Week 1: Land and People
Physical features and major cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Belfast). Population. Religion: the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church. Religious controversies, sectarianism and contemporary debates.
Week 2: Languages
Celtic languages: distribution, characteristics. Gaelic / Irish: type of language, origin and history, characteristics. The current status of Irish: factors for / against the survival of the Irish language. Irish English: denominations, varieties and pronunciation patterns. Hiberno-English.
Week 3 and 4: History
The Celts and their spirituality: way of life, religion, calendar and feats. Gaelic Irish society: the Brehon Law. Christianisation of the Gaels: St. Patrick and his significance. Monasticism and the golden age of Irish culture. The Vikings and the Anglo-Normans and the beginning of the co-habitation of the English with the Irish. The Plantation of Ireland. Cromwell. The Penal Laws. Daniel O’ Connell and the Catholic Association. The Act of Union. The Great Famine: causes, manifestations and effects. Charles Stuart Parnell and the Home Rule Association. The Easter Rising. The making of the Irish Republic and of modern Ireland.
Week 5: The Irish State
Name, symbols and national day. Constitution and establishment: the Constitution, the President, the Irish Parliament: the Oireachtas, the Government: Civil Service. Party policy in Ireland: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties. Parties in Northern Ireland.
Week 6 and 7: Northern Ireland
Sectarianism and the Troubles. The IRA and the loyalist paramilitary organisations (UDA, UFF, UVF). Main events in the Northern Ireland crisis and their significance. Northern Ireland on the road to peace: The Belfast Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Government and status of Northern Ireland. Situation today.
Week 8: Education
First-level and secondary-level schools. Schools in Northern Ireland. Universities in the Republic: the NUI, Trinity College of Dublin. Universities in Northern Ireland: Queen’s University of Belfast and the University of Ulster.
Week 9: Irish Life
Radio and television. The press. Eating habits. The pub as institution. Traditional Irish music and instruments. The Irish today: way of life and spirituality.
Week 10: Heritage and tradition
The significance of tradition in Irish culture. The Irish farm. The bally and clachan. The Irish home. The hearth. Fairs and gatherings. Patterns. Fixed festivals. Weddings and wakes.
Week 11 and 12: Irish Storytelling, Myths and Sagas
The cycles of tales. The Mythological Cycle: the Tuatha De Danaan. The Ulster Cycle: The Táin. Cu Chulainn and Macha as prototypes of hero. The Fenian Cycle: Fionn Mac Cool and Oisín. The theme of the Underworld. The echtra and imram types of story. The Historical Cycle and the theme of buile: Buile Shuibhne.
Weeks 13 and 14