M.A. in Critical Irish Studies @ University of Limerick, Ireland

University of Limerick

University of Limerick

ULs new interdisciplinary M.A. offers you personal attention by world-class researchers, in Irelands most beautiful campus in a stunningly scenic region and in a place where the rest of Ireland, the rest of Europe and the larger world are at your doorstep.


Every Wednesday at lunchtime a group of musicians meets to play traditional Irish music in a room overlooking the River Shannon in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.  An eclectic group of students, faculty, administrators and others sit for an hour playing tunes from Counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary on fiddles, banjos, mandolins, Uilleann pipes, accordians, tin whistles, and bodhráns. Across campus, Bartek Glowacki, the Bernal Professor of Energy works on research involving wind generation. His international team of cutting-edge researchers takes advantage of the Shannon Region where Ireland’s first power station was built soon after the formation of the new state in the 1930s, and where the largest coal power station in Ireland still stands. Earlier that morning the Irish language coffee group met in one of the university cafés to chat in Europe’s oldest vernacular language, near posters from the latest conference analysing the role of social media in contemporary society. Meanwhile, groups of international tourists walk through the thirteenth-century King John’s Castle in Limerick city. Over their heads, flight paths from planes from Shannon airport bring new immigrants from around the globe to Ireland’s oldest city and send Irish travelers around the world.

This snapshot of one day at the University of Limerick can be a symbol for what the new MA in Critical Irish Studies will do, and why it is needed. The long history of the island is tangled in economic, political, and cultural issues that have long linked it with the world, and contemporary Ireland finds itself in the midst of great changes that need to be understood and addressed. This innovative one-year MA brings together faculty across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences to engage with questions related to the complex space that is Ireland.  Excitingly interdisciplinary, the MA draws on faculty research specialisms in areas such as migration, diaspora and multiculturalism, gender, literature and language, performance studies, and contemporary popular culture. Students and faculty work together in small groups, punctuated by visiting lecturers and events, on research that matters in this hauntingly beautiful, vibrant and complex island.


Each year students take core interdisciplinary modules, work together on a practicum whereby they get hands-on experience of a group project and choose electives from a range of modules in three streams (Humanities, Social Science, and Performance). Conversations and analyses often focus on the set of ‘emblems’that can be studied from a variety of disciplinary approaches: in 2014–2015, these emblems are a poppy, a pint of Guinness, and the tragic case of the teenager Anne Lovett. The poppy hearkens back to 1914, when Irish men and women faced the devastating effects of WWI; a field trip to Belfast for Remembrance Day will bring questions of loyalty and crisis into sharp focus.  A pint of Guinness enables discussions of a global brand as well as a symbol for Irish conviviality, social institutions like the pub and also alcoholism. In 1984, Anne Lovett’s death in childbirth beside a roadside grotto scandalised Irish society and propelled people to confront issues of sexuality, gender and religion.


In summer, students write a thesis with a member of faculty in an area of the student’s own interest, in fields including Anglo-Irish and Irish-American literature, Irish language and literature, German-Irish studies, the study of gender and sexualities, migration, film and new media, urban history, Irish-American relations, Irish and world music, the history of dance, Irish politics and public policy, development, health and poverty.


If you are looking for personal attention by world-class researchers, in Ireland’s most beautiful campus in a stunningly scenic region and in a place where the rest of Ireland, the rest of Europe and the larger world are at your doorstep—and if you are someone ready for learning ‘outside the box’of a single discipline or method—this MA may be for you. To learn more get in touch with the Course Director Emma Nic Cárthaigh, emma.niccharthaigh@ul.ie.


Margaret Mills Harper

Glucksman Professor in Contemporary Writing in English

University of Limerick

Meg Harper, Glucksman Professor in Contemporary Writing in English @ University of Limerick

Meg Harper, Glucksman Professor in Contemporary Writing in English @ University of Limerick



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