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Early Irish (TSM)

Early Irish provides students with a training in the critical study of the language, literature and culture of Ireland and Gaelic Scotland from the earliest period from which records are extant down to the twelfth century. A wide range of texts and authors is studied and students are introduced to the basic skills of linguistic and literary analysis as well as to the elements of social history, palaeography, folklore and comparative philology. The study of Early Irish includes a study of the Celtic and Indo-European relationships of the Irish language and, in the Sophister years, provides a course in Modern and Middle Welsh, subject to availability of staff.

Students may also spend a semester studying Early Irish abroad in one of our partner universities.

In their Senior Sophister year students continue their studies in either Early or Modern Irish alone. The specific aim of the Senior Sophister year is to allow the students to focus on their preferred subject. In particular the dissertation (c. 10,000 words), written under the supervision of a member of the departmental staff, provides an opportunity for the student to investigate any aspect of the subject that they choose, and to develop their scholarly skills.


Junior Freshman Year

  • Old Irish Grammar
  • Old Irish Prose
  • The Sources of Early Irish Literature
  • Introduction to Early Irish Sagas

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Senior Freshman Year

  • Early Irish Prose
  • Old Irish Glosses and Verse
  • Early Irish Sagas
  • Introduction to Old Irish II
  • Early Irish Poetry

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Junior / Senior Sophister Years

  • History of the Language A (Ogam and Primitive Irish)
  • History of the Language B (Comparative phonology and morphology)
  • Middle Irish Language
  • Middle Irish Texts
  • Early Irish Law
  • Early Irish Poetry
  • Ecclesiastical Prose
  • Secular Narrative
  • Palaeography

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