Early Irish is to be reintroduced as a degree subject following pressure from academic staff in the UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Folklore and Linguistics. The course will be available from the 2010-11 academic year as ‘Celtic Civilisation (incorporating Early Irish)’.
The academic pressure followed controversy over the cancellation of the course in previous years, with only a small number of modules in the subject offered.Enrolment in the course will be open to all incoming first year undergraduate students applying for the BA (Omnibus) course for entry next September.
Under the course descriptions in UCD’s prospectus for next year, the course is described as “a programme providing a comprehensive survey of the Celtic peoples that will enable [students] to understand and appreciate Celtic literary, intellectual and artistic achievements.” The course will be made available as both a major or minor subject stream.
Subjects offered in the programme will include Early Irish and Breton as well as medieval and modern Welsh. History, literature, language and myth will all be components of the course.
The course had previously been cancelled in the 2005-06 academic year as a cost-cutting measure. Single modules of the language were reintroduced in 2007, but academics in the discipline continued to argue the importance of a full programme in the subject. At the time the degree course was cancelled, one senior lecturer in Early Irish, Dr Patricia Kelly, said that “there is an obligation on an Irish university funded by the Irish people … to maintain adequate training for research on the earliest written records of the Irish people.” There had been concerns that insufficient training in Early Irish would render edifices of ancient Irish literature incomprehensible.
Early Irish incorporates learning the language of Early Irish, as well as studying literature from the period. Celtic languages are linguistically recognised as being the most complex languages in the world to learn.