UCD Lifelong Learning at the NLI

Lifelong Learning at the NLI

This year UCD continues its partnership with the National Library of Ireland by offering a number of history courses as part of the Lifelong Learning programme.

Lifelong Learning at the National Library of Ireland

UCD Lifelong Learning courses are part-time specific interest courses that are participative, engaging and facilitated by experts in their field. The courses are open to all and provide a chance to explore a subject without concerns about assessment. These courses are part of a long tradition in University College Dublin, and follow the legacy of the university’s founder Cardinal John Henry Newman.

This year UCD continues its partnership with the National Library of Ireland by offering a number of history courses as part of the Lifelong Learning programme. The history courses running in the NLI in 2017/2018 are:

Autumn 2017

Spring 2018

Semester 1 Modules (beginning Autumn 2017)

AE-HN135- From Bad News to Fake News: media and conflict 1850-2017 (Tutor: Dr Myles Dungan, starts 4 Oct)

Myles DunganAn exploration of the relationship between political journalism and establishment interests in the English-speaking world from the mid nineteenth century to the present day, with an emphasis on Irish journalistic input.

Since the gradual elimination of political censorship and journalistic controls in Britain in the 1840s – a form of repression less familiar in the USA – the relationship of the press with the dominant political, social, economic and financial powers in the English-speaking world has often been problematic. From the game-changing reports of Irish-born William Howard Russell of The Times in the 1850s (on the incompetence of the British military elite in the Crimea) to the investigative reporting of the Washington Post which undermined the Nixon administration in the 1970s, newspapers, radio and TV have sought to expose corruption, highlight abuse of power and challenge restrictive libel laws – another form of repression less familiar in the USA. In tackling institutional, commercial and governmental excess, as well as outright criminality, many campaigning newspapers have honoured the injunction of the great Irish-American Chicago columnist Finley Peter Dunne ‘to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. This course reflects on some of the more interesting examples of this conflict, and where appropriate, seeks to highlight a significant Irish involvement in the history of campaigning journalism.

This course will take place over 8 Wednesdays 10.30am-1.00pm at the NLI.
Oct 4, 18, 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. Fee: €195
Book your place here.

AE-HN138 - Latin America and the Irish Diaspora (Tutor: Dr Edward Collins, starts 12 Oct)

Edward CollinsThere are an estimated 80 million people worldwide who claim some form of Irish descent. While much work has been done to assess Irish immigration and its historical impact, much of this has focused on immigration to North America, Britain, and Australia. Comparatively, the importance of Irish immigration to Latin America has been overlooked.

This course addresses this historiographically understudied subject by examining the relationship between Ireland and Latin America, from the earliest discoveries in the New World to the present. It focuses on Irish immigration to Spanish and Portuguese territories, and considers the extent to which these immigrants shaped politics, society and culture, from Mexico to Patagonia. It examines their role in colonial and frontier society, the Latin American Wars of Independence and revolution, and assesses how Irish immigration has shaped the modern Latin American republics.

It will study, among others, various aspects of Irish participation in navigation, trade, labour, slavery, war, and religion.

Prior knowledge of this topic, or of Latin American history, is not required for participation. In addition to the role and influence of the Irish, this course will provide the necessary background information on the history of Portuguese and Spanish exploration and settlement in America in each lecture, as well as the development of distinct colonial Latin American societies, and their emergence as independent, modern political entities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

This course will take place over 8 Thursdays 2.00-4.30pm at the NLI.
Oct 12, 19, Nov 2, 9, 16, 23, Dec 7, 14
Book your place here.


Semester 2 Modules (Spring 2018)

AE-HN231 - Land Wars in Ireland 1876-1909 (Tutor: Dr Brian Casey, starts 10 Jan)

Brian Casey

This course explores the background and various stages of the Land Wars from 1876 to 1909. It explores the pre-Land War milieu, its various phases over a thirty year period and how the countryside was mobilised during this formative period as the strong farmers and shopkeepers consolidated their influence in the countryside, with the labourer, town tenant and small farmer losing out. In addition, it explores the role that local activists as well as people like Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell played in the mobilization of the countryside to demand peasant proprietorship and the end of landlordism in Ireland.

This course will take place over 8 Wednesday mornings: 10.30-1.00pm
Jan 10, 17, 24, 31, Feb 7, 14, 21, 28. Fee: €195
Book your place here.

AE-HN287 - Medieval Journeys: Travel and Pilgrimage (Tutor: Dr Nathan Millin, starts 7 Mar)


What was it like to be a medieval pilgrim? Where did they go? What happened on the way? Any journey to a sacred place undoubtedly held a spiritual dimension. Pilgrims bought souvenirs from continental shrines dedicated to familiar Irish saints and visited other religious sites to fulfil vows, for penance or to cure sickness. However, evidence exists of more worldly experiences as well. Roadside hostels provided rest while entertainment existed in the form of taverns and even the occasional Church-run brothel. This course explores individual pilgrim writings uncovering what motivated Irish people to travel, the routes they followed and their experiences on the road.

Medieval Christians often engaged in physical travel as a means to bringing themselves closer to God. These journeys could serve a wide variety of spiritual functions: to fulfil a vow, as a penance, to cure sickness, or simply to expand their own faith. However, at a time when few people travelled beyond their own birthplace, those who did viewed the opportunity as an adventure, a chance to see the wider world and engage in new and often very worldly experiences. Pilgrims shopped for souvenirs at the shrines of familiar Irish saints on the continent and also visited other important local sites. Hostels were established to provide rest and there was ample entertainment in the form of taverns and even the occasional Church-run brothel.

This course will investigate the mechanisms by which Irish people decided to undertake pilgrimage and travel in the middle ages. We will investigate what it was like to be a pilgrim, where they went and what happened along the way. Classes will emphasise the experiences of individual pilgrims through reading and discussion of the primary sources they produced – texts which reveal tales of piety but also adventure, vice and even murder on pilgrim trails.

Students will also be introduced to the sacred places pilgrims travelled to, both in Ireland and abroad, leading to an understanding of the medieval experience of these sites and also the development of sacred space from the pre-Christian period through to the modern revival of pilgrimage.

This course will take place over 8 Wednesday mornings: 10.30-1.00pm
Mar 7, 14, 21, 28, Apr 4, 11, 18, 25. Fee: €195
Book your place here.