Course Overview

The MA in Old and Middle Irish is designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in the Irish language and the literature of the period c. 600–c.1200. It is aimed at those who already have a good basic knowledge of Irish (Medieval or Modern) or another Celtic language and, in exceptional circumstances, at those who have an appropriate other background to undertake the study of Old and Middle Irish from the beginning. 

Staff help to identify thesis topics which may lend themselves to eventual publication. While teaching is through English, (to accommodate students from different backgrounds), the use of Irish is actively supported, and the University’s bilingual campus is of special benefit to all students of Irish, of whatever period.

Scholarships

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

  • Dr Graham Isaac, BA, PhD
  • An tOllamh Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, BA, MA, PhD
  • Dr Clodagh Downey, BA, MA, PhD 

Requirements and Assessment

Assessment takes three forms: written examinations, essays, and a minor thesis. Essays are completed during Semester One and Two. Written examinations are held at the end of both semesters. The minor dissertation is completed by the end of the summer.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

NQAI Level 8 degree or equivalent, Second Class Honours or equivalent. IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.


Additional Requirements

Duration

1 year, full-time | 2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2021

A Level Grades ()

Average intake

15

Closing Date

You are advised to apply early, which may result in an early offer; see the offer round dates

NFQ level

Mode of study

Taught

ECTS weighting

90

Award

CAO

Course code

1OMI1, full-time | 1OMI2, part-time

Course Outline

The programme is simultaneously available on a full-time and a part-time basis. In both cases, 60 of the total 90 credits (ECTS) are allocated to taught modules, and the remaining 30 to the minor thesis.

Full-time students follow a prescribed taught course for two semesters (from September to April approximately), following which they complete a dissertation of ca. 15,000 words over the summer. They attend approximately eight lectures each week in both semesters.

The programme offers modules in the following:

  • Grammar of Old and Middle Irish
  • Literary History 600–1200
  • Close reading of medieval Irish texts
  • History, scholarship and culture in medieval Ireland
  • Comparative Celtic linguistics 

Modules for Full-Time Course

Modules for Part-Time Course

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

Credits
You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
Module
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Optional
A module you may choose to study.
Required
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Semester
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

Required SG527: Minor Thesis (MA in Old and Middle Irish)


15 months long | Credits: 30

Research towards a thesis of 15,000-20,000 words will be undertaken under the direction of a supervisor who will meet with the student regularly to provide advice and information relevant to the ongoing work. Possible research topics include, but are not limited to, work on particular texts (including editorial work), literary themes, aspects of literary history, linguistics topics (synchronic and diachronic), and historical topics. Students acquire first-hand experience of various research methodologies in the course of writing their minor thesis. Staff work closely with students to identify thesis-topics that may lend themselves to eventual publication or further development at PhD level.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. tbc
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG527: "Minor Thesis (MA in Old and Middle Irish)" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG510: Grammar of Old & Middle Irish I


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This course offers an introduction to Old Irish grammar and syntax in standardised language. Students can expect to acquire a basic competence in reading simple texts in standardised Old Irish. The core text is David Stifter, Sengoídelc. Old Irish for Beginners (Syracuse University Press, 2006), and recommended supplementary materials include E.G. Quin, Old Irish Workbook (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1975) and John Strachan and Osborn Bergin, Old-Irish Paradigms and Selections from the Old-Irish Glosses (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 2003 (reprint of 1949)).
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read straightforward sentences in standardised Old Irish.
  2. Translate straightforward sentences from standardised Old Irish into English.
  3. Parse straightforward sentences in standardised Old Irish.
  4. Give an account of the basic features of the grammar and syntax of Old Irish.
  5. Locate and use beginners' aids to reading and understanding Old Irish.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Sengoídelc" by David Stifter
    ISBN: 0-8156-3072-7.
    Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  2. "Old-Irish Paradigms and Selections from the Old-Irish Glosses" by Bergin, Osborn and Strachan, John
    Publisher: Royal Irish Academy
  3. "Old-Irish Workbook" by E.G. Quin
    Publisher: Royal Irish Academy
The above information outlines module SG510: "Grammar of Old & Middle Irish I" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG511: Grammar of Old & Middle Irish II


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This course offers an introduction to Old Irish grammar and syntax, using extracts from real texts in language of the period 700-900, and an introduction to the main features of Middle Irish (900-1200). The core texts are Kim McCone, A First Old Irish Grammar and Reader, including an Introduction to Middle Irish (2005), and Rudolf Thurneysen, A Grammar of Old Irish (1949). Supplementary readings will be recommended in class.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read a variety of texts in Old Irish prose and verse.
  2. Translate excerpts from Old Irish prose and verse texts.
  3. Parse sentences from Old Irish prose and verse texts.
  4. Give a detailed account of the grammar and syntax of Old Irish.
  5. Locate and use some of the main resources required for reading and understanding Old and Middle Irish.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG511: "Grammar of Old & Middle Irish II" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG514: History, Scholarship & Culture in Medieval Ireland


