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Irish Writing Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Dublin, Ireland




• Clear interest and commitment

• Demonstrated preparedness/maturity

• Minimum 3.0 GPA (flexible depending on specific circumstances)

• Good academic and disciplinary standing

• Completion of at least one semester of college-level study at the time the program begins

• Faculty approval

• Participation in orientation programming

Application Due:

• Mid-February

Program Cost:

Check the 'Costs' section under the Application tab.

Students on a writing retreat

Writing Retreat

The Irish Writing Program is a rigorous creative writing program requiring some talent, but most importantly, 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.

Learn more about the Irish Writing Program from past students and the faculty director through our deep dive videos:

Academic Program

Participants in the Irish Writing Program enroll in two required courses:

Dublin Writing Workshop- CNW:3644

This course is taught by a University of Iowa faculty member. Credit for this course can be applied to the University of Iowa’s Non-Fiction & Creative Writing area of the English major, and the Writing in Context focused elective for the Certificate in Writing.

The syllabus for the Summer 2019 session is provided below. A syllabus for the upcoming session will be available in early spring.

Course Description

The workshops meet three times a week for the duration of the program. 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 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.

Bridge in Dublin

Bridge in Dublin over the River Liffey

Literature and Culture of the 20th Century- ENGL:3520

This course is made up of three components, each taught by Irish faculty. Credit for this course can be applied to the UI’s Transnational & Post-Colonial area of the English major.

The syllabus for the Summer 2019 session is provided below. A syllabus for the upcoming session will be available in early spring.

Grafton Street

Grafton Street

Course Description

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 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.

Program Director

Blaine Greteman is a professor of English and the Director of the General Education Literature program at the University of Iowa. Before joining the faculty at Iowa he was stationed in London as a writer for TIME magazine, and he continues to write for popular publications including Slate, The New Republic, and The Week, on topics that have ranged from the Congolese civil war, to Iraqi exiles in England, to Gene Wilder’s super-fans. He has also written numerous scholarly articles and a book, The Poetics and Politics of Youth in Milton’s England (Cambridge, 20113).

Greteman was awarded a Stanford Humanities Fellowship to work on his most current book project, Networking English Print, and has received other honors that include a Rhodes Scholarship and being named a Dean’s Scholar by the Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Transcripts and Grading

Participants are awarded a University of Iowa transcript, and are graded using US letter grades.

Each course provides 3 semester hours (sh) or credit, for a total of 6 sh for the summer session.

Applying credit toward a UI degree

Unless UI Study Abroad has an approval on file for the courses you take abroad to be applied toward a specific major, minor, certificate, or general education requirement, you will receive general elective credit for your course.

If you plan to apply the credit you receive for your program course to a major, minor, certificate, or general education requirement, contact your UI study abroad advisor for details on the process. 

Cultural Activities

Howth Coast

Howth Coast

A welcome meal and farewell dinner will be provided as part of the course fee, and the program allows for a variety of opportunities to get acquainted with Dublin and its environs. Excursions are typically offered as part of the course work.

Students can plan to have 2-3 weekends free to get to know the city and the rest of Ireland. During their free time, participants are free to travel outside of Dublin and its suburbs.

Dublin serves as the perfect hub for travel around Ireland and the rest of Western Europe. Day tour options 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. Longer weekend trips to Western Ireland, Galway, Belfast, London, Edinburgh, and many other regional cities are possible- or even farther if you’re feeling adventurous!

Program Dates

Program dates vary by session. Dates for future sessions are expected to be similar to previous sessions, and will be finalized be early spring.

Dates for the Summer 2020 session were: May 28- July 11.

Calvin Leslie, Summer 2019
”By far, the best field trip was our retreat to Connemara. It was peaceful, and a good place to work while enjoying times with friends. The Snapper was my favorite theater outing because I love Roddy Doyle's work. Our discussion about scene versus exposition was helpful for my writing as a whole, and that was probably the most useful thing."- Calvin Leslie, Summer 2019

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application for this program, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa.
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353


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.

Sunny Dublin street scene with people, cars, motorcycles, etc

Dublin Street Scene


Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean. The country of Ireland (properly referred to as the Republic of Ireland) shares the island with Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is 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 is a nation of about 4.5 million people. Ireland’s friendly population, gorgeous natural environment, unique culture, and rich history make it a fantastic place to study. Ireland’s contribution to literature written in English and indeed other languages is immense, and so the country is an ideal destination for students who want to make the exploration of literature and language the focus of their time abroad.

Cultural Resources


Ireland’s official tourism page on Instagram
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 website and information gateway
The Irish Times
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
The Irish Language
The Irish Traditional Music Archive

Travel sites

Lonely Planet: Ireland
Rick Steves' Ireland
Discover Ireland

Street Sign with arrows to the National Concert Hall, Iveagh Gardens, National Museum of Archeology, National Library of Ireland, National Gallery of Ireland, and the Royal Hibernian Academy

Street Sign in Dublin

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Kate Lohnes, Summer 2019
”This program gave me the physical and emotional distance from home that allowed for me to pursue things I would otherwise have left unconsidered. My writing in particular has benefited— any preconceptions I had about the artist I needed to be faded away and I am creating without the illusion of boundaries.”- Kate Lohnes, Summer 2019

Living Arrangements

The lobby of the student accommodation with chairs and couches

Student accommodation lobby

Accommodations are arranged by IES Abroad prior to departure. Amenities vary by session, but typically include a fully furnished apartment with private bedrooms, and a shared kitchen and living area. The accommodations include wireless internet service and paid 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.

Student accommodation bedroom with twin bed, desk, and shelves

Student bedroom


All students need a valid passport to participate in this program. You can find details about applying for a passport on the UI Study Abroad Travel Documentation website.

Travel Arrangements (Flights)

Student accommodation kitchen with oven, microwave, stove, sink, and cupboards

Student accommodation kitchen

UI Study Abroad will designate a suggested group flight by early spring. Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Dublin with guidance from UI Study Abroad and are advised to take part in this suggested itinerary.

The cost of travel is not included in the course fee.

Those who participate in the suggested flight will be met at the Dublin airport by program staff and transported by shuttle to the program site. Alternative arrangements for transportation from the airport to the program site for students who do not participate in the suggested flight can be made with guidance from UI Study Abroad.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from UI Study Abroad.

If you need advice on making travel arrangements, contact your UI study abroad advisor.

Local Transportation

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

Matteson Quint, Summer 2019
”“Being around students and professors who are as passionate about English & creative writing as I am gave me hope and motivation to pursue my goals. My goal was to leave the program with new writing and revision skills along with some new pieces of work – both of which I accomplished! ”- Matteson Quint, Summer 2019


The Irish Writing Program is open to students attending US institutions, and who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Clear interest and commitment: This program is open to students of all academic backgrounds. Students must demonstrate a clear academic or personal interest in the program’s subject matter and a commitment to engage responsibly in coursework abroad.
  • Demonstrated preparedness and maturity: Students must demonstrate preparedness to take on the heightened responsibilities associated with international study and travel. Students must demonstrate a commitment to behave responsibly abroad while respecting cultural differences. Students are expected to obey both local laws and program directives conveyed to participants before and during the program. The University of Iowa Code of Student Life applies to all program participants while abroad.
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA: Students must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA to participate in this program. Applications from students who have a GPA below 3.0 may be considered for the program, but will be interviewed by the faculty director in order to make a final acceptance decision.
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa, or at another US college or university where the applicant is enrolled in a degree program. Students placed on either academic or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad on a University of Iowa program. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program. Students who are not in good standing at any point overlapping with the program dates will have their acceptance revoked, and will be responsible for the associated late withdrawal fees.
  • Completion of at least one semester of college-level study: First-year student applicants should be prepared to provide at least two academic references when submitting their application materials.
  • Approval By faculty director and UI Study Abroad: Applications will be reviewed by the program’s faculty director, and students will be accepted based on their eligibility, a review of a writing sample, a grade report, an academic recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
  • Attendance at mandatory orientation programming: Students must attend all in-person and online pre-departure orientation programming.

In addition to the requirements above, preference is given to applicants who:

  • Have completed at least two prior semesters of college-level study: Preference is given to students who have already completed at least two semesters of college-level study at the time they submit their application.

Participants who are enrolled at institutions other than the University of Iowa

Students who attend institutions other than the University of Iowa must also contact their home school study abroad office to review any additional study abroad requirements.


Students will be responsible for paying many of their program costs through their University of Iowa U-Bill, while other costs will be out-of-pocket costs paid by the student directly to vendors before and after going abroad. Refer to the cost sheets below for details on the costs associated with this program.

The cost sheets outline the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. They include fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

Costs for future sessions are usually similar to the current session, however students can expect a modest increase in overall costs each session. Final cost sheets for future sessions are typically available early in the semester before the session begins.

Cost Sheets

The following cost sheets apply to the Summer 2020 session.

PDFCost Sheet- Irish Writing Program- Summer 2020- UI Students

PDFCost Sheet- Irish Writing Program- Summer 2020- Non-UI Students

Cost sheets for the Summer 2022 session will be available by mid-spring 2022.

Calculating Fees

The cost sheets are based on the fees described below:

Cost sheets do not include the following optional costs:

Personal Travel Costs

Costs for personal travel are not included in the cost estimates provided on the cost sheet. If you plan to travel outside of your host city or country during or after your study abroad program, you will need to budget for additional funds to cover the cost of your personal travel.

The cost of personal travel depends entirely on each student’s individual travel plans and spending habits. Estimates for personal travel costs provided by past students on this program vary significantly from $800 to as much as $6,000 or more per session.

