The Stony Shores of the Emerald Isle: West of Ireland Field Program
Semester at Sea field programs are an excellent opportunity for students to let someone else do the travel planning. The organization and care that goes into these trips is top notch. They provide voyagers with a great way to “relax” and not have to independently figure out in-country travel, and they let students meet like-minded others with similar interests. Among the very popular options are overnight trips, which include everything from amazing food to great hotels.
The West of Ireland field program was a two-night, three-day trip that encompassed a visit to the Burren, community work, two evenings out in Galway, a guided tour of the city and a trip to the Aran Islands before crossing back across the country to Dublin.
Early morning on the second port day in Dublin found 14 sleepy students on a bus traversing the ever-green Emerald Isle en route the field program’s first stop, the Burren. Located outside of Galway, the Burren (recreation area) is the home of one of the many picturesque and breathtaking destinations in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. However, these students had another agenda that included the famous amounts of limestone. As trip guide Billy said the first morning, “You’ll never see so many rocks.” Stony walls crisscross the land, weaving in and out of pasture areas and up the mountainsides that change from lush green plant life to limestone-capped hills creating the unique stony landscape.
After traveling across the country, the students piled out of the bus to the quaint Burren College of Art, located below a small castle. There, students met Rory, a stonemason as well as a tour guide, who would join them on their service project: rebuilding stone walls along the “Green Walk,” a public path on a mountainside in the Burren. A five-minute bus ride later through a deep mist, the students were donning neon green vests and gloves before a slight hike up the mountainside.
The next morning brought a few more foggy adventures. After a quick breakfast at the Kinlay House Hostel in Galway, students caught a bus then a 40-minute ferry to the island Inis Mor and straight into the main village of Kilronan for a little bit of wandering and lunch at one of their famous pubs, Ti Joe Watty’s, where everyone enjoyed the warmth of Guinness beef stew or fish and chips.
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