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module deals with some of the key social institutions of early medieval Ireland, Scotland and Wales (such as kinship, fosterage, marriage and clientship), with some of the key political and ecclesiastical institutions of medieval Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and with the hierarchies of the learned orders of the church and secular society. Primary texts (especially legal texts) and a range of secondary reading will be recommended at the outset of the course. Other topics that may be addressed include: international relations between the Celtic countries, and between them and other cultures of western Europe; the impact of the Romans on the Celtic cultures of the British Isles; language loss and language revival; the politics of conquest – Celtic cultures as ‘oppressed’ cultures; the Celtic Saints; the influence of Celtic cultures in the world.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Describe the key social, political and ecclesiastical institutions of the Celtic-speaking West in the early Middle Ages.
  2. Give an account of the medieval sources from which information on these institutions can be gleaned.
  3. Identify and discuss current scholarship on these institutions.
  4. Identify and discuss current scholarship on these institutions.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Early Irish Farming" by Fergus Kelly
    ISBN: 0790 4657.
    Publisher: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
  2. "Early Irish and Welsh Kinship" by T. M. Charles-Edwards
    ISBN: 0198201036.
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
  3. "Church Organisation in Ireland AD 650 to 1000" by Colmán Etchingham
    Publisher: Laigin Publications
  4. "Early Irish Kingship and Succession" by Bart Jaski
    ISBN: 185182488X.
    Publisher: Four Courts PressLtd
  5. "Early Christian Ireland" by T. M. Charles-Edwards
    ISBN: 0521363950.
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  6. "A New History of Ireland: Prehistoric and early Ireland" by Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (ed.)
    ISBN: 0198217374.
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
The above information outlines module SG514: "History, Scholarship & Culture in Medieval Ireland" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG515: Comparative Linguistics


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This course will introduce the methods and insights of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics. It will consider Old Irish in the context of these methods and insights and demonstrate thereby the Common Celtic and Indo-European background of Old Irish. It will be shown that the relationship between the reconstruction of the Indo-European proto-language and extant Old Irish is reciprocal, and that a proper understanding of the forms of Old Irish grammar have a major contribution to make towards our conception of the structure of Proto-Indo-European grammar.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Understand the relationships between Old Irish and other Indo-European languages.
  2. Understand the way Celtic forms a distinctive family of languages.
  3. Explain the prehistoric origins of the sound system of Old Irish.
  4. Explain how the grammar of the Old Irish verbal system developed from its prehistoric origins.
  5. Understand how the grammar of the Old Irish verbal system is related to those of other languages such as Latin, Greek and Sanskrit.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG515: "Comparative Linguistics" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG521: Literary History: Foundations and Early Writings


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module deals with the earliest phases of Irish writing, in Irish and Latin, but with the main emphasis on texts in Old Irish. Lecture themes include the earliest evidence for literacy (including ogam), the influence of Christianity and Christian writings, the implications of the transition from a primary oral culture to a literate one, the interpenetration of vernacular and Latin literature, bilingualism, schooling, the prosody of early medieval texts, the earliest extant texts in Irish, and the range of literary forms, including liturgical texts, legal texts, genealogies, origin legends, annals, hagiography, prose-tales and poetry.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Explain the impact of the introduction of literacy to Ireland, and the circumstances in which it occurred.
  2. Give a detailed account of the beginnings of Irish literary tradition, and the influences that shaped it.
  3. Show knowledge and appreciation of texts and written forms from the earliest centuries of Irish writing.
  4. Know how to access published and online resources for early medieval Irish literature.
  5. Produce well-written essays, making appropriate use of bibliographies and reference systems.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG521: "Literary History: Foundations and Early Writings" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG525: Readings in Medieval Irish (C): Poetry


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

This module involves close reading of Old and Middle Irish poetry and verse texts, with the aim of increasing the student's knowledge of language on the one hand, and of literature and poetics on the other. Set texts may vary from year to year (to facilitate postgraduates from other programmes who may wish to take the module more than once).
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read and translate verse texts in Old and Middle Irish.
  2. Show a good understanding of the grammar and syntax of the verse texts.
  3. Show a good understanding of the metrical and other formal aspects of the set texts.
  4. Show a good understanding of the relationship of the set texts to literary tradition.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG525: "Readings in Medieval Irish (C): Poetry" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG526: Readings in Medieval Irish (A): Prose Tales


