Belfast Summer School

A Rising Phoenix: Meet the Belfast Summer School 2020 Tutors!

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index2It has been a rapid rise for the Belfast Summer School. From an initial uptake of 11 students for Ancient Greek in 2016, it grew to include Latin, to support dozens and dozens of students of varying linguistic experience, to provide workshops, to host academic talks, to organise trips to historical sites, to open its own bookshop and to offer both long and short courses.

And then COVID-19 seemed to have stopped that growth in its tracks.

The 2020 edition was cancelled.

CaptureBelfast Classics could take solace in the yearning to learn about the ancient Mediterranean civilisations would see students return next year. But if that yearning was there now, why not try something different? Lockdown has demonstrated that a lot of work can be carried out from home with meetings organised through the internet video conferencing.

Suddenly, like a linguistic Phoenix, the Belfast Summer School was rising from the ashes of 2020 by going virtual! It was going to take place in a limited format – a single week with only a couple the usual levels of Latin and Greek offered.

19800978_472808719720802_1381361688056873602_oBut those virtual baby steps quickly became less tentative, more ambitious as interest was shown in taking up these limited places. That yearning for ancient Mediterranean civilisation was not just confined to these Irish shores and the quicker more places were offered, the quicker they were taken up by people from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Mexico, USA and Canada.

Within no time, the original schedule of Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Latin and Greek, Greek workshops and academic talks had all been restored. Where there had been just one week of classes, there is now two, with all slots filled. From just 11 students in 2016 or actually none just a few weeks ago, there are now over 100 students enrolled.

‘Dead languages’ indeed…

So here is an introduction to all those involved in delivering the Belfast Summer School 2020: ONLINE EDITION.

Ebcek9dXQAAbofBDr Kerry Phelan has been with the Belfast Summer School since its inception in 2016. Lecturer in Ancient Classics at Maynooth University, Dr Phelan teaches Beginners Greek at the Summer School. Her research centres on Attic oratory and Athenian social history. Her doctoral thesis was a commentary on Demosthenes ‘Against Euboulides’, which will be published by Liverpool University Press as part of the Aris & Phillips Greek Orators Series in 2021.

Eb1WECaXkAEqf3xAmber Taylor teaches Beginners Latin. She has recently completed her BEd (Hons) from Stranmillis University College, with her undergraduate dissertation being an investigation into the benefits of Classics Education in Northern Ireland Primary Schools.

Amber is a board member of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland, and sits on the Central Council of the Classical Association of Ireland. She currently teaches Primary 3 and is pursuing a Masters in Classical Studies.

“So delighted to see Amber holding her completed dissertation! I know how much careful research she completed. I can’t wait to read it!”

Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson (@DrArleneHH)

“Amber is an amazing ambassador! What a delight to work with her, and especially to see her teach Classics in the primary school with such enthusiasm.”

Sharon Jones (@cbiggerpicture)

EcPXGxLXkAEH-NlAnother involved with the Belfast Summer School since the start is Intermediate Latin tutor Stephen McCarthy. He is a PhD candidate at Maynooth University, researching Ancient Physics, Epicurus, and Lucretius.

“In 2016, I gave a talk on Sappho to the Belfast Summer School in Classics. It was just Beginners and Intermediate Greek then, with Helen McVeigh and Dr Kerry Phelan. I came back the next year to teach Latin. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength, now holding classes at Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of Greek and Latin. Our upcoming online summer school will host an astonishing 100+ students from all over the world. I’m very proud to be a part of this endeavour, and very thankful to @BelfastClassics for organising everything in her characteristically brilliant fashion.”

Stephen McCarthy (@MisterJabsticks)

EcejwxIWoAAjLi_Lynn Gordon is Head of Classics at Royal Belfast Academical Institution and will be teaching Advanced Latin at the Summer School. After her MPhil at Corpus Christi College Cambridge, Lynn worked in London and Cambridge. She says she’s nerdily obsessed with Vergil and has presented to CANI on the classical inspiration of Seamus Heaney.

“[Lynn] taught me Classics in Methody and was by far the best teacher there – she’ll be brilliant! She probably won’t remember me but she inspired me to do both a BA and MA in Classics/Ancient History and Ancient History respectively and I enjoyed them immensely!”

Chris McCoubrey

EcoioceWsAUlDmyThe Summer School’s ‘new boy’ is Derek McCann, a senior tutor in the department of Ancient Classics at Maynooth University. Derek will teach Advanced Greek and has chosen a play by his favourite author, Sophocles, to read with the class. He is undertaking a PhD on the topic of ‘Fathers and Sons in Sophocles,’ exploring the significance of the father-son relationship in the tragedies of Sophocles.

“The eagle-eyed among you will notice the hood and rightly conclude that, yes, the last decent picture I took was after my BA!”

Derek McCann

EcywTkrWoAATf2BHelen McVeigh is the founder, coordinator and general organiser of the Belfast Summer School. Through her hard work in not just teaching the Intermediate Greek class but in promoting and growing the Summer School, it has gone from having 11 students meeting to study Greek in 2016 to this year’s online courses being taken by over 100 students worldwide.

Helen has a Masters degree in Classics and Ancient History from Queen’s University Belfast, is Convenor of the Classical Association in Northern Ireland and vice-chair of the Classical Association of Ireland. She teaches ancient Greek to groups and individuals at all levels, both online and face-to-face in Belfast.

“Classics champion!”

Joanne Brown

“Congratulations Helen! You are a star!”

Professor Helen Lovatt

As well as the tutors, the Belfast Summer School 2020 will see two online academic talks from members of CANI.

On Monday 20th July, 1:15pm BST, Dr John Curran will present ‘Herod: Antiquity’s Craziest King?’

indexDr Curran studied at QUB and Worcester College, Oxford. He has been a visiting scholar at Worcester College and visiting Fellow at St. John’s College Oxford and is currently a Senior Lecturer in History at Queen’s University Belfast. He has written widely on widely on Romano-Jewish relations; the religions and society of the ancient Mediterranean and the Christianization of the later Roman Empire.

He serves on the governing council of The Classical Association of Ireland and is treasurer for the Classical Association in Northern Ireland.

For those interested in viewing Dr Curran’s talk, follow this link –

On Wednesday 22nd July, 1:15pm BST, Barry Trainor will present on ‘The Praying Mantis: Seercraft in Ancient Sparta.’

105032769_1170836199918047_7287076866759363384_nAs well as being a board member of CANI, Barry is graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, with both a BA (Hons) in History and a MA in History, with a dissertation on ‘Spartan Religion and the Conduct of War.’ He is currently undertaking his PhD at QUB, investigating ‘The Role of Divination in Spartan Decision-Making from the Archaic to Hellenistic Period’.

For those interested in viewing Barry’s talk, follow this link –

If you cannot tune in to either of these talks on the day, it is hoped that they will be uploaded the CANI Youtube channel at a later date.

Another part of this year’s Summer School will be a workshop on accentuation in Ancient Greek led by Dr Martine Cuypers. She studied Classics at Leiden University and worked as a lecturer and research fellow on both sides of the Atlantic, before becoming Assistant Professor in Greek at Trinity College Dublin.

cuypersDr Cuypers’ research focuses on epic poetry and the Greek literature of the Hellenistic and Imperial period. She is on the steering committee of Trinity’s Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures research theme and chairs the Classics development group of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Dr Cuyper’s workshop is open to all, but those interested should email to receive the link and worksheet, which will be emailed to participants the day before the workshop.

So as you can see, this linguistic Phoenix is definitely ready to fly!

If you are looking for any more information about this year’s Summer School, its talks, future editions or learning Greek and Latin in general, you can contact Belfast Classics at

Helen McVeigh and Peter Crawford


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Six months on from the third Belfast Summer School in Latin and Classical Greek, a group of hardy students and tutors met at Queen’s University for a day of even more Latin and Greek. Feedback from Summer School participants had suggested that students were interested in studying these ancient languages more frequently.  So, in contrast to the annual summer meeting, in rather chillier temperatures, 14 students and six tutors met on Saturday 2nd February 2019 to spend the day consolidating, revising, learning new Latin and Greek grammar, and reading texts in the original language.

Beginners Latin students revised grammar which had been covered in the 2018 summer school, with tutor Amber Taylor using Ecce Romani, a textbook which some readers might remember from school!  The Intermediate Latin class began with some grammar revision with tutor Stephen McCarthy.  The aim of Stephen’s class was to read Catullus 51, the poet’s version of Sappho 31, a poem to his beloved, Lesbia.  Dr Laura Pfuntner’s Advanced Latin students read the story of Daedalus and Icarus from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and concluded the day with scansion.

The Beginners Greek tutor was Dr Kerry Phelan and her class reached the conclusion of chapter 1 of the Athenaze textbook.  Intermediate Greek students spent the morning revising grammar with tutor Helen McVeigh.  After lunch, the group translated a short passage from Xenophon’s Hellenica.  Lynn Gordon’s Advanced Greek class began reading from the speeches of Lysias and, after lunch, translated a section from Aristophanes’ Peace.

As co-ordinator, the most important result for me is that students enjoyed the day, which I’ve been assured they did.  Thank you to all the tutors for their hard work preparing for the classes, and for giving up their Saturday to teach.  On behalf of the Summer School staff, thank you to the students for their energy and enthusiasm for Greek and Latin, and we hope to see you again in July!

Helen McVeigh

For information about the 2019 Summer School, its brochure and how to apply, click HERE

To see what goes on at the Belfast Summer School, have a look at the review of its 2018 edition HERE

Posted by The Classical Association in Northern Ireland on Sunday, February 10, 2019

2019 Belfast Summer School in Ancient Greek and Latin

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The 4th Annual Belfast Summer School will take place in July 2019 at Queen’s University Belfast, offering courses in Latin and Classical Greek at beginners, intermediate and advanced levels.

Due to the popularity, the Summer School will this year be offering extended courses Students can now enrol for either five days – Monday 22nd July to Friday 26th July – or for nine days – Monday 22nd July to Thursday 1st August.

Also, due to the success of its initial appearance on the schedule in 2018, the Summer School will again be offering translation workshops on Thursday 1st August.

There will also be guest lectures, the subjects of which will be confirmed at a later date.

For more information, you can download the Belfast Summer School Info Booklet by clicking HERE

If you have any questions not answered here or in the booklet, please do not hesitate to contact Helen McVeigh at

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