An Ghaeilge

An Ghaeilge in Ollscoil Connecticut (Irish Language at UConn)


UConn is one of the very few places in the US where one can study Irish from its earliest forms to its most contemporary – from Old Irish (Professor Fred Biggs), through early modern Irish (Professor Brendan Kane), to the present-day language of the Gaeltachts and Gaelscoileanna.

Professors Mary Burke, a native of Galway and a Gaeilgeoir, and Brendan Kane began teaching conversational and reading classes in Modern Irish in 2005, but on an informal and non-credit basis. Eventually, there were 4 such classes running, from beginners all the way up to a reading group. These classes included participants from all walks: undergrads, grads, faculty, staff and members of the community. Since 2011, UConn has been pleased to participate in the Fulbright Foreign Language Program. Hosting teachers from Ireland each year, we are now able to offer credited instruction in the Irish language. We hope to have Fulbright Irish FLTAs  with us well into the future and, thus, continue UConn’s role as a leading center for the study of Irish language, literature and culture.

Not only is UConn that rare place where you can study Old, Early Modern, and Modern Irish in the US, it is spearheading a multi-institutional collaborative project aimed at teaching people to read Early Modern Irish, the form of the language between, roughly, 1200-1650. This is the age of bardic poetry and of great developments in literary forms and genres. And yet, little of this material is read – by scholars or the reading public – because there are no teaching materials: no dictionary, no grammar and no guide. UConn faculty, students and staff have teamed with experts from Notre Dame, Harvard, the University of Mississippi, UCD,Trinity College, UC Cork and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study on a large-scale digital project for producing such materials.

Irish Language Club

Building on the success of the 2005 Irish-Language Poetry in Translation course, Professors Mary Burke and Brendan Kane organized an informal group of interested students and faculty to begin Irish language instruction. The group has grown in size over the years and meets weekly for language instruction and conversation. Please contact Brendan Kane ( for more information.

Fulbright Foreign Language Program

The Fulbright Scholarships and Awards are presented on an annual basis to Irish student, scholars, and professionals to undertake postgraduate study and research at higher education, cultural, and related institutions in the United States. UConn’s Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants are supported by various departments within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and by the Office of Global Affairs. 

Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants

Colm McGinley (2014-15)

Colm McGinley completed his MA in Modern Irish at the National University of Ireland Galway in 2014. His thesis focused on modern dialectology of two Donegal Irish-speaking communities. Colm offered Irish language classes at the Beginner and Intermediate Levels.

Garret Sweeney (2013-14)

Garret Sweeney holds a MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge from University College Dublin as well as a Postgrad Diploma in Primary Education from St Patrick’s College, Dublin. He teaches at Scoil Bhríde in Ranelagh, Dublin and has worked as an Irish Language tutor for UCD. At UConn, Garret taught Irish language classes for Beginner 1, Beginner 2, Intermediate 1, and Intermediate 2.

Lisa Nic an Bhreithimh (2012-13)

Lisa Nic an Bhreithimh completed her B.A. in Trinity College Dublin in Modern Irish and Philosophy in 2010, followed by a Masters in Communication and Writing of Irish from University College Dublin. She has taught Irish at both universities and for private Irish language schools. At UConn, Lisa offered Irish language classes at Beginner 1, Beginner 2, and Intermediate levels. She now works for the Fulbright Commission in Ireland and presents two Irish language radio shows in Dublin, podcasts of which can be found here.

Cuán Ó Flatharta (2011-12)

Cuán Ó Flatharta teaches at the primary school, Scoil Lorcain, in Monkstown, Dublin. He taught introductory Irish during his time at UConn and ran the Irish Language Club.


Beginner I

An introduction to the Irish language. Students will learn how to converse in Irish, begin studying written Irish and grammar and also learn more about Irish culture. We will study Irish in the context of its status in Ireland and around the world today by looking at Irish language films and connecting with other Irish speakers in and outside of Ireland.

Beginner II

A continuation course of introduction to the Irish language with a more in-depth study of the structure of the language, to give students a greater ability to converse. We study a much broader vocabulary and look more at the cultural context of the language with some literature, Irish videos and music.

Intermediate I/II

Higher level courses in the language with a revision of basic material, more reading, watching and listening to the language including a study on the status of Irish as a minority language today, a study of Irish language media and interaction with Irish speakers in Ireland. There will also be a more in-depth study of grammar and the structure of the language. Students create their own Irish language short film and learn to teach Irish as part of classroom/homework assignments.

An Cumann Gaelach UConn on Youtube