About the Program
For more than a century, the University of California, Berkeley has been a locus for the study of Irish culture, language, and literature. In 1911, the first North American degree-granting program in Celtic Languages and Literatures was founded at Berkeley, and the Celtic Studies Program thrives today, offering the only undergraduate degree in Celtic Studies in North America.
W.B. Yeats spoke at Berkeley in 1904, and since then many important figures in Irish politics and culture have visited. Seamus Heaney was a lecturer in the English department in 1970-1971, and he returned throughout his life. In 1989, Paul Muldoon was the Roberta C. Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry in the English Department, and Medbh McGuckian took up the same post several years later. In 1991, President Mary Robinson visited campus and was awarded the Berkeley Medal, the university’s highest honor. President Michael D. Higgins made a major visit in October 2015 and announced the founding of the program during his time on campus. The Irish Studies Program was officially launched in Fall 2016.