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Irish 3: An Introduction to Old Irish

Course 2011-2012

Admission requirements

None. Basic knowledge of syntactic and phonetic terminology is assumed.


Old Irish was the language spoken and written in Ireland in the period 600-900 BCE. It is a rather complex but extremely fascinating language, which differs in some respects from other Indo-European languages, and in which, besides historical and legal text and stories about heroes and mythological characters, a multitude of both religious and secular lyrics hasaa been transmitted. In this course students will make the acquaintance of the basic syntax and phonology of Old Irish, which will be illustrated by means of lyrical texts. The course may be attended and rounded off independently, but is also meant as a preparation for the advanced second-semester course on Old Irish Prose. The course may also serve as a minor for students in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics.

Course objectives

This course will enable students to acquire basic knowledge of as well as insight into Old Irish syntax and phonetics, as well as some knowledge about Old Irish literary history.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

A weekly three-hour seminar on Thursdays from 10-13 hrs

Assessment method

Oral contribution to the seminar and a written translation test will count for 50% each towards the final mark.


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

W. Tigges & F. Ó Béarra, An Old Irish Primer, Nijmegen: De Keltische Draak, 2006 (obligatory)
Antony Green, Old Irish Verbs and Vocabulary, Somerville, 1995 (recommended)


Students should register through uSis. Exchange studentens cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Studentcounsellor Bachelor: Ms. S.H.J. Bollen, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103B.
Coordinator of Studies Master: Ms. K. van der Zeeuw-Filemon, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.