InsightOut: A Love for the “Curious World” of Celtic Studies

InsightOut: A Love for the “Curious World” of Celtic Studies

Matilda Horton is a Victoria College student in her fourth year of her Undergraduate degree, studying Celtic Studies and Drama. She is currently working as an executive for the Celtic Studies Course Union and is in the process of applying to Celtic Studies MA courses across the UK and Ireland. Tilly would be happy to discuss all thinks Celtic Studies at any time, so long as you have a few hours to spare.

A Love for the “Curious World” of Celtic Studies

Photograph of a sunset over the mountains of Skye, Scotland, with a winding road in the middle and a swath of clouds in the sky

Some of the first questions asked of Celtic Studies students at the beginning of their introductory classes include: What is Celtic Studies? Who were the Celts? What makes up the Celtic identity?

As you can imagine, I was taken aback by these questions. Aren’t they supposed to tell us what Celtic Studies is? Isn’t that why we’re all here? How can I possibly know all this already?

What I didn’t realize in those first few classes was that Celtic Studies is the pursuit of answers to big questions about a relatively small part of the world. As a life-long lover of puzzles (and their clear-cut solutions), these questions both excited and terrified me. After the initial panic of being met with so many unknowns, I settled into a comfortable state of uncertainty, and this is where the real work began.

Like many of my peers, I came to the program with a genuine interest in Celtic history and identity but with little concrete knowledge. One of my best memories is being seven years old, standing on the side of the road in the north of Scotland. I remember looking around me at the vast landscape and feeling an inexplicable age and weight in the world around me. Since then, I’ve been determined to learn as much as I could about the Celtic world and its history. When I discovered that St. Michael’s offered a program in Celtic Studies, I couldn’t imagine studying anything else. Every day I am offered the opportunity to reconnect with the world that has fascinated me for so long. With every class my peers and I get to dive deeper into the history, culture and concepts that bring back that same feeling of awe in me.

With every class this curiosity is piqued and amazement grows. There is virtually no end to the things we are able to explore within the program. I have been able to delve into Celtic art, history, politics (both modern and ancient), mythology, language, literature, law, music, and so much more. My classmate are musicians, writers, historians, and artists—all of whom, like me, have found a love for the curious world of Celtic Studies. Although the program is on the smaller side, it is mighty. With a variety of student-led and department-run events (Céilí events, guest lecturers, hurling practice, film screening and even baking!) the Celtic Studies community exists vibrantly outside the classroom.

The scholarly experience in Celtic Studies is truly like no other as students have the freedom of studying under a department that is eager for us to explore. Professors challenge students to go further; to follow our inquires as far as they will go, dare to not know, and most of all keep asking questions. Because of these core values of the program, my peers and I have been able to study topics and build skills we never could have imagined (reading ancient Irish and Welsh texts), never thought ourselves capable of (learning a Celtic language!) and will have gleaned facts that will likely stick with us forever (the validity of The Wicker Man: sacrificial ritual or Nicolas Cage film? The world may never know).

I often get the question “what’s next” in my studies. People struggle to see where a degree in something so specific yet all-encompassing may lead. To that I usually have no definitive answer. Not because I have no opportunities: it’s actually quite the opposite. From my degree I have been able to explore paths I never thought possible. Maybe I will work in translations, or publishing, archives, teaching, writing, cultural studies, politics, or curation. Or maybe I will fall in love with a field of Celtic Studies I have never even considered. Ultimately, I am led by that affinity for the endless exploration that this program has instilled in me. As I apply for MA programs across the world in Celtic Studies, I do so fueled by my desire to explore and with an eagerness to see what I discover.  No matter what, I will always be asking questions about the Celtic World. What next indeed.

Read other InsightOut posts.