Snapshots of Ireland

From the ancient to the modern, this eclectic range of specialist topics highlights aspects of Ireland and the Irish across religion and politics, art and design, housing and heraldry, saints and sinners, church and monasticism, society and geography. Each session snapshots key periods, personalities, trends and events, relying on original documents to a high degree. Slides and other media offer windows onto Irish history, society and art.


  • Face-to-Face


  • Book of Kells - Work of Angels: Quintessentially Irish artifact, this decorated copy of the gospels probably comes from Scottish Iona around 795–805 AD. The pages were rescued from a bog, dumped there by medieval thieves after stealing its richly-ornamented bindings. A close look at this and related Irish Illuminated Manuscripts reveals their contents, scope and origins, and the techniques by which they were produced.
  • Celtic Revival Chapels: Two early twentieth-century chapels, one in Dublin, the other in Cork, testify to the strength and diversity of the Irish Revival. Honan Chapel’s team of artists worked to contracts in all media and the best materials. Sister Mary Concepta Keefe OP spent every spare hour on her gem, an act of faith in religion and in her own Celtic Revival heritage, and got her paints from the local hardware store. Both took their templates from the Book of Kells.
  • Early Irish Monasteries: The austere ascetic of monastic life has a venerable place in Irish society and European learning. It was (nearly) as tumultuous in Irish Celtic culture as it was vital to continental civilisation from 500 to 1000 AD. Trace the origins, spirit, rituals and innovations of Irish monasteries and their monks.
  • Muiredeach’s Cross - Medieval masterpiece: Irish High Crosses constitute a unique national contribution to both religion and art. Finest among many fine examples, Muiredeach’s Cross dates from 922 AD and stands where it was originally erected, in the grounds of the Hibernian monastery of Monasterboice in the Boyne Valley.
  • Castle or House? Dwelling-places in Medieval Ireland: Celtic society inhabited ‘ringforts’ for 1,000 years before Normans brought their castle architecture. The Irish turned it into their ‘tower house’. As late as the 1600s, these domestic structures retained their defensive purpose as the bawn or fortified house.
  • Irish Georgian Architecture - Palladio nella Hibernia: Palladio’s High Renaissance ideal of perfect buildings burst on Ireland at Castletown Conolly c1720. This house set the ‘Georgian’ pattern for many more over the next century, from Wicklow’s Russborough c1740 to Washington’s White House.
  • Heraldry in Ireland: Normans brought armorial distinctions to Ireland, Gaelic chiefs took to it with gusto, Anglo-Irish officials made a science of it, and modern tourism has made ashtrays with it. For sheer variety and relative simplicity, Irish arms (with their mottoes and crests) constitute a common code and culture among Irish rulers.
  • The Shannon - Sacred River: ‘Erin’s ancient highway’ reflects history, culture, poetry and a people. Trickle in Leitrim, unstoppable mass at Limerick, the Shannon flows down the centre of the island before discharging into the Atlantic. A barrier and a border, entry and exit for traders and migrants, it widens into loughs, runs parallel to canals, powers hydro-electric plants and waterwheels. Castles tower over it, monasteries shelter along it, a host of flora and fauna inhabit its reaches.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast periods and trends in social, cultural and political development over 1,000 years.
  2. Discover different places and different media for similarities and differences of style and purpose.
  3. Explore beliefs and impulses in European religion and ethnicity over a millennium.
$232 Limited / $209

<p>From the ancient to the modern, this eclectic range of specialist topics highlights aspects of Ireland and the Irish across religion and politics, art and design, housing and heraldry, saints and

16 Jul

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