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ACE2254 Myth and Magic: An Introduction to the Study of Irish Folklore and Mythology. ONLINE COURSE ONLY is a Course

ACE2254 Myth and Magic: An Introduction to the Study of Irish Folklore and Mythology. ONLINE COURSE ONLY

Jan 25 - Mar 29, 2022

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Full course description

Course Overview

This course provides an introduction to the subject of Irish mythology and folklore, ranging from ancient stories of heroes, gods and sacred sites, to contemporary beliefs in the supernatural (particularly fairies, the banshee and ghosts). Legends, customs, festival celebrations and storytelling traditions are explored, as well as the history of the compilation of mythology as well as folklore collection in Ireland and how the mindset and agendas of different collectors influenced different views and understandings of the collected material. Traditional Irish stories and customs are explored in order to gain insights into cultural meanings and how people make sense of the world around them. Classes cover mythological sources as well as traditional beliefs, customs and narrative traditions in the Irish context.


This is a great course for anyone interested in the beliefs, stories and customs of ordinary people. It is especially suited to anyone interested in the supernatural, mythology, customs, popular religious ritual or storytelling.  The course is unique in that it provides in-depth discussion of a variety of aspects of Irish folklore, mythology, religiosity and the cultural history of Ireland. It is the only ACE course that examines topics such as fairies, ghosts and other beliefs from an academic perspective; serious attention is not often paid to these aspects of culture.


Course Schedule 


Classes will be delivered online on Tuesdays 7-9pm for ten weeks from 25 January to 29 March.


· CLASS 1 (25 January 2022) 

Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Approaches to the Study of Folklore and Mythology 


· CLASS 2 (1 February 2022) 

Part 1: Imbolc & St Brigit’s Day Part 2: The Otherworld and Water 


· CLASS 3 (8 February 2022) 

Part 1: Celtic Spirituality & the Notion of Mystical Ireland 

Part 2: The Irish Literary Revival & Folklore Collection 


· CLASS 4 (15 February 2022) 

Part 1: Lughnasadh (Harvest Festival) 

Part 2: Bealtaine (May Day) 


· CLASS 5 (22 February 2022) 

Part 1: Halloween and Samhain 

Part 2: Vampires in Irish Tradition 


· CLASS 6 (1 March 2022)

Part 1: The Native Irish Otherworld

Part 2: Fairy Legends and Landscapes 


· CLASS 7 (8 March 2022) 

Part 1: Witchcraft in Ireland

Part 2: The Cailleach 


· CLASS 8 (15 March 2022) 

Part 1: St Patrick and the Mythic Christianisation of Ireland

Part 2: The Pattern Day (Pilgrimage Traditions) 


· CLASS 9 (22 March 2022)

Part 1: Aliens & Fairies 

Part 2: Fairy Lore in Newfoundland, Canada 


· CLASS 10 (29 March 2022) 

Part 1: The Banshee & Death Omens

Part 2: The Wake (Funeral)


Course Lecturer

Dr. Jenny Butler holds a PhD from the Department of Folklore and Ethnology, UCC and currently works in the Department of Study of Religions, UCC, where she teaches on New Religious Movements and Western Esotericism. She is a specialist on Irish folk religion and is currently conducting a comparative ethnographic research project on beliefs and legends about fairies as part of the intangible cultural heritage of Ireland and Newfoundland, Canada.  Research Profile:

Entry Requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement. No prior knowledge of Irish culture, folklore, mythology or the Irish language is necessary.


Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.

Closing Date for Application

Monday 17 January

Contact Details for Further Information

Regina Sexton, Phone: 021-4904700, Email: