Careers in Irish Language

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What is Irish?

The Irish language, also known as Gaeilge, was Ireland’s first language until the late 18th century. While British imperialism wiped out much of the language, the Celtic Revival and Irish Independence in the 20th century have given the language a new life. Students interested in careers in Irish language will study both the language and its use throughout history. 

What 3rd Level Courses are Available?

  • Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:
    • Irish/Gaeilge – the study of Irish as a second language
    • Irish Literature – the study of literature by Irish authors in English, such as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde. 
    • Irish Folklore – the study of Irish communal memory and folklore through oral literature, tradition, material culture, music and song. 
    • Irish Studies – the study of Irish history, society, and culture

Studying Irish in College

First year students will often combine their Irish studies with additional subjects and electives. Students will be introduced to Irish language, literature, and history in their first year, preparing them for more intensive study in the following years.

Language modules will be traditionally assessed using written, oral, and aural examination. At all levels students will be required to complete assessments in and out of class in addition to sitting for regular exams.

Most undergraduate Irish courses will run for three or four years and in certain cases universities will facilitate work experience. Some programs may suggest attending courses in the Gaeltacht for immersion practice. 

It is common with all humanities-based subjects that students are expected to complete a Capstone project. Students will research and write on a topic of their choice (in English or in Irish) with the aid of a faculty mentor, ensuring their successful completion of a rigorous curriculum and preparing them for life after university.

A bachelor’s degree is adequate for some non-research careers in Irish language. For example, graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Irish may start working as arts administrators, translators or interpreters, diplomats or secondary school teachers. Some go on to work in publishing, tourism, law and business as well.

Career Options

Graduating from college with a degree in Irish will serve you well in the job market as it equips you with a unique skill. While Irish is a less-commonly spoken language in Europe, it is an official diplomatic and legal language in Ireland. Additionally, cultural and social institutions in Ireland are consistently looking for fluent Irish speakers to join their teams. 

It is not uncommon for graduates to start off in ‘entry-level’ jobs. Many start their professional careers in journalism, tourism, translation and education.

Other careers in Irish language that require a higher degree of responsibility will typically require further education, training and/or experience to qualify for, eg. teaching, research and government positions.

Most Irish students work in Ireland or for international companies helping to translate and distribute media to multi-lingual customers. Many also go on to teach Irish as a second language in primary and secondary schools.

Related Jobs Include:

  • Diplomat / Foreign Services Officer
  • Secondary School Teacher
  • Translator / Interpreter
  • Journalist
  • Public Relations
  • European Union administrator
  • Travel / Hospitality / Tourism
  • Publishing Agent
  • Television Presenter / Actor

Further Study

An undergraduate Irish degree is often the first step to go onto further postgraduate study often involving specialization in particular fields and areas of Irish and/or undertaking work in new, sometimes interdisciplinary fields such as translation, manuscript studies, or education.

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What points do I need to study Irish?

  • Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always best that you check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or Four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, English, Irish or another language. Certain institutions require Leaving Cert students to have taken H4 Irish as well. 

Are there any particular qualities you need to study Irish?

  • You will need to be fascinated by other languages and cultures and excited to study the world from a different perspective. You will need to possess the desire to learn to think critically through the study of literature and folklore and as well as history. Finally, you will need to be detail oriented, self-disciplined, and confident.

Where can I study Irish?

  • Explore your options here.

Did You Know?

  • Irish has the oldest literary tradition in Western Europe, stretching all the way back to the 4th century AD with the Ogham alphabet!
  • In 2013, Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield tweeted in Irish from the International Space Station. This marked the first time Irish was used in space!
  • Nearly 2 million people speak Irish in Ireland. Surprisingly, 18,000 Americans speak Irish as well!
  • Irish is an official language of the European Union!


Ethan Moser

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