offered by the UCC English Department. Other events for students include a workshop by novelists Eimear Ryan and Danielle McLaughlin.

For more information on this course, please contact Dr Adam Hanna, Lecturer in Irish Literature at UCC.

n Ní Ghríofa, dark-haired in a patterned dress, reads from a book against the ruins of Kilcrea Abbey while a group of students look on.

Photograph by Daragh Mc Sweeney

Course Practicalities

The Early Start programme runs for three weeks in late August/September, after which students join standard classes with their Irish counterparts. On days when no field trip is scheduled, the class meets in the morning for lectures and discussion.

This course is taught by Dr Sinéad Mooney, whose publications include A Tongue Not Mine: Beckett and Translation (Oxford University Press, 2011).


Assessment is in the form of a groupwork presentation, an in-class test, and a written assignment on texts and themes discussed in class.

Why Choose This Course

I enjoyed the Early Start Literature course. It was a great introduction to Irish Culture, and the field-trips we took proved to be some of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Emily Dunn

The Early Start in Literature in Ireland programme is a comprehensive introduction to Ireland’s literature, culture, and urban and rural landscapes.

We incorporate field trips to a range of sites associated with great Irish writers which gives those of your with no previous experience of Irish writing and culture the chance to study this subject in a country with an outstanding literary heritage.

Our aim is to provide liberal arts students with an engaging and challenging overview of Irish literature. We ask you to consider different aspects of Irish literature, and the role of the landscape in the creation of the literary works of Yeats, Heaney, and several contemporary writers.

Skills and Careers Information

If you take this course you will gain a new understanding of how Irish writers created fiction and poetry out of their experience of Irish life, culture, and landscape. Reading this literature brings us closer to Irish life and culture as seen through the eyes and imagination of our great writers.

Some participants in this course choose to build upon what they have learned by taking other modules in the School of English when the term begins. Some choose to take one or more modules in the area of Irish Studies offered by, for example, the Departments of History, IrishFolklore and Music as well as English.


The minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement for admission to the program is normally 3.0 out of 4.0

Fees and Costs

€8,700 - Minor costs may be incurred for snacks or meals on field trip(s).

How To Apply

For further information see Visiting US and Non-EU Students.

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact