DCU targets global diaspora with free Irish language course online

‘Irish 101’ – the university’s first mooc – will teach Irish greetings, blessings and curses

A Dublin university is targeting the global diaspora and new immigrants with its first online-only course which focuses on learning the Irish language.

The "Irish 101" course, developed by DCU, will teach students greetings, blessings and curses in Irish, along with the meaning of Irish names, mythology and other topics.

Participants will be able to progress from beginner to advanced courses and can, if they wish, complete a full degree in Irish language and culture online.

It is the university’s first massive open online course – or “mooc” – and learners can join for free online.


Thousands of learners have already registered for the course which begins on January 29th.

It is being delivered in conjunction with FutureLearn, a social learning platform with access to more than seven million learners globally. It forms part of a wider “Fáilte ar Líne” (“Welcome Online”) initiative on Irish language and culture that has been developed by DCU.

Seven curses

Along with greetings and blessings, participants will also learn how to invoke seven curses on their enemies (“mo sheacht mallacht ort”) and how to express the wish that every bone in a person’s body is broken (“go mbristear gach cnámh id’ chorp”), among other sentiments.

Tutors say, however, they will explain that the will to cause harm with a curse is something that is not that common in contemporary use of the language.

“Superstitions regarding curses are also mentioned as a warning to those who might feel the need to go down that route,” a DCU spokeswoman said.

“Students also learn how these phrases live on and are or were part of the living culture, especially in the sean-nós singing tradition.”

The course was launched on Tuesday by the Government’s chief whip and Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish language, Joe McHugh.

“I believe that this course will not only be of great interest to the Irish community and diaspora abroad, but also to many Irish people here at home who would like to re-engage with the language, as well as new communities who may be connecting with the language for the first time,” Mr McHugh said.

The project has been led by Prof Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl from DCU’s Irish language school and draws on expertise from Irish language specialists, learning technologists and digital researchers across the university.

“We want to give first, second and third generations of the Irish diaspora an opportunity to learn more about Irish language and culture,” Prof Nic Giolla Mhichíl said.

" We also want to ensure that learners can come to Ireland and experience the Irish language first hand in the Gaeltachtaí."

Learners can register for "Irish 101" atwww.futurelearn.com/courses/irish-language

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent