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Irish literature

Project work is an integral part of the syllabus at the South of Ireland Language Centre. The riches of Irish literature will be explored in the advanced classes during July. Students will also be encouraged to do project work which covers
Ireland most famous literary works in English.

For a comparatively small island, Ireland has made a disproportionately large contribution to world literature in all its branches. Irish literature encompasses the Irish and English languages.

The island’s most widely-known literary works are undoubtedly in English.

Particularly famous examples of such works are those of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Ireland’s four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature; William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

Ireland’s oldest literary traditions, however, are found in the Irish language, referred to simply as “Irish”. Indeed, Irish has the third oldest literature in Europe (after Greek and Latin)[1] and the most significant body of written literature (both ancient and recent) of any Celtic language. Furthermore, the historic influence of Irish language traditions, such as a strong oral tradition of legends and poetry, has helped make much English Literature in Ireland quite distinctive from that in other countries. From the older tradition, many Irish writers in English inherited a sense of wonder in the face of nature, a narrative style that tends towards the deliberately exaggerated or absurd and a keen sense of the power of satire. In addition, the interplay between the two languages has resulted in an English dialect, Hiberno-English, that lends a distinctive syntax and music to the literature written in it.

Irish literature is rooted in Celtic mythology as well as the suffering and hardships the Irish people have experienced over the course of their history. Wit and humour, often in the form of satire or irony, have characterized much of Irish literature. Another key feature has been the ample use of wordplay – from the early sagas to the 20th-century experiments of James Joyce.