Costs charged to the U-Bill

  • Application fee (charged at the time of application, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
  • Course Fees Includes host university tuition (charged shortly before departure)
  • Study Abroad Fees (charged shortly before departure)
  • CISI Health Insurance (charged shortly before departure)

Out-of-pocket costs (not charged to U-Bill)

  • Food (paid by student at their discretion while abroad)
  • Round trip airfare from Cedar Rapids (paid by student directly to travel agent or airline- approx. 6-8 weeks prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships are disbursed)
  • Local transportation (paid at student’s discretion while abroad)
  • Passport (paid by student prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships are disbursed)
  • Immigration fees (paid by student upon arrival in Ireland. See the Immigration/Visa section under the Predeparture tab for more information.)
  • Medical exam/immunizations (paid by student as needed prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
  • Personal expenses (paid by student at their discretion while abroad)
  • Cell phone (paid as needed while abroad)
  • Textbooks (paid as needed while abroad)
  • Personal travel expenses (paid as needed while abroad)

Financial Aid & Scholarships

You can find information about options for funding your study abroad experience, including financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc, on UI Study Abroad’s Funding Website.

The University of Iowa’s English department also offers scholarships that English majors can apply to this program. You can find more information about these options on the UI’s Scholarship Portal website.

How to Apply

University of Iowa students

  • Meet with your academic advisor(s) to discuss how this program might fit your graduation plans, and to ensure that it meets your academic and personal goals.
  • If you and your academic advisor agree that this program is a good match for you, complete the UI Study Abroad application. Please note that the non-refundable $50 application fee will be charged to your U-Bill as part of this online application.
  • Please note that for Winter 20-21, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 study abroad programs, students will not be charged the $50 application fee until travel takes place. If a student chooses to withdraw prior to departure due to COVID-19 concerns, the application fee will not be charged.
  • Submit the online application before the application deadline.
  • Shortly after submitting your application materials, you will be contacted by IES Abroad, our partner institution in Dublin, with additional materials that must be submitted directly to them.
  • The faculty director and your study abroad advisor will review your application materials and, if you meet the requirements for the program, you will be contacted with your acceptance status within several weeks.

Non-UI Students

  • Contact the study abroad office at your home institution and ensure you follow all of the policies and procedures required for you to participate in this program.
  • Contact UI study abroad advisor Cory Petersen by email at to request an application for the program.
  • Complete the UI Study Abroad application. Please note that the non-refundable $50 application fee will be charged to your University of Iowa U-Bill as part of this online application.
  • Please note that for study abroad programs through Spring 2022, students will not be charged the $50 application fee until travel is assured. If a student chooses to withdraw prior to the application fee being billed, it will not be charged.
  • Submit the online application before the application deadline.
  • Shortly after submitting your application materials, you will be contacted by IES Abroad, our partner institution in Dublin, with additional materials that must be submitted directly to them.
  • The faculty director and your study abroad advisor will review your application materials and, if you meet the requirements for the program, you will be contacted with your acceptance status within several weeks.



If you are accepted to the program, you will be asked to commit to participating in your program by submitting the University of Iowa Confirmation of Participation form by mid-March.

After you have formally confirmed your plans to participate, you will work both with UI Study Abroad and IES Abroad. Follow instructions from both. Later in the semester, your UI study abroad advisor will contact you regarding orientation sessions, registration, and other required UI procedures and documentation.

Application Deadline

The application deadline varies by year but is typically in mid-February.

Confirmation of Participation

Confirmation materials will be posted after the program application deadline.

Health & Safety Planning

All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International Travelform with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.


All program participants are required to complete immigration requirements to enter and study in your host country. UI Study Abroad and your program provider/host institution abroad will provide you with immigration instructions prior to departure.

Note that permission to enter and study in your host country is provided exclusively by the host country’s government based on that country's immigration requirements. Your host country’s immigration requirements may include considerations related to specific national origin, national heritage, criminal background status, and similar issues that can make it impossible to receive permission to enter the country in some cases. Contact your UI study abroad advisor for more information.

It is essential that you thoroughly review all of your immigration materials before you leave for your host country to ensure that they are absolutely complete and accurate. It is entirely your responsibility to ensure that all of your immigration materials are in order and fully accurate before you leave for your host country. If any of your immigration materials contain inaccurate information of any kind, contact your UI study abroad advisor immediately to discuss your options.

Do not take steps to complete your host country’s immigration requirements until you receive more information from UI Study Abroad.

Review the UI Study Abroad Travel Documentation website for further guidance on the immigration/visa process.


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 ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" 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.

Melissa Trepa, Summer 2019
”“My favorite experiences through our program specifically was our five plays we had the chance to see, the guest writers which came in once a week for a talk and writing session, and of course the traveling, especially on the weekends which were often free. As a class we went on a writers retreat to Leenane and Galway in the Connamora area of Ireland which was beyond breathtaking and amazing.”- Melissa Trepa, Summer 2019

Past participants share some of their favorite moments: