SS118 Introduction to Art in Ireland

This course introduces students to a rich variety of Irish art forms and traditions from c. 3500 BC to the present day. Beginning with decorated megaliths from the Neolithic and the wonderful corpus of Irish Bronze Age gold work, the course then examines 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, into the 7th and 8th century. Fantastical animals from Germanic art were also incorporated into Insular art styles during this period. This half of the course culminates with the sublime artistic achievements of the ‘Golden Age’ of Irish art such as the Book of Kells, the Tara Brooch and the Ahenny high crosses. In addition to their aesthetic appeal, in revealing cross-cultural influences and the more arcane concerns of their audience, these objects provide a unique window on the past that will be explored through iconographical analysis.

The second half of the course explores the development of modern art in Ireland. It examines how the ‘rediscovery’ of Ireland’s early artistic legacy informed later artists, culminating in the ‘Celtic Revival’ of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students will learn to appraise and evaluate a broad spectrum of Irish art, including the work of Jack Yeats, Mainie Jellett, and Louis le Brocquy. The course will conclude with an overview of trends in contemporary Irish art. A key question underlying the various strands of the course will be the development of a distinctly Irish cultural identity in the visual arts and the influence of international trends on Irish artists throughout the ages.



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.

Module Co-Director, Jennifer Mc Carthy, M.A., Ph.D

Dr Jennifer Mc Carthy is a graduate of University College Dublin and the Centre for Irish Studies, NUIG. She is an art historian and curatorial researcher at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Tuition and Fees

€2,010 (Euro)

€1,310 - Family Guesthouse (with Irish breakfast – single occupancy)
€1,160 - Family Guesthouse (with Irish breakfast – sharing) 
€850  - Student Residence (without breakfast -single occupancy)

Further Information

Programme Administrator
International Summer School Programme
NUI Galway

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