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Irish Writing Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Dublin, Ireland




Good academic standing (3.0 GPA preferred) and demonstrated interest and ability in creative writing.

Application Due:


Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

Gerard Manley Hopkins writing desk, Newman House, Dublin

Gerard Manley Hopkins writing desk
Newman House, Dublin

The Irish Writing Program is a rigorous creative writing program requiring some talent, and especially commitment and discipline. Its goal is to help aspiring writers become better at their craft. University of Iowa students and non-UI students are welcome to apply to the program.

The program has two components: writing workshops, and an interdisciplinary Irish literature & culture course. It offers six semester hours of credit. Grades are issued by the University of Iowa on a University of Iowa transcript.

The creative writing workshop converts to CNW:3644 (Dublin Writing Workshop) and applies to the Non-Fiction & Creative Writing area of the University of Iowa English major and the Writing in Context focused elective for the Certificate in Writing. The literature & drama course converts to ENGL:3520 (Literature & Culture of the 20th Century) and fulfills the Transnational & Post-Colonial area of the English major.

The 2016 Irish Writing Program will run from Thursday, June 2, 2016 (arrival) through Saturday, July 16, 2016 (vacate apartments and return to U.S. or independent travel in Ireland/Europe).

Academic Program

Classroom of James Joyce, Newman House, Dublin

Classroom of James Joyce
Newman House, Dublin

Writing workshops are held three times a week. Writing workshop hours may be increased to facilitate workload. The interdisciplinary literature and culture course also meets three times a week. Classes and workshops are held Monday - Thursday (no classes are held on Fridays).

Participants are awarded U.S. letter grades on a University of Iowa transcript, and the courses may not be taken on a pass/non-pass basis. Participants receive one grade for the writing workshops, worth 3 semester hours of credit, and one grade for the Irish literature & culture module, also worth 3 s.h. Assessment for the Irish literature & culture module will consist of class participation, 2 midterm papers, and 2 final papers. Assessment for the writing workshops is continuous and consists of class participation, completion of assignments, student-teacher conferences, and effort and development during the course of the summer.

Program Director

Jeff Porter directs the Undergraduate Creative Writing Track at the University of Iowa, where he also teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program and in English, specializing in creative nonfiction and media studies. He is the author of Oppenheimer Is Watching Me, Understanding the Essay (with Patricia Foster), and Lost Sound: The Forgotten Art of Radio Storytelling. His essays and sound works have appeared in Antioch Review, Isotope, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Missouri Review, Hotel Amerika, Wilson Quarterly, Contemporary Literature, Seneca Review, Blackbird, and Atticus Review, among other journals.

Writing Workshops

The workshops meet three times a week for six weeks and are taught by Irish writers. In addition to having their work critiqued in class, students will receive written analyses of class work. Emphasis is placed on how to read closely and how to get (and give) the best constructive criticism. Students' work will be sent to the Academic Director for evaluation at the time they apply to the Irish Writing Program. Students will bring work-in-progress with them and also write new material during the program.

Students write assignments of varying lengths, both short (about one page) and long (about fifteen pages). Students must follow the page-length guidelines closely. In all, students produce about one hundred pages of new work during the writing program. Workshop schedules are organized to ensure that this is an easy goal to achieve.

Because student work is at the heart of the workshop, writing assignments are obligatory. Students must deliver assignments on time. Late work is not accepted.

Irish Literature & Culture

Doorway, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Photo by Jim Tade
Doorway, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

An appreciation of Irish literature and culture is inextricably bound to a familiarity with Irish history. This interdisciplinary course will examine Irish literature, drama, visual arts, cinema, music, history, and culture. It will introduce students to a variety of Irish writers, ranging from the modernist authors, Joyce and Yeats, to contemporary poetry, prose, and drama.

The 20th century saw Ireland emerge as a free State in 1922, achieve the status of Republic in 1948, and join the EEC in 1970. Partition in 1926 resulted in Northern Ireland remaining part of Britain, including within its borders a sizeable nationalist minority. These political developments with their ensuing periods of violence created different conditions for writing north and south of the border. Over the last thirty years, the modernization of the Irish economy has led to conflict between church and state over national morality, and this conflict has led to a pronounced urban/rural divide, and a general feeling among women that the state has not always operated in their best interests. These political and social changes have given rise to rich, experimental works of literature that challenge the fundamental concepts of selfhood and identity along national, gender and religious lines.

Irish theatre has emerged from specific cultural, social and political contexts since the early part of this century when the Abbey Theatre housed J.M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World and Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock. Both of these plays provided the impetus and the extraordinary dramaturgical templates for most of the Irish playwrights that followed them. Irish theatre has never evaded the politics of nation. The emergence, relative stagnation, and the most recent advances of the Southern Irish State and the tensions and politics of the Northern Irish Troubles combine to make Irish theatre dramatic practices internationally respected.

Sample reading list (from a previous program -- this will vary according to the tastes and interests of the instructors):

• John Banville. The Book of Evidence.
• Oona Frawley (ed.). New Dubliners.
• Ciaran Carson. Prose & poetry selections.
• Various writers . Poetry & conflict in Northern Ireland.
• James Joyce. Dubliners.
• William B. Yeats. Selected Poems.
• John M. Synge. The Playboy of the Western World.
• Martin McDonagh. The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
• Mark O'Rowe. Howie the Rookie.
• Frank McGuinness. Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.
• Tom Murphy. A Whistle in the Dark.
• Brian Friel. Translations.

Cultural Activities

Harbor at Portmagee, Co. Kerry

Photo by Jim Tade
Harbor at Portmagee, Co. Kerry

Several tours are planned and are included in the program fee. Day tours may include: an introductory tour of the capital city focusing on important areas of cultural and historic interest, tours of the James Joyce Museum, the Joyce Tower in nearby Sandycove, and the Book of Kells at the Trinity College Library. A weekend excursion is also included in the program fee. Transportation, 2 nights lodging, entrance fees, and a group dinner are covered. In the past, the group has traveled to Western Ireland or to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

During the program, participants are allowed to travel outside of Dublin and its suburbs. However, the program strongly suggests that no more than 2-3 weekends of travel are taken. More travel may hinder a participant's work and performance in the program.

Program Dates

The 2016 Irish Writing Program will run from Thursday, June 2, 2016 (arrival) through Saturday, July 16, 2016 (vacate apartments and return to U.S. or independent travel in Ireland/Europe).

For More Information

Bray Head, Co. Kerry

Bray Head, Co. Kerry

The Irish Writing Program
The University of Iowa
Office for Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802

Phone: 319-335-0353
Fax: 319-335-0343

The Irish Writing Program takes place on the University College Dublin campus in the Belfield section of Dublin, where students are housed and where the classes are taught. UCD was founded in 1854 as a place of higher learning which allowed Catholics to attend. It was originally located in the city center, but due to its popularity and rapid growth, UCD relocated to its current large campus about 2.5 miles south central Dublin. UCD is a comprehensive university and, at 25,000 students, it is Ireland's largest university. The campus is nicely landscaped and there are numerous playing fields. Notable UCD students include Gerard Manley Hopkins and James Joyce.


Dublin is a vibrant, European capital city of historical and cultural importance. From its many theaters to its beautiful parks to its friendly, cozy pubs, Dublin is an excellent place to be educated and entertained.


Grafton Street busker, Dublin

Grafton Street busker, Dublin

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic ocean. “Ireland” is one of two countries that are located on the Irish isle. The Republic of Ireland is the proper name for “Ireland,” an independent country that is a member of the European Union. Northern Ireland is the name of the other country on Ireland, and is a member of the United Kingdom along with Scotland, Wales, and England.

Ireland has a very rich past, and is known for its friendly population. Its contribution to literature written in English and indeed other languages is immense.

Living Arrangements

The common room area in a Roebuck Hall apartment

The common room

Students are housed in fully-furnished, en-suite single rooms in the UCD residence halls, sharing kitchen and living areas. Bed linens, kitchen equipment and dishes will be provided, but students will need to provide their own towels. The accommodations include wireless internet service and washing machines. Students are expected to keep their apartments clean and in the order they were during move-in. Any damage will be assessed at the end of the program.

Accommodations are provided for the duration of the program only. It is not possible to get into the apartments before the official start of the program. Students wishing to arrive a few days early may request recommendations for economical hotels and hostels in Dublin.

Kitchen with a view

Kitchen and dining area

Travel Arrangements

The exterior of Roebuck Hall

The exterior of Roebuck Hall

Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Dublin, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. A list of travel agencies and internet resources will be provided. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee.

Participants are expected to arrive on the morning of the start date of the program and will be met at the Dublin airport by staff from our program and from the UCD international office, who will be at the airport until noon. For those students who arrive/depart Dublin independently of the group flight and are unable to take the arranged shuttle, we will provide information about alternative ways to get to campus at the beginning of the program and to get to the airport at the end.

Local Transportation

Dublin has an excellent public transportation system comprised of busses and light rail. A bus pass is included in the program fee. Dublin's modern, international airport provides a hub to all major European capitol cities.


Applicants must be 18 years of age by June 1. This program is open to both students and people who are not studying at an academic institution. Applicants will be selected based on a writing sample, a recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Applicants with a 3.0 G.P.A. or higher (on a 4.0 scale) are given preference. Applications from students who have a G.P.A. below a 3.0 may be considered for the program, but will be interviewed by the academic director by telephone prior to acceptance.


For summer 2016, the base program fee is $5,700. The base program fee includes all academic and administrative expenses, housing, a Dublin bus pass, on-site orientation, a welcome dinner, cultural visits, entrance fees for museums and theater outings, a speaker series, a weekend excursion, and a farewell dinner.

Additionally, students will be billed for the UI study abroad administrative fees and the required Iowa Regents CISI Insurance.

Students should also be prepared to pay for airfare, most meals, textbooks, and personal expenses.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
March 22- 30, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 10%
March 31- April 12, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 25%
April 13- May 2, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 50%
After May 3, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 100%

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

How to Apply

You can find the application for this program on our website by clicking here. Non-UI students cannot apply through our online system; those students should request a PDF application from

The deadline for completed applications is March 2, 2016. Applicants must submit a writing sample between 10 and 20 double-spaced pages (no more). This sample can be fiction or literary nonfiction. You may also combine genres and submit multiple pieces that add up to the minimum of 10 pages. Please do not send more than 20 pages. As poetry and plays are not writing styles taught on the program, all writing samples should be in prose form. Along with the writing sample, a statement of purpose essay of approximately 300 words is required. Students will need to submit an academic reference form which will be provided once the online application is completed (non-UI applicants: This form is included in the application PDF).

UI students should upload their supplementary materials via the online application. Non-UI students should mail these to the study abroad office.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Resources and Cultural Information

A Page of Art From the Book of Kells

From the Book of Kells


The James Joyce Center
Dublin Writers Museum
IES Dublin Center
The Gate Theatre
The Abbey Theatre
The Gaiety Theatre
The Samuel Beckett Theatre
Dublin Castle
National Museum of Archeology & History
National Gallery of Ireland
Dublin city web site and information gateway
The Irish Times on the web
Trinity College Dublin

Irish History & Culture links

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
Historical Walking Tours of Dublin
The 1916 Rebellion
Kilmainham Goal
Irish Culture & Customs
Irish Culture Guide
The Irish Language
The Irish Traditional Music Archive

Travel sites

Lonely Planet: Ireland
Rick Steves' Ireland
Discover Ireland

Irish Websites, Books, and Films

Summer 2014 students on the Irish Writing Program share some of their favorite moments:

Photos from past participants: