The Catholic University of America

Courses in Irish Studies

Any undergraduate student may enroll in Irish studies courses. To successfully complete the certificate program, however, a student must pass a total of 8 courses. Of these, 4 are required and 4 are electives.
Required Courses (4 total)
Language (2)
IRSH 101: Introduction to Irish Language & Culture I
Irish 101 is a foundational course for the Certificate in Irish Studies at CUA. This course provides students with a general introduction to both the Irish language and to aspects of traditional and contemporary Irish culture.  Students learn the fundamentals of the Irish language, primarily covering topics which enable them to talk about themselves; where they come from and live, their family and friends, and their hobbies and interests. Students are introduced to basic grammatical structures and in the first semester focus on oral communication in the present tense.
IRSH 102: Introduction to Irish Language & Culture II
Students build upon the fundamentals of the Irish language acquired in the first semester and cover a range of themes pertinent to their everyday lives. They learn to use more complex grammatical and syntactic structures, developing their command of Irish in four essential areas of language learning: oral, aural, in reading and in writing.  Topics of both a traditional and contemporary nature are explored through a variety of media including simple poetry and rhyme, music and song, as well as storytelling and film. Among the cultural topics explored are: the meaning of place-names, a selection of ancient Irish myths and legends, as well as the stories of Irish saints. In addition to this, students learn about the role and place of the Irish language in Ireland, its use in the Gaeltachtaí (Irish speaking regions of Ireland), as well as its growing popularity in urban centers today.  
Gateway Classes (2)
IRSH 360/ENG 360: Modern Irish Literature, 1798–1998
This class provides a survey of Irish novels, drama, poetry and political tracts composed over the last two centuries, the time during which both the Republic of Ireland and the power-sharing government of the North emerged. Students examine the connection between nationhood, linguistic identity and style in modern Irish literature, beginning with the Rebellion of 1798 and ending with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Authors may include but are not limited to Maria Edgeworth, Wolfe Tone, James Clarence Mangan, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Samuel Beckett and Paul Muldoon.
One of the Following Courses:
IRSH 225A/HIST 225A: History of Ireland to 1607
Ireland has been invaded repeatedly throughout its history. Each wave of new arrivals has caused a renegotiation of what it means to be "Irish." This course will engage directly with that question by surveying Irish society and culture from pre-Christian times down to the end of the old Gaelic order in 1607. We will glance at Irish prehistory and then examine "Celtic" society-- its social structure, laws and literature. Next, we will trace the impact of the Christianization of Ireland on this society. We will look at the effect on Ireland of invasions by the Vikings and the Normans, and the establishments of English rule in Ireland. We will then study the varying fortunes of the competing groups in Irish society (Gaelic Irish and Anglo-Irish), analyze the advent of the Reformation in Ireland, and examine the final conquest of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth I and the passing of the old order.
IRSH 225B/HIST 225B: Modern Irish History
This course focuses on the Ireland's economic and political transition from the end of the Gaelic era to the present. Students trace the transformation of Ireland’s economic and social order, examining the population explosion of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, and then the subsequent catastrophe of the Great Famine. The emergence of a pastoral agricultural economy in the post-Famine era is discussed as well asrecent developments in the post-industrial economy of the late twentieth century. The course also tracks dominant trends of political change in Ireland from the wars of the seventeenth century, to the rise of popular politics and the eruption of republicanism in the 1790s, to the emergence of nationalism and unionism throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Finally, students consider the Irish War of Independence and analyze its impact on the subsequent politics of the Free State, the Republic and the complex status of Northern Ireland in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Throughout the course, special attention is paid to the importance of regional and local differences in the modern Irish experience, not just between the north and south but also between east and west.
IRSH 380/HIST 380: The Irish in America
This course addresses the history of the Irish in the United States as a case study in the history of American immigrants and ethnicity. Examines how Irish American definitions of identity, cultural practices and beliefs, and even group boundaries changed over time, and how Irish American experiences varied in different regions of the country. Traces the story from the seventeenth century to the 1960s and 1970s, but focuses most heavily on the period since the Famine migration in the 1840s and 1850s. Addresses such topics as Irish American Catholicism, nationalism, family and gender roles, and politics.
Elective Courses (4 total)
IRSH 103: Intermediate Irish Language & Culture I
This course aims to build the necessary confidence and language skills to communicate in Irish in everyday situations.  The emphasis is on developing speaking and listening skills, while also providing students with the opportunity to read and write the language.  At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to talk about everyday life in the past, present and future tenses. They will have a greater understanding of the dialects of the Irish language, as well as various aspects of grammar.  Students will improve their accuracy and fluency, as well as building upon existing vocabulary.  Students will also add to their reading and writing skills. 
IRSH 104: Intermediate Irish Language & Culture II
Students further develop their communication abilities by discussing and writing about various topics drawn from a variety of sources including literature and film. Students will work on the expansion of vocabulary and the integration and refinement of grammar.
IRSH 138/MUS 138: Folk Instruments of the World
IRSH 305/DR 305: The Irish on the Stage and Screen

