Some of the comments attributed to Michael McCarthy ("The last island takes road to Rome", THES, October 14) make curious reading for Irish art historians. Particularly bizarre is the notion that, until Professor McCarthy's recent expedition, Irish students had never been taken to Rome.
For many years the staff of his own department have been involved in student visits abroad, which included visits to Rome, and study periods in Paris, Rome and Florence have long formed an integral part of undergraduate teaching at Trinity College.
Professor McCarthy's "sense of Irish isolation" is also difficult to understand in a country where the universities are inundated with Erasmus students and where for much of the year it is hard to move in the capital city without being engulfed by conversations in Spanish or Italian.
As for the need to renew our acquaintance with Rome, the National Gallery of Ireland has recently given us an excellent exhibition of views of the city from the Thomas Ashby collection, which it promptly followed with the rediscovery of a Caravaggio.
Not bad going for the ultima thule.
ROGER STALLEY Professor of the history of art Trinity College, Dublin.