CAI Website

Go to content

Main menu:



Greetings to all our members and visitors!    

Welcome to our website. Our aim is to keep you informed about the association and to provide you with essential information in an easily accessible manner. The Association is thriving, with lots of activities taking place around the country. Scroll down the page to read Brian's article on our 2016 Bulgarian tour.

The CAI Language Summer School will be held at UCD from 5-15 June 2018, please go to our Language Classes page for further details.

The International Byzantine Greek Summer School will be held at Trinity College Dublin from 15 July - 11 August 2018, please go to our Language Classes page for further details.

UCD Open Learning module
The following UCD Open Learning module is open for registration until the 8 th February at:

Dr Jessica Doyle
Introducing Religion in Ancient Greece and Rome
Tuesdays, 7.00pm – 9.00pm,
Jan 30, Feb 6, 13, 20, 27, Mar 6, 13, 20
Venue: Belfield (FEE: €160)
This course offers an introduction to the diverse religious beliefs and practices of ancient Greece and Rome. What did people of these ancient societies believe in? What were their gods like? How did their belief inform their daily lives and experiences?  From mainstream and official civic religion to secretive and exclusive "mystery" cults, this course will explore the various and often perplexing aspects of religious belief, superstition and practice in the ancient Mediterranean. Our investigation will incorporate the rich body of evidence offered by texts, funerary monuments, votive gifts, statues, depictions of religious events and personnel, and important sacred sites

The CAI Summer School will be held on 17th-19th August 2018 in Belfast and hosted by the Classical Association in Northern Ireland (CANI), the brochure and further details will become available in due course on the
Summer School page.

The Classical Association in Northern Ireland website may be accessed at this link.  Full of interesting news and updates on all things classical, the current programme includes details of the schools event 'Celebrating Classical Studies' to be held at the Ulster Museum on 9th February. Go to the 'Upcoming Events' page for further details.
CANI has organised this event in conjunction with Queen's University and Advocating Classics Education (ACE).  ACE is an AHRC-funded project, managed by Professor Edith Hall, assisted by Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, at King's College London.  The project aims to raise the profile of classical subjects in schools and deliver support to teachers.
We send congratulations to the team at Queen's University for the trojan work that has been put into this excellent information facility. The full programme of events may be viewed on the main page of the website.

Dr. Raoul McLaughlin has recently published his book "The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes: The Ancient World Economy and the Empires of Parthia, Central Asia and Han China". More information can be found in the publications section of the website.

Many thanks to Dr. Selga Medenieks for the Newsletter; Dr. Shane Wallace for the Classical Association Facebook Page; Shane and Dr. Eoghan Moloney for the Classics Events-in-Ireland Calendar.  Your collective efforts in keeping our community informed is truly appreciated!

Your continued support of the Association is valued and appreciated. As always, we invite your feedback and suggestions.  

Isabella Bolger

CAI Tour of Bulgaria 2016

Archaeological Tour of Bulgaria May 2016

One of the highlights of the programme of the Classical Association of Ireland is the biennial tour of a country of classical interest under the inspired (and inspiring) leadership of Joan Wright and Andrew Smith.

This year's tour was to one of the less familiar parts of the Greco-Roman world. We know it as Bulgaria but to the ancients it had a variety of names: Thrace, Moesia, Mesembria. It was the land of Orpheus and was associated with some of the great names of antiquity: Philip of Macedon, his son Alexander the Great, the Roman poet Ovid, the emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Diocletian. It was occupied by a succession of invaders: Celts, Thracians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgars and, for many centuries, the Ottomans. All of these peoples have left their mark on the country.

Our trip began and ended in Sophia and took in quite a large slice of the country. What we experienced was a beautiful country with stunning scenery, a wonderful variety of archaeologcal sites and a friendly and welcoming people.

Our local guide was Julien. He, Joan and Andrew had put together a programme that included some of the most interesting sites and museums but also gave us great insights into contemporary Bulgarian society. Julien was a mine of information and his theories about Thracian culture sparked some lively discussion! In addition to this, he was unfailingly kind and helpful. When we recall that we stayed in nine different hotels over the fortnight and, for various reasons, used four different buses., it was a very challenging assignment for Julien.

Sophia (Roman Serdica) has one metro line in operation and another is planned (Dublin please note!). The excavations revealed extensive remains from the Roman period, very well preserved and displayed. Sophia also boasts the most amazing collection of Thracian gold in its archaeological museum. Plovdiv is Bulgaria's second city and quite different to Sophia. It gets its name from Alexander's father Philip but it is the Romans who have left extensive remains. We were entertained that evening by local singers and dancers. On our way to Ivaylograd, we had a tough climb up Perperikon, a strange jumble of massive boulders. It is claimed that Alexander came here seeking to know what the future held for him.We were now working our way towards the Black Sea. On the way, we stopped at the wonderful Roman Villa Armira where we were lucky to have an outstanding guide. On then to Nesebar, beautifully situated on a promontory on the Black Sea and once called Mesembria, Nesebar has many fine Orthodox churches.

Over the next few days, we encountered some fascinating examples of Thracian burial mounds. The one at Pomerie is quite extraordinary and gave rise to lively discussion. Later, we met other tombs at Kazanluk and Shipka.

Although not often available in Ireland, Bulgaria produces lots of wine,some of it very good and very reasonably priced. We had a number of visits to wine producers, large and small, built into the programme.

On then to Varna with its museum and Roman baths. Not far from Varna, we had a very pleasant meal on the shore of the Black Sea, (two of our party even took the plunge!). Our route now took us westward towards Velik Tarnovo but on the way we stopped for a picnic below the Madara horseman, a stone carving high up on the rock face. In the same area were the lovely mosaics at Devnya from Martianopolis, the complex Trajan built for his sister.

On then to Nikopolis ad Istrum and a steep climb up the imposing Tsarevets fortress. Later in the evening we enjoyed a sound and light show. The end of our tour was not far off but there were still some treats in store. First was Stara Zagora with its museum, Roman theatre and mosaic. Another surprise was the importance of rosewater to the Bulgarian economy. Bulgaria is the largest producer of rosewater in the world. We had seen on our travels acres and acres of roses and were given an interesting tour of a rosewater distillery in Karlovo, followed by our last hotel in Hisaria (a town built by the emperor Diocletian) and our last meal all together, enlivened by local musicians playing traditional instruments.

We have been fortunate enough to have experienced Bulgaria, past and present. It is a fascinating country with a wealth of treasures, many of them waiting to be discovered. It remains to record our thanks to Joan and Andrew for all they did both before and during the tour to make it so memorable.

Brian Farley

This calendar is the work of Dr. Eoghan Moloney NUIM and Dr. Shane Wallace TCD.

They have worked together to create a new resource for all interested in Classics in Ireland and this can be found at (click the banner above). It provides the community with a live list of events hosted by the all University depts., societies, and associations each semester. Please support and visit their website.
Back to content | Back to main menu