Study Abroad

Study Abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland
Study Abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland 1

In summer 2015, Center Director Lori Gallagher JD led a group of 12 students to Ireland and Northern Ireland to study the historical and political aspects of the island, past and present.  The program consisted of two weeks in Houston and three and one-half weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Through the generosity of the Irish Gala and other donors, the Center was able to award $44,000 in scholarships to the students to defray the majority of their tuition and travel expenses.  The Center also provided other financial support to the program to enhance the study abroad experience.  The students met with leaders of the Irish and Northern Irish Governments, as well as religious and community leaders.

During their one-week stay in Dublin, the students visited the National Museum of Ireland, Leinster House and the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin.  They also ventured beyond Dublin to St. Kevin’s Chapel at Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains and St. Brigid’s Well in Kildare.  The students also enjoyed a full day with archaeologist and historian Dr. Peter Harbison, who took the group around Newgrange, Monasterboice and Trim Castle.

From Dublin, the students traveled to the conflict resolution community at Corrymeela in Ballycastle, in Northern Ireland.  The group met with Rev. Harold Good, a former president of the Methodist Church of Ireland.  Rev. Good served as the group’s mentor for three days at Corrymeela and for a week in Belfast. 

Study Abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland 2

Rev. Bill Shaw, Director of the 174 Trust in Belfast, hosted the students for a full day.  Through Rev. Shaw, the students met with members of the Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor and others.  They also listened to a special concert of traditional Irish music at the Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts.

In Belfast, the students visited the Skainos East Belfast Mission, where they heard about the role of the media in the Conflict in Northern Ireland.  They also met with former participants in the Conflict, who explained how their lives had changed throughout the years during and after the conflict.  The students took walking historical tours of murals and walls in Belfast and the walled city of Derry/Londonderry.

From Northern Ireland, the students traveled through Sligo and visited the grave of WB Yeats at Drumcliffe.  They moved on to Galway City, where they spent several nights, exploring the artistic, musical and religious aspects of Galway.   The students took at day trip through the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher before returning home.

Remarks from 2015 Study Abroad Students
“You cannot truly understand and appreciate a country until you have visited it. UST's study abroad trip to Ireland not only allows students to see a beautiful country rich in Celtic heritage, but also to experience it first-hand with a variety of excursions that touch the quintessential cultural aspects of the island, from architecture and religion to music and politics.

What I enjoyed the most was casual conversation with Irish people. While listening to prepared speeches and Q&A sessions is informative, the discussions over a meal and coffee provided a deeper understanding and appreciation of Ireland's people.”

-Aleeta Bureau, Master of Liberal Arts with an Irish Studies Concentration

“The opportunity we were given – the chance to speak with people so intimately entwined in the former chaos of Northern Ireland – gave me, and I am certain others in the group, insight into not only the lives of the people of Northern Ireland who experienced the effects and aftermath of the conflict, but also our own lives. Study abroad allowed me to develop an appreciation for what I have and where I live, and to be able to look at other places that are not so fortunate with the fullest compassion that they deserve. I also feel the experience inspired me to get involved more with the future of the peace process.

I was very surprised at how welcoming we found the city of Belfast. The entire objective of the trip was to understand the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process. The history is very sad and dark. Belfast surprised me because I sensed more of the peace than the violence through which it had passed, and that sense was quite refreshing. Others may disagree, and some things are far from being resolved, but I believe the worst is behind.

Furthermore, I was surprised at how much we fit into the trip! I believe we genuinely saw more of Ireland than many Irish locals have seen!”

-Caprice Erickson, History Major and Irish Studies Minor

“During the study abroad program, it was amazing to experience the centuries of Irish history. Reading about the history is great, but to actually be there brings history to another level. We visited various historical sites, such as the Neolithic site of Newgrange and numerous medieval castles. We also took walking tours of revolutionary Ireland and of Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Studying in Ireland was one of the greatest opportunities of my life. We not only learned about Irish culture and politics, but we also experienced them directly. These experiences will help us to be better students and more worldly citizens.”

-Brian Harper, Communications Major

“As a whole, the trip brought me to a new understanding of life and culture in another part of the world, which I consider a priceless takeaway. The overall journey was spectacular. It was quite emotional as well. One moment you might find yourself exhilarated as you ride through beautiful, rolling hills dotted with sheep. Then you would hear a story about friends or family who had died and it would bring a stark, sad view of reality. The overall progress of Northern Ireland is spectacular. It made me realize that peace is something that should never be taken for granted.”

-Timothy McNally, Business Major

“This trip confirmed a suspicion I have held for many years: I was made to live in Ireland! I enjoyed the opportunities to experience such amazing places as Newgrange, the monastic sites in Wicklow, and Belfast, while working with experts like Dr. Peter Harbison and Reverend Harold Good.

I was most impressed by our time spent with Reverend Good. His intelligence and knowledge are inspiring, and he has an incredible personality. He is the sort of man that makes you happy just to be around.”

-Janna Tierney, English Major and Irish Studies Minor

Irish Student Life

Irish Student Life  

Join the Irish Club, take Irish language courses, study abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland or earn a Minor or Master of Liberal Arts graduate concentration in Irish Studies.

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Support the Center  

The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies is one of a kind in the Southwest. Learn how to get involved with the Center. 


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Events & Lectures

Events & Lectures  

The Center sponsors lectures and cultural events, such as St. Patrick’s Day, storytellers and lively concerts.

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Center for Irish Studies Study Abroad
Center for Irish Studies
The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston is the only Irish Studies academic program in the Southwest. The Center serves as a focal point for the study and appreciation of Irish and Northern Irish history, literature, politics, law, language, music, art, drama, culture and society.
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