Language, Art & Literature

For centuries, Ireland has inspired a host of artists, poets, playwrights, writers and storytellers to compose some of the best art and literature in the world

Ireland’s artistic heritage is one of indigenous styles adapting to imported technologies and cultures. Its oldest arts have survived on stone monuments over 5,000 years old. The Christianization of Ireland in the fifth century AD saw the establishment of monasteries, which acted as centres of scholarship, and led to the flowering of the insular art style with its highly decorative illuminated manuscripts, metalwork, and stonework (High crosses). For centuries since, Ireland has produced countless master artists—painters, sculptures, photographers—and with emerging technologies Ireland boasts national achievements in graphic arts, gaming, and film production.

Early Irish literature is thought to be the oldest vernacular literature in western Europe, and you can still see examples of Ogham inscriptions on stones in the counties of Kerry, Cork and Waterford. Ireland’s rich literary tradition dates back to early tales of mythical heroes such as Cú Chulainn, and continues right up to prize-winning modern authors such as Anne Enright, Anna Burns and Colm Tóibín.

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Bloomsday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, observed annually in Dublin and around the world on June 16. 

Story of WB Yeats

In March 2024 the UICC welcomes renowned harpist and storyteller with his original one-man show “Come Dance with Me in Ireland—the Story of WB Yeats” in its San Francisco premiere.

Patrick J. Dowling Library

The UICC’s Dowling Library carries more than 3,000 titles and an impressive collection of Irish ephemera.


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