Irish Studies

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Program Overview

An opportunity to learn about the intriguing history, politics, literature, and art of Ireland is available to you through a minor in Irish studies at Fairfield. You can focus on the:

  • Troubled history of the nation and its colonial and postcolonial significance
  • Difficult politics of Northern Ireland
  • Inspired art and literature that emerged from its turbulent past

‌The Irish Studies Program explores various aspects of a culture which has produced the oldest vernacular literature in Europe, a rich tradition of Celtic art, and a devotion to scholarship which perhaps was crucial in saving Western civilization. As a nation, Ireland has had a long, turbulent and fascinating history. In the last century, Ireland has changed from a conservative, agricultural country to a modern, technologically aware one, from a colony of Great Britain to a free, democratic republic, and from one of the poorest nations in the world to a vital economy in the European Union.

Irish Studies | Fairfield University

Enthusiasm for this area of study has surged in the last three decades as the Irish people have sought to resolve long-standing political issues and taken an interesting role in the new global economy. Fairfield, with a significant Irish-American representation among its students and alumni, provides a welcoming environment for Irish studies. The University hosts a number of lectures, concerts, plays, and readings that complement the academic program and has established a study abroad affiliation with the National University of Ireland, Galway. 

Irish Studies at Fairfield affords you the opportunity to investigate the contributions of Ireland to the world in terms of its literature, history, politics, film, and art. Affiliated with the National University of Ireland, Galway, the Irish Studies program, through study abroad, also allows you to take Irish-focused courses in archeology, economics, sociology, linguistics, and the Irish language, as well as focused internships. Indeed, the Irish Studies minor helps students expand their career opportunities in one of the most booming cultural and tech economies in Western Europe.

Learning Objectives

Students with a minor in Irish Studies are able to:

  • Express, orally and in writing, the significant connections between Irish literature, history, politics, and art
  • Articulate the complexity of another culture (social, political, religious, economic) using the example of Ireland
  • Explain clearly and in depth the social, political, and religious problems that confronted and still do confront Irish people, including the role of literary and artistic production in the country’s troubled history


For a 15-credit minor in Irish Studies, students:

Complete five three-credit courses including one of the following:

  • EN 161: Irish Literature, HI 215: History of Ireland, Middle Ages to the Present, or HI 315: Irish History from the Famine to the Present.
  • Those who choose EN 161 may take up to two additional English courses and must take the remaining two courses in different fields.
  • Those choosing HI 215 or HI 315 may take up to three additional courses in English, with the remaining course in a field other than English or history.
  • Notes: Subject to the Irish Studies Program Director's approval, students may apply up to 9 credit hours taken while studying abroad in Ireland during the fall or spring semesters toward the minor's requirements. English credits earned (as EN 369) during Fairfield University's two-week Galway Summer Experience at the National University of Ireland, Galway may be counted as EN 161.

While studying abroad is not required for completion of the Irish studies minor, students are encouraged to do so.

Course Offerings

cas_is_castle2_10For course descriptions, visit our online catalog.

Courses are organized by Department, i.e.: visit 'Art History' for Irish Studies-themed courses listed below. 

  • AH 121: Celtic and Early Irish Art
  • AH 221: Art of Ireland and the British Isles 500-1000
  • CE Introduction to Irish Language and Culture I (non-credit)* (Earn a certificate in Irish through this continuing Eduation course)
  • EN 142: Myths and Legends of Ireland and Britain
  • EN 161: Irish Literature
  • EN 162: Irish Women Writers
  • EN 252: Topics in Modern and Contemporary Irish Literature
  • EN 319: James Joyce's Ulysses
  • HI 215: Ireland from the Middle Ages to the Present
  • HI 315: Irish History Since the Famine
  • IRI 110/111: Introduction to the Irish Language
  • PO 257: Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace



‌Fairfield students have abundant opportunities for internships with corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Given the large Irish population of New York City and the northeast, there is an abundance of Irish cultural, political, and historical/archival organizations in the area. The program will work with students to inform them of potential internship opportunities in these organizations and to secure course credit for those internships. ‌

Life After Fairfield

irish_arms10Your career path is likely to be governed by your choice of a major, but the minor in Irish studies adds an interesting dimension to your qualifications for graduate study or future employment. Graduates of the Irish studies program find that their studies enhance all kinds of careers, especially those which demand international awareness and cultural diplomacy. Ireland is a rising economy in the European Union, offers no language barrier for native English speakers, and is only a short flight away. Knowing about Ireland’s rich and complex history and culture gives students a decided edge in seeking employment, fellowships, or further academic degrees in the country. Some recent graduates of Fairfield’s Irish Studies program have earned Fulbright fellowships in Ireland, pursued graduate degrees at leading Irish Universities, and earned internships at Irish political and cultural organizations in New York City.

Learn about how Fairfield's Career Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.


Irish Studies Field Trip

Fall 2016 Irish Studies Field Trip

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University
Lead by Dr. William Abbott and Prof. Marion White


Brexit: The Irish and European Perspectives


An insightful lecture presented by Deputy Consul General of Ireland Eimear Friel on the U.K.'s complicated withdrawal from the European Union.


The "Irish in Film" Series: Fall 2019

All films will be presented at 7 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library multimedia room. Admission is free and open to the public. 

Wednesday, October 9

"Brooklyn” (2016) 
Based on Colm Toibin’s best-selling novel, this Academy Award-nominated film directed by Jack Crowley stars Saoirse Roan as Eilis Lacey, a young, intelligent immigrant who makes a new life for herself in 1950s Brooklyn with the help of an Irish-American priest from home (Jim Broadbent). The film addresses both the gains and losses of women’s emigration in post-World War II America and will be introduced by Nels Pearson, PhD, professor of English and director of the Humanities.

Wednesday, October 16

“No Stone Unturned” (2017)
Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s 2017 documentary investigates the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, an unsolved case in which masked members of an anti-IRA loyalist paramilitary group murdered six Catholic civilians in a Northern Ireland pub during a World Cup soccer game. The film’s presentation is made possible by the Irish Film Institute, Dublin, Ireland, and will be introduced by Kevin Cassidy, PhD, professor of politics. 

Wednesday, October 23

“Greta” (2018)
Irish director Neil Jordan’s 2018 psychological thriller stars Chole Grace Moretz as Francine, a naïve college graduate who finds a handbag on the subway and returns it to its owner, an eccentric French piano teacher named Greta. Having recently lost her mother, Frances strikes up a seemingly harmless friendship with the lonely widow, but when Greta's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and obsessive, Frances does whatever it takes to end the toxic relationship before it spirals out of control. Despite its scary moments, the film can be seen as an adult fairy tale with Greta as the wicked witch and Frances, the innocent orphan who walks into a trap. English professor, Robert Epstein, PhD, who teaches “Myths and Legends of Ireland and Britain” will introduce the film.

Wednesday, October 30

“Black '47” (2018)
Directed by Lance Daly and produced with the help of the Irish Film Board, this historical drama is set in Ireland during the Great Famine and stars James Frecheville as Feeney, an Irish mercenary fighting for the British army, who abandons his post to seek revenge on those responsible for the death of his family. Professor of History and Irish Studies Co-Director William Abbott, PhD will introduce the film.


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