Centre for Continuing Education

Ireland Course: The Celts to the Celtic Tiger

History. See the future. It’s in the past.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

This course explores the Emerald Isle from its Celtic, Viking and Norman history to its geography, language and culture. Learn about the pivotal figures that shaped Ireland’s history, the influence of the Irish diaspora on the world and the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a general understanding of the history and geography of Ireland
  • discuss the geo-political landscape of Ireland
  • discuss the unique Irish view of life, both past and present
  • recognise the unique beauty of the Irish language and its culture.


Celtic, Viking & Norman history of Ireland

From the beginning, Ireland wore a welcome sign to invaders, or so it seems. We will explore the different impact each invasion had on the Emerald Isle and how the Vikings and the Norman particularly, became more Irish than the Irish themselves.

History of Ireland as part of the British Empire

From the 12th Century until 1921, Ireland was part of the British Empire. We will examine the turbulent history through a series of important characters and the role they played, both good and bad, in the history of Irish politics from Home Rule to Anglo-Irish Treaty – Elizabeth I, Oliver Cromwell, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and Padraig Pearse.

Ireland’s independence – 1916, Collins & de Valera

We will examine the rise and fall of the 1916 Easter Rising and the political impact, as well as some of the main protagonists who rose out of the rebellion and who had a role to play in the War of Independence and the Civil War, namely Eamonn de Valera and Michael Collins.

Irish culture – The land of saints and scholars

We will examine the profound impact Irish culture has had on the world. From the Book of Kells to U2, we look at all components of Irish society – language, sport, music and literature. From Guinness to hurling and all in between, we will also explore the lighter side of Irish life, from shamrocks to shenanigans!

Ireland – Now and the future

We will examine how Ireland transformed itself under the Celtic Tiger, and how it has regressed since. We will look at the impact this has had on Irish Australia and the diaspora of Irish around the world and what the future holds for the Emerald Isle.

Topics covered within the above chapter framework include:

  • Mesolithic and Neolithic Ireland
  • Celts and St Patrick
  • The Vikings and the Normans
  • The flight of the Earls
  • Wolf Tone
  • The Act of Union & Daniel O’Connell
  • Catholic emancipation and the famine
  • The Fenians and home rule
  • The 1916 rising
  • The War of Independence
  • The Civil War and the Treaty
  • Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael
  • 1937 Constitution
  • Neutrality during WW2
  • 1960’s – Civil Rights Movement and "The Troubles"
  • The Celtic Tiger, 2012 and beyond.

Intended audience

Anyone interested in the history and culture of Ireland, both for those of Irish ancestry, or those intending to visit the Emerald Isle.

Delivery style

Delivered as an interactive workshop. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered by an experienced facilitator.


A course handbook will be provided in class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • Very informative course taught in an engaging way. Thank you!

  • Presenter was wonderful – a fountain of knowledge, and very personable. A very enjoyable class!

  • The presenter was a very engaged and engaging teacher. I found the day interactive and enjoyable. This was my first experience with CCE – choosing a 1-day course was ideal for me to experience and decide if I would choose others. I’m very happy to say I will definitely do so after this experience.

  • I enjoyed the lecture very much and learnt heaps that I didn’t know about Irish history. I thought the presenter was wonderful, very vibrant and dynamic!

  • I am extremely satisfied and pleased with the presentation, information notes and the high standard of the tutors of the courses I have attended at Continuing Education. They are indeed of a very high standard.

  • The presenter was excellent – personable, entertaining, interested in the views of group members, informative and passionate about the subject. I would recommend most highly.

  • I really enjoyed the day – it was entertaining, educational and interactive. The tutor was great at encouraging student participation which proved to be just as interesting. They achieved a lot in our allocated time.

  • The tutor was superb, excellent delivery, and was both entertaining and informative.

  • It was a very friendly and happy experience and we learnt a lot.

  • This was a fantastic course with a very prepared and personable presenter.

What others say.

  • It was a very friendly and happy experience and we learnt a lot.
  • I enjoyed the lecture very much and learnt heaps that I didn't know about Irish history. I thought the presenter was wonderful, very vibrant and dynamic!
  • The content was superb and the tutor knowledgeable, engaging and stimulating.
We acknowledge the tradition of custodianship and law of the Country on which the University of Sydney campuses stand. We pay our respects to those who have cared and continue to care for the Country.