|Study Abroad in Ireland and Northern Ireland|
In summer 2017, Director Lori Gallagher and Irish Scholar Jonathan O’Neill led a group of 12 students to Ireland and Northern Ireland to study the Northern Ireland Peace Process. The program consisted of seven days in Houston and four weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Center awarded scholarships to each of the students to defray the majority of their tuition and travel expenses. The students met with leaders of the Irish and Northern Irish Governments, as well as religious and community leaders.
The group stayed in Dublin for a week, visiting a new exhibit on revolutionary Ireland in the General Post Office, and receiving a private lecture from our October 5 cultural outreach presenter, Sinéad McCoole. They also visited the Irish government in Leinster House and the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin. In Dublin, the students met with political leaders, such as former president of Ireland Mary McAleese, Senator Neale Richmond and president of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams. They also ventured beyond Dublin to St. Kevin’s Chapel in Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains with historian Dr. Charles Doherty, and Newgrange in County Meath and the High Crosses of Monasterboice in County Louth with historian and archaeologist Dr. Peter Harbison. They also heard stories and songs by Helena Byrne, our September 7 cultural outreach presenter.
From Dublin, the students traveled to Northern Ireland to the conflict resolution community at Corrymeela in Ballycastle, stopping to enjoy the scenic beauty of The Giant’s Causeway. At Corrymeela, the group met with Rev. Harold Good, a former president of the Methodist Church of Ireland. Rev. Good set the stage for the intensive focus on the Northern Ireland Peace Process and mentored the group for the majority of their Northern Ireland stay.
Rev. Bill Shaw, Director of the 174 Trust in Belfast, hosted the students for a full day of meetings with various political and community leaders. The students also were invited to attend an art workshop and an Irish music concert at the 174 Trust. The group visited the Skianos East Belfast Mission where they heard about the role of the media in the Conflict in Northern Ireland. They met with former participants in the Conflict, who explained how their lives had changed throughout the years. The students also took historical walking tours of murals and walls in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. They also met with artist Colin Davidson who spoke about his project, “Silent Testimony”, an exhibit based on survivors of the Troubles.
Other political leaders who met with the students were the Hon. Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister, Chris Lyttle of the Alliance Party, Nichola Mallon of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Mervyn Storey of the Democratic Unionist Party and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of the Sinn Féin Party.
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 also visited Cong, Croagh Patrick, the Cliffs of Moher and various scenic places along the west coast of Ireland.
Remarks from 2017 Study Abroad Students
“I have learned to take a deep breath. I have the ability to remove myself from difficult situations and examine them through the lens of peace making. This experience has been educational beyond all hope. The unintentional learning is what I value the most. I will treasure my memories of Ireland forever.”
--Tracy Jones, MLA, Irish Studies
“I have learned that I need to stand up for myself more, because it is not going to do me harm. I have seen women like Belfast Mayor Nuala McAllister and Irish language scholar Linda Ervine who have taken risks and stood up for their beliefs and they are in very important positions today. Although it may be hard, and I may suffer repercussions from people who disagree with me, in the end, it will be worth it.”
--Katherine Montgomery, Psychology and Irish Studies
“What I have brought back with me [out of the study abroad trip] is the importance of relationships, because it is easier to dislike or fear the ‘other’, be it Catholic or Protestant, if you do not know one. The easiest way to alleviate these fears and dislike is by building relationships.”
--Emiliana Aquila, International Studies and Theology