Early Irish Studies

This MA enables students to explore and examine the rich tradition of early Irish literature and intellectual culture, from the early medieval period and the advent of Christianity until the coming of the Normans at the end of the 12th century. It also enables students to deepen their acquaintance with the language of the period, and to endow them with a set of research skills appropriate to work in this field.

Entry requirements

A 2.1 in Medieval Irish and Celtic Studies in the BA or an equivalent qualification.

An interview will be part of the selection process.

Applicants must have a recognised primary degree which is considered equivalent to Irish university primary degree level.

Minimum English language requirements: please visit Maynooth University International Office website for information about English language tests accepted and required scores. The requirements specified are applicable for both EU and non-EU applicants.

Maynooth University's TOEFL code is 8850


MHX52 1 year Full-time

Careers or further progression

Successful completion of the Masters programme will equip the student for library work, various types of adult education, and employment in the heritage and related industries. Successful completion of the programme at a high level, with an appropriate degree of competence of Old and Middle Irish, will normally equip students to proceed to study for a PhD, a necessary qualification for an academic career.

Further enquiries

Contact us about this course

Programme Director

Prof David Stifter

Tel: +353 (0)1 708 3710

Email: david.stifter@nuim.ie

Website: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/early-irish-sean-ghaeilge

Address: Department of Early Irish,

School of Celtic Studies,

Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare

Subjects taught

This programme comprises two parts: taught modules (compulsory and elective modules) [60 credits] and a minor thesis [30 credits] [90 credits in total].

The compulsory taught modules focus on medieval Irish literature (20 credits), palaeography and manuscript studies (10 credits), and general research skills and methodology (10 credits).

The choice of the elective modules depends on the students' level of knowledge of the Old Irish language. Students with a previous knowledge of Old Irish will do Old Irish reading modules that focus on the philology, translation and analysis of Early Irish literature (20 credits). Students with no or insufficient previous knowledge of the language will be required to attend a suite of intensive introductory language modules (20 credits).

The minor thesis amounts to approximately 15,000 words (30 credits) on a topic approved by the Head of Department, under the supervision of a designated supervisor. The topic is agreed by the end of the first semester, and the work is begun during the period between the first and the second semester. The thesis is submitted by a specific date at the end of the academic year, typically either in July or October.


School of Celtic Studies

Early Irish/Roinn na Sean-Ghaeilge

The Department of Early Irish/Roinn na Sean-Ghaeilge at Maynooth is a leading centre for the study of Medieval Irish and Celtic Studies, engaging in teaching and research in the literature, language, history and culture of medieval Ireland and of the related Celtic-speaking world.Prof. David Stifter is a 2015 recipient of a European Research Council research award and a leading expert in Celtic historical linguistics. He was the editor of an interactive dictionary of Lepontic and Cisalpine Gaulish, Celtic languages spoken in ancient northern Italy. He has also co-edited several books on Celtic and Indo-European linguistics, among them the four-volume collection. Dr. Elizabeth Boyle is a leading international scholar in the religious and intellectual culture of medieval Ireland and Britain.

Application date

All applications should be made through the PAC system.

Closing Date : 30 June 2019

Course fee

In general, there are two levels of fees payable. EU students from EU countries including Ireland pay a subsidised level of fees for both taught courses and research programmes. Tuition fees for students from outside the EU are not subsidised and are thus somewhat higher than for EU students.

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!