SS118 Introduction to Art in Ireland : Exploring Ireland’s vibrant artistic heritage from prehistory to the ‘Golden Age’

Ireland has a rich and vibrant artistic heritage, extending back to c. 3500 BC; this course traces the development of Irish art beginning with decorated megaliths and the exquisite corpus of Irish Bronze Age gold work, before turning its attention to the introduction of Celtic or La Tène art styles into Ireland around the 4th century BC.

Following the Roman conquest of western Europe, the Classical roots of La Tène art  re-emerge as  a dominant  element in Irish art of the first few centuries AD and continue, as a core element in the motif-book of early Christian art, in to the 7th and 8th century. Dominated by fantastical animals, Germanic art of Dark Age Europe was also incorporated into Insular art styles. An appreciation of style, symbolism and iconography in Early Christian art is integral to this module and treated in relation to the sublime artistic achievements of the ‘Golden Age’ of Irish art such as illuminated manuscripts, ecclesiastical metalwork such as the Ardagh Chalice and Irish high crosses. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, in revealing cross-cultural influences and the more arcane concerns of its audience, early Irish art provides a unique window on the past that can be explored through iconographical analysis.

 This course includes a trip to the National Museum and the Book of Kells Exhibit in Dublin.



Module Director: Dr. Louis de Paor 

Louis de Paor was educated at University College Cork. He has published articles on a broad range of writing in Irish from the court poetry of medieval Ireland to the work of contemporary poets such as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Michael Davitt. His books include a study of narrative technique in the short fiction of Máirtín Ó Cadhain and an anthology of twentieth century poetry in Irish co-edited with Seán Ó Tuama. He is currently working on a study of the writings of Flann O’Brien. He is Director of the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway.


Module Director, Conor Newman, M.A., F.S.A 

Conor Newman lectures in archaeology at NUI Galway. His research is in the areas of early medieval art history & iconography, & royal & cult landscapes. He directed the Discovery Programme’s Tara Archaeological Survey Project & his research at Tara is on-going. He was visiting professor of Celtic Archaeology at the University of Toronto, & editor of the Journal of Irish Archaeology (03-08). He is co-director of the Columbanus Life & Legacy Project (Moore Institute, NUI Galway), a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London & Chairman of the Heritage Council.


Module Co-Director, Fiona Gavin Ph.D

Fiona Gavin is a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Galway where she currently lectures in Irish Art from the Early Iron Age to the 8th Century A.D.  Her research and publications are focused on the art and iconography of the Insular world of Britain and Ireland during the late Iron Age and Early Christian period.

Tuition and Fees

€2,100 (Euro)

€1,310 - Family Guesthouse (with Irish breakfast – single occupancy)
€1,160 - Family Guesthouse (with Irish breakfast – sharing) 
€875  - Student Residence (without breakfast -single occupancy)

Further Information

Programme Administrator
International Summer School Programme
NUI Galway

Tel: +353 91 495442
Fax: +353 91 525051



Applications open November 2016