Class Travels to Ireland for Fall Break

Author: Tara MacLeod

The Ireland’s Edge class, comprising of 12 undergraduate students, spent Fall break on Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands situated off Ireland’s western coast. This research-based class, generously sponsored by the R.C. Sweetman Fund and a Teaching Beyond the Classroom Grant from the College of Arts and Letters, allowed the undergraduates and their Professor Tara MacLeod, to spend a week conducting research on the islands. Designed as a multi-disciplinary study of the culture of An Ghaeltacht (Ireland’s Irish-language regions), participants in Ireland’s Edge studied this culturally unique region from various perspectives: linguistic, historical, archeological, political, musical and geographical. While on the island, they participated in guided tours led by experts in medieval studies, early Christianity and local history and  explored the island’s rich literature, heritage, folklore and marine culture. In addition to exploring the main island, students solidified their classroom experience with firsthand experiences and encounters and had day-trips to Inis Meán and Goruma islands. Cultural encounters included fishing in traditional boats, preparing traditional meals, attending local religious services and rituals. A private tour of Dáil Éireann (Government Buildings) with Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, who provided a bilingual historical account of Irish politics and invited them to witness Senate and House debates as his guests, brought the intensive week-long activities to a close. Before departing from Dublin airport, O’Connell House hosted a meet and greet with Notre Dame’s study abroad students. The beneficial results of the trip were evident in the high quality final research projects the participants submitted.