As part of the Irish Experience module, all American learners are expected to attend six mandatory field trips. Generally these field trips are scheduled for the first six Fridays of the academic term; however, a confirmation schedule will be sent to learners prior to their arrival. The purpose of the field trips is to allow learners to experience important historical sites throughout the province of Leinster that complement the history section of their Irish Experience module. 

The first field trip is broken into two parts: an introduction to historical Carlow and an introduction to County Carlow. For their first Irish Experience class, learners will be taken on a guided history tour of Carlow Town by Dr. Margaret Murphy, a lecturer at Carlow College. On the Friday of their first week, learners will take a guided field trip through County Carlow stopping at the following historical sites: 

Killeshin Romanesque Church and Killeshin Hill 

The church at Killeshin dates back to the 12th century; however, the monastic settlement dates back to the late 5th century. This church is particularly known for its Romanesque doorway.          

Old Leighlin Cathedral

The church at Old Leighlin dates back to the 13th century, although the monastic settlement dates back to the 7th century when St. Gobban established a monastery. It was Gobban’s successor, Laserian, who decided the dispute with the Roman Church over when Easter would be celebrated in Ireland.      

St. Mullins 

St. Mullins is an important monastic site in Ireland that dates back to the 7th century. As the monastery grew, so too did the esteem of its founder, St. Moling. It was at this monastic site that the Book of Moling, a Gospel book dating back to the 8th century, was written (this book is currently on display at Trinity College, Dublin and learners will have the opportunity to see this book on their Dublin field trip). Other notable features at St. Mullins is the penal chapel and the motte overlooking the monastery.

New Ross (Co. Wexford)

Learners will visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Emigrant Experience. They will take a guided tour of the visitor centre and view a replica of the Dunbrody Famine ship from the 1840s. It was from New Ross, Co. Wexford that the ancestors of President John F.Kennedy left for the United States.  On his visit to Ireland in 1963, President Kennedy travelled to New Ross and gave a speech on the quay to over 10,000 well-wishers.

 

The second field trip is designed to introduce the learners to Ireland's capital. Along with the ability to experience a major European city, learners will also visit historical sites and museums. A few of the sites that they will visit are:

Kilmainham Gaol

Built in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol is a Victorian prison where many of Ireland’s political prisoners were incarcerated. Learners will visit the museum dedicated to the history of Irish nationalism and take a guided tour of the prison where the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence were executed.

Trinity College, Dublin

Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603), Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest third-level institution.  Learners will see an exhibition that includes the Book of Kells and the Book of Moling, a book that is attributed to St. Moling who founded the monastery of St. Mullins (site of their first field trip). They will also take a tour of the Long Room which contains over 200,000 books and a 15th century harp, the oldest of its kind in Ireland.

National Museum of Ireland

Learners will be able to view Celtic and Medieval art and the famed Tara Brooch. They will also see prehistoric artefacts and learn about the Vikings in Ireland.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle was the seat of British rule in Ireland until 1922.  Learners will take a guided tour of Dublin Castle. Highlights will include: St. Patrick’s Hall, Throne Room, State Drawing Room and remnants of one of its original towers. 

The third field trip is to the ‘Garden of Ireland’, County Wicklow. This trip allows students to experience the natural beauty of Ireland by visiting sites in the Wicklow Mountains. Among their stops, learners will visit: 

Glendalough

The 6th century monastic settlement of Glendalough was founded by St. Kevin. Learners will visit the visitor centre and take a guided tour of the monastic settlement that comprises a round tower, ancient cathedral and many Celtic crosses. Learners will also get the opportunity to explore the valley that surrounds the monastic settlement which includes two lakes, a waterfall and many trails. 