HIST 330A: The Celtic World: People and Mythology
This course will examine the history, literature, art, and archeology of the people known as the Celts. We will look at the evidence for and against the concept of a “Celtic” civilization in classical times, and we will trace the distinctive history of the so-called “Celtic Fringe” in the British Isles: Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. We will also study the rediscovery (or invention) of the Celts in modern times, focusing on the Gaelic Revival in Ireland and recent nationalist movements in Scotland, Wales, Brittany, and Galicia. Throughout, we will analyze the fascinating relationship between the “facts” of the historical record and the cultural and political impact of the concept of the “Celt.”
IRSH 368/ENG 368: Seamus Heaney & His Contexts
This course offers a critical examination of the poetry, prose and historical place of Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), a writer once boldly described as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats." Students study Heaney's emergence in the so-called 'Belfast Group' of the 1960s and explore his nascent critical legacy, the broad impact his life and work have exerted on the contemporary reception of Irish poetry across the Anglophone world.
IRSH 402/ENG 402: English Poetry & World War
This class explores the complex relationship between collective memory, literary style, and the conditions of modern warfare endured throughout World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945). Readings may include but are not limited to the work of Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, Francis Ledwidge, Ezra Pound, Sidney Keyes, Louis MacNeice and Randall Jarrell.
IRSH 405/ENG 405: Yeats, Eliot & Pound
In this course students examine a large selection of the poetry and critical prose of three major twentieth-century writers: W. B. Yeats (1865–1939), Ezra Pound (1885–1972) and T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). The selection of poetry covers the period between 1889–1969, the time during which time Irish and Anglo-American modernism emerged in the English-speaking world. Students consider the diverse ways in which the development of modernist style was, in part, impacted by the historical crises of early twentieth-century Europe. Readings will include but are not limited to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Responsibilities, Homage to Sextus Propertius, The Waste Land, The Tower, Four Quartets and The Pisan Cantos.
IRSH 540/HIST 540: Famine Irish Immigrants & Their Children
A course focusing on those Irish immigrants who fled their homeland's famine in the late 1840s and on their children, who grew to maturity at the turn of the twentieth century. A case study in American immigration and ethnic group history. Participants will read from all the major secondary sources on topics such as family history and family memory; the background of Famine Irish society; the Famine and its aftermath in Ireland, the processes of migration; the theory of ethnic group evolution in America; Irish participation in the American economy; Irish American neighborhoods; Irish American families; the civic, religious and leisure lives of Famine immigrants and their children; and Irish Americans and other immigrant groups. Participants will also learn how to use primary sources in Ireland and the United States to reconstruct histories of Irish and Irish American families and communities in the nineteenth century.
IRSH 573/ENG 573: Irish Drama of the 17th & 18th Century
A study of plays by the Old English, the New English, Irish Catholics, and the Anglo-Irish, examining the cultural conflicts of Ireland from 1639-1798.
IRSH 576/DR 576: From Shakespeare to Sheridan, the Irish in the Theatre, 1600-1775
IRSH 587/ENG 587: Modern Irish Drama

A study of works by major Irish playwrights since the turn of the century.
*Please note this list of electives is not exhaustive.*