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Introduction to Old Irish


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 serve as an elective 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.


Linguistics bachelor

Mode of instruction

Three-hour seminar

Course Load

Total course load: 5 EC x 28 = 140 hours.

  • Seminars: 3-hour seminars x 13 = 39 hours.

  • Preparation tutorials: on average 6 hours p.w. x 13 = 78 hours.

  • Preparation exam: 20 hours.

  • Exam: 2.5 hours

Assessment method

  • Oral contribution to seminar.

  • Written translation test, with open questions on Old Irish syntax and phonology..


Each component counts for 50 % against the final mark.


Resit of insufficient parts if the average final mark is insufficient. If necessary, insufficient participation in the seminars may be partly or wholly compensated by an oral examination.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will not be used.

Reading list

  • W. Tigges & F. Ó Béarra, An Old Irish Primer, Nijmegen: De Keltische Draak, 2006.

  • Antony Green, Old Irish Verbs and Vocabulary, Somerville, 1995.
    Both books are to be ordered directly from the publishers.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students other than BA English language and culture studies or BA Linguistics need permission from the Coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Dr. W. Tigges

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk


This course can not be upgraded to MA level. Minimal number of participants: 6, maximum 15. This course will not be offered if there is not enough interest. When there are more than 15 students, students of the BA Linguistics have priority.