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Program Elements

The Irish Studies Program is made up of three primary elements: 2 classroom phases and the field program.

During the spring semester, students engage in a comprehensive examination of Irish history and culture designed to prepare them for the field study component to be conducted during May Term. While the course focuses on the broad expanse of Irish history, students also study Irish music, poetry, and drama. The primary historical foci of the course are “An Gorta Mor” (The Great Irish Famine), Irish migration, and modern Irish politics. Students must take this course to continue on to the travel element of the program.

During the first portion of May Term, students will complete academic work and be introduced to the basic elements of technology that will be used in the program (graphics, web-page construction, digital photography, word processing, editing, distance learning, etc.).
Students will travel to Ireland to visit several museums, archives, heritage centers and schools to work with leading professors and scholars in the fields of The Great Famine, emigration studies, and modern politics. Included are:

  • Famine Museum, Strokestown.
  • Ulster-American Folk Park & Centre for Migration Studies. Omagh, Co. Tyrone
  • Martin McCrossan & Derry City
  • Cobh Heritage Center. Cobh, Co. Cork
  • Skibbereen Famine Cemetery & Memorial
  • Blasket Heritage Center. Dunquin, Co. Kerry

While on the field program, students must work on and complete a journal and a portfolio/internet project which will serve as vehicle to draw their studies together. Programs with scholars and museum visits will be supplemented with selected readings.

Students will be expected to complete all elements of the program, including submission of a journal at the conclusion of the tour. Successful completion of the program fulfills the May Term requirement.

Tour Details

The ISP excursion is led by two chaperones — this year the team will consist of Gillian Branigan and William Stites.  In addition to the MKA chaperones, the group will be escorted and cared for by our experienced Irish driver guide Rory O’Connor. Based in Killarney, Rory has worked with the program for many years and is an outstanding guide. Parents can feel secure in the fact that students are well supervised and cared for during their time in Ireland.

From the time we touch down at Dublin until we depart for home, the group travels in a luxury, air-conditioned private coach. Having private transportation at hand gives us the ability to be flexible and enhances the overall safety and cohesion of the group. No hassling with transportation schedules and timetables of major carriers means we can work at our own pace and focus upon the elements of the experience that matter most to our particular group

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