Welcome to Celtic Civilisation at NUI Galway

What is Celtic Civilisation?

Celtic Civilisation is the study of the legacy of the Celts in the world, from the earliest times, the sixth century BC, when we first encounter the Celts in history, through their encounters with the ancient Greeks and Romans. ‌

As part of this study, we examine the formation of the peoples and the nations of Ireland, Northern and Western Britain and France in the early Middle Ages, and also look at aspects of the Celts in early-modern and modern western Europe. Celtic Civilisation examines the history, archaeology, languages, literatures, mythologies and cultures of the Celts through the centuries.

Why study Celtic Civilisation?

This subject provides a comprehensive insight into the reality behind popular conceptions and misconceptions of the Celts in the ancient, medieval and modern incarnations. Through the study of this subject, you will be encouraged to view Celtic literature and culture in a new light, and to appreciate the legacy of the Celts, as evidenced in the literatures, languages, beliefs, customs and archaeology of Europe. Studying Celtic Civilisation will develop your research, analytical and communication skills, and further enhance your ability to present material clearly and effectively.

We offer Celtic Civilisation at undergraduate level as part of a BA (joint honours) degree. Visit NUI Galway's Courses Page for information on how to apply, entry requirements and assessment.

Course descriptors, timetables etc. for the academic year 2017-2018 are available under: First Year Booklet; Second Year Booklet; Final Year Booklet.

What do our students say?

Anne Marie Kennedy, BA (English & Celtic Civilisation), MA (Writing)

"Before studying Celtic Civilisation at NUIG, I had a general curiosity about my physical surroundings and their links to ancient places. I had unanswered questions about the origins of the Celts.

Extant manuscripts in our museums and libraries were tantalising, artistic representations on stone and early works of art confounded me, in a place where countryside and town are abundantly replete with reminders of ancient cultures.

For these reasons I chose Celtic Civilisation. I got learned, objective insights into the history, archaeology and language of the Celts. Celtic spirituality was explored, myth, legend, folklore and linguistics examined. (I was thrilled to see how old Irish and Welsh, poetry and prose, complemented my contemporary English literary studies).

Ruins of a long forgotten pagan society manifested in the present tense, respect for the natural world told a modern tale, the Celts’ fecund relationship with the earth, the very soil beneath us engendered intelligent debate in stimulating lecture halls. I recommend this course highly, without reservation."

What do our visiting students say?

Jo Moore (Visiting Student, 2015-2016)

"While studying Celtic Civilisation at NUI Galway, I enjoyed the breadth of subjects I was able to explore! Something very important to me is the approachability of the department at NUI Galway, which is not overwhelmingly large but rather a smaller but intellectually deep one, which enabled me to form a more personal connection with my lecturers.

From historical linguistics to mythology, every class was engaging ­– and I encountered a fantastic blend of literary and archaeological history, along with important attention to how these historical elements are present in today’s world. That attention to the connection between the past and present really captured my interest: learning the degree to which the presence of ancient Celtic civilisations is felt in the modern day helped contextualise my other studies. It also emphasised for me the relevance of studying Celtic Civ in college, because learning about past cultural and societal climates is the only way to truly understand the modern ones.

I particularly liked the multi-angle approach to our study of Early and Medieval History of the Celts, for example, because my personal interest in languages was fuelled by referencing linguistic evidence for the history of the Celts alongside archaeological studies and literary or oral evidence. It is truly a well-rounded approach, which engaged students of many varied interests, meaning there were a wide range of experiences in the classroom which added depth to the course!

Galway city, with its history so visible, was an especially good place to dive in to Celtic Civilisations, and NUI Galway couldn’t have been a better place for me."