Semester 1 | Credits: 5

This module involves close reading of sample Old (and/or) Middle Irish prose tales, with the aim of increasing the student's knowledge of language on the one hand, and of literature and poetics on the other.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read and translate (a) set text(s) in Old (and/or Middle) Irish.
  2. Show a good understanding of the grammar and syntax of the set text(s).
  3. Show a good understanding of the form and poetics of the set text(s).
  4. Show a good understanding of the relationship of the set text(s) to literary tradition.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG526: "Readings in Medieval Irish (A): Prose Tales" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG522: Literary History: A Tradition Established


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module concerns the development of medieval Irish literature in the period from the ninth to the twelfth century The main focus will be on narrative (in prose and verse). The following two major fields will be considered in detail: the development of the so-called Ulster Cycle (with particular emphasis on Táin Bó Cúailnge), and the development of the Fiannaigecht Cycle (with particular emphasis on Acallam na Seanórach). Genre, stylistics, authors, audience, patronage, performance, centres of learning, and the extant sources are among the topics for consideration.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Show a deep understanding of Táin Bó Cúailnge and its place in the Ulster Cycle.
  2. Show a deep understanding of Acallam na Senórach and its place in the Fíannaigecht Cycle.
  3. Discuss the comparative value of important critical approaches to medieval Irish narrative texts.
  4. Know how to access the key published and online resources for medieval Irish literature.
  5. Produce well-written essays, making appropriate use of bibliographies and reference systems.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG522: "Literary History: A Tradition Established" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG524: Readings in Medieval Irish (D): Allegory and Mythology


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This module involves close reading of (an) Old Irish allegorical or mythological tale(s), with the aim of increasing the student's knowledge of language on the one hand, and of literature on the other.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read and translate (a) set text(s) in Old (and/or Middle) Irish.
  2. Show a good understanding of the grammar and syntax of the set text(s).
  3. Show a good understanding of the form and poetics of the set text(s).
  4. Show a good understanding of the relationship of the set text(s) to literary tradition
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG524: "Readings in Medieval Irish (D): Allegory and Mythology" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional SG523: Readings in Medieval Irish (B): Law Texts


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This module involves close reading of (an) Old Irish law tract(s), with the aim of increasing the student's knowledge of language on the one hand, and of legal materials and institutions on the other. Set texts may vary from year to year (to facilitate postgraduates who may wish to return to take the module more than once).
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read and translate (a) set text9s) in Old (and/or Middle) Irish.
  2. Show a good understanding of the grammar and syntax of the set text(s).
  3. Show a good understanding of the form and poetics of the set text(s).
  4. Show a good understanding of the relationship of the set text(s) to literary tradition.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module SG523: "Readings in Medieval Irish (B): Law Texts" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates have found employment in teaching and academic research, publishing and the print and electronic media, and have developed careers in the interpretation and management of culture and heritage. The programme provides an excellent foundation for higher research programmes (MLitt and PhD) in many fields of Irish language and Celtic Studies of the medieval, the early modern and the contemporary period. The skills acquired are also highly relevant for research in medieval Irish history and archaeology.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

 

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,600 p.a. FT; €3,355 p.a. PT 2020/21

Fees: Tuition

€6,376 p.a. FT; €3,187 p.a. PT 2020/21

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. FT; €168 p.a. PT 2020/21

Fees: Non EU

€15,550 p.a. 2020/21

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.


What Our Students Say

Laura

Laura Álvarez García |    

I became interested in Old Irish while a student of Classical Philology at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and after finishing my degree I knew I wanted to pursue my studies in Ireland. NUIG was among my first options, and choosing it has proved to be a great decision. The MA programme allows for very fast progress and keeps the student excited with continuous challenges. The learning of grammar is combined with close reading of medieval Irish texts in the original, and the picture is completed with modules on literary history and comparative Celtic linguistics. The staff are always giving their best. Their high professionalism and attentiveness are highly motivating for the student. Their close interaction with other departments further enrich the learning environment. The friendliness of the other postgraduates, their willingness to exchange ideas and their interesting research projects also contribute to a completely fulfilling experience.
Christine

Christine Neer |    

My academic interest in medieval Irish manuscript materials began almost a decade ago. An MA on modern Irish women nationalist writers which I completed in 2008 is what inspired me to study the Irish language. Unfortunately, few universities in the USA offer early-Irish language courses. After teaching for several years, I was thrilled to be offered a place on NUIG’s Old and Middle Irish MA program. Spending a year with Old Irish was intense, but also intensely rewarding: I am part of an energetic and supportive group of scholars here, and I also feel equipped to research and translate the primary sources I am now studying for my PhD in Old and Middle Irish.

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Downloads

  • Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2021

    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2021 PDF (11.3MB)