CCIV20130 Kings and Heroes of Early Ireland

Academic Year 2022/2023

Students will need a laptop and Wifi connection to participate fully in this module.

The Ulster Cycle tales are among the best-known narratives of Early Irish literature (c. 700-1200 AD). The tales depict the heroic society of pagan Ireland and the rivalry for supremacy between Ulster and Connacht. We will study, in translation, not just the centre-piece of the cycle (The 'Táin' or 'Cattle Raid of Cooley'), but also other major and minor tales, which offer an introduction to the wide variety of themes, genres, and literary styles of one branch of this uniquely early literature.

Among the most attractive and accessible of the Early Irish tales are those dealing with the lives of legendary or early historical kings and heroes, such as Cormac mac Airt, about whom many tales have survived. We will read these sagas in translation, to discover how legendary and historical kings are presented as admirable or otherwise, what the desirable characteristics of an ideal king were, and how the demands of kingship were reconciled with the king's human needs. More generally we consider what were the pressing concerns of the social and political ruling elites of Early Ireland, and how how they were encoded and explored in a memorable literature.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to

1. Show familiarity with the plots of the tales studied
2. Analyze specific themes of the tales chosen
3. Address the paradox of narratives of pagan times written for a Christian audience
4. Appreciate the literary skills of the authors
5. Draw on the secondary literature assigned

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Learning will take the form of structured lectures supported by online resources. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Essay 2 Week 11 n/a Graded No


Essay: Essay 1 Week 5 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will be given written feedback on completion of assessments.

Name Role
Allison Galbari Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Mr Eoin McEvoy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Fangzhe Qiu Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 16:00 - 16:50