Course Title: Ireland through the Ages: A Virtual Tour
Dates: Thursdays, January 21 through February 11
Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Location: Zoom class
Class Size limited to 12; Please contact instructor before adding more to class
Class Fee: $15
Objectives: In this course we will be going on a whirlwind virtual tour of Ireland, one of Europe’s smallest countries and—in terms of the sheer number of historical sites and archeological remnants still present on the cultural landscape for the armchair visitor to see—one of its most fascinating. Nowhere in all of western Europe do these historical and archeological remnants survive in the concentration that exists in Ireland—hundreds of thousands of them in a country not even two-thirds the size of Wisconsin. This is often explained by pointing to the country’s traditionally rural culture, and more specifically to its dearth of tillable agricultural land. While about 80% of the total land area of Ireland is devoted to agriculture, most of it grazing of livestock, just 6% is tillable, compared with anywhere from a third to half elsewhere in western Europe. That’s meant that ancient temples and tombs, medieval castles and towerhouses, religious settlements and artifacts from the dawn of Christianity, and forts and other defensive dwellings of an age long past were never churned up or plowed under. Rather, they remain where they were constructed, “monuments” of the past—the physical, material, and “readable” record of a long and rich history that has lain largely undisturbed despite the many political, social, and cultural upheavals that have occurred in the interim. Experiencing these amazing monuments in person can be as close to time travel as we will ever get. Until that is again possible, it is my hope that this virtual visit will go some way toward sustaining the curious traveler in each of us.
Course structure: The course will be given in four sessions, each ninety minutes long, covering the following topics:
“Day” 1: The South (Leinster & Munster)
“Day” 2: The West (Munster & Connacht)
“Day” 3: The Northwest (Ulster) & Northern Ireland
“Day” 4: The Northeast (Leinster)
Requirements: Only an interest in travel and history. Handouts provided on the website.Instructor: Dr. Mary Magray has an MA in European history and a PhD in British and Irish history, with a focus on women and religion. She has been teaching a wide variety of European history courses to students of all ages for more than thirty years, including the history of early Irish and British Christianity at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of The Transforming Power of the Nuns: Women, Religion, and Cultural Change in Ireland, 1750-1900, published by Oxford University Press in 1998, and is currently an instructor in the Division of Continuing Studies at UW–Madison. Dr. Magray, a popular instructor, has taught four other classes for Fe University.