 

Meeting of the waters

Considered one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, the meeting of the waters is where the Avoca River is formed by the meeting of the Avonmore and Beg Rivers. In 1807 the Irish poet, Thomas Moore, penned a poem depicting this scenic location: 

There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet

As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet

Oh the last rays of feeling and life must depart

Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart

Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart

 

Yet it was not that nature had shed o’er the scene

Her purest of crystal and brightest of green

‘Twas not her soft magic of streamlet or hill

Oh No ‘twas something more exquisite still

Oh No ‘twas something more exquisite still

 

‘Twas that friends, the belov’d of my bosom were near

Who made every scene of enchantment more dear

And who felt felt how the best charms of nature improve

When we see them reflected from looks that we love

When we see them reflected from looks that we love

 

Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest

In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best

Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease

And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace

And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace


Avoca Handweavers

The final stop on this trip is to the Avoca Handweavers mill, Ireland’s oldest working mill (c.1723). Learners will visit the mill and learn about the craft of handweaving.

 

 

The fourth field trip is to Ireland’s ‘Sunny Southeast’. Learners will be able to experience all aspects of Irish history and visit one of Ireland’s premier beaches. They will also climb Mount Leinster, Ireland's fifth highest mountain in Ireland. From here, they will have a panoramic view of the counties in the province of Leinster.   

 

The National 1798 Visitor Centre

Students will to learn about the 1798 Rebellion in this interactive museum. They will participate in a 4D experience of the Battle of Vinegar Hill and other activities related to the battles of this period in Irish history.

 

 The Irish National Heritage Park

Students will learn about: Pre-Historic Ireland, Early Christian Ireland and the Age of Invasion. This park stretches over 35 acres recreating settlements depicting each of these three periods.

 

 

Curracloe Beach

The final stop on this trip is at Curracloe Beach, a white sandy beach along the Irish Sea. This beach was also the place where Saving Private Ryan (1998) was filmed.


 

 

 

 

 

The fifth field trip is to Kilkenny City, also known as the ‘Marble City’. Created a city in 1609, learners will explore medieval Ireland's past and discover why Kilkenny City is rated as one of Ireland's best tourist destinations.

Dunmore Caves

Dunmore Caves were formed over 300 million years ago and go as deep as 150 feet under the earth's surface. Along with their important geological formations, the Dunmore Caves have historical value. In 928 AD the caves were known to have been raided by the Vikings. In 1999 there were artefacts containing forty-three silver and bronze items discovered dating to 970 AD.

Kilkenny Castle

A highlight of the Kilkenny trip is the tour of the Kilkenny Castle, home of the Butler family. Built by William Marshall in the 13th century, the castle served as the residence of the Butler family from 1360 to 1967. In the 1990s the castle underwent restoration and now boasts and exquisite art gallery in the Long Galley.

St. Canice’s Cathedral/Round tower

Built in the 13th century, St. Canice’s Cathedral is an example of impressive English Gothic architecture and contains many monuments dating back to the time of the Reformation. Next to the Cathedral, learners will be able to climb the 9th century round tower.

 

 

The final field trip of the term is a trip designed to blend old and new Ireland together. On their way to Kildare, they will visit many ancient locations including:

Rathgall (Ring of the Rath, County Wicklow)) 

Dating back to 800BC, learners will be able to walk around this historical site from the Bronze Age. This site consists of three inner stone rings surrounded by a large ditch. Its history is still be uncovered as some evidence suggests that this was the seat of the King of Leinster.

Castledermot High Cross

The principal purpose of this trip is to visit the monastery and the two famous high crosses and a Romanesque archway.

Moone High Cross

Ireland’s second tallest high cross stands in Moone. This impressive cross depicts scenes from the Bible including: the twelve apostles, the temptation of St. Anthony and Daniel in the lions' den.

St. Brigid’s Cathedral

The final stop of the term is to St. Brigid’s Cathedral and Garden. St. Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland and founded a monastery in the 5th century. Built in English Gothic style architecture, the cathedral boasts many important early Christian and Norman carvings. After their visit to the cathedral, learners will be able to take a stroll through the gardens.


What our past study abroad students had to say...

It was my first taste of independence, and it was exciting. I learned so much about my own life, about culture, about friendship, about necessities, about family.

MikeHarper College Spring 2014

Traveling around Ireland and Europe and getting to visit places that I had only ever dreamed of was absolutely amazing! I gained a deeper appreciation for other cultures and I have a more worldly view of things.

Caitlin Fall 2014, St. Ambrose University
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Morgan Shannon's Irish Experience (Spring 2014)