Ireland is home to some of the literary greats, from James Joyce to WB Yeats. Spark your students’ enthusiasm for Literary & Theatrical studies with an educational trip of a lifetime.

The Emerald Isle, as Ireland is affectionately known, is a literary and theatrical dream. Its rolling hills, stunning landscape laden with heather, and dramatic skies are an artist’s paradise, and inspiration can also be drawn from the hustle and bustle of Irish towns and cities, including Dublin which famously inspired Joyce’s ‘The Dubliners’.

Writing and acting students alike will benefit from an educational programme in Ireland, and will be able to return to class refreshed, invigorated, and with a new perspective on their studies. All of our study programmes are tailor made to the requirements of the professor or faculty member leading the trip.  We have included a sample itinerary below to give you a taste of what studying abroad in Ireland can offer.

All AES groups have access to 24 hour emergency assistance throughout their programme.

Day 1

MORNING Arrive at Dublin or Shannon Airport. Meet with your private coach and driver/guide then depart for Galway
AFTERNOON Visit to the house where James Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle was raised

When your group arrives, you will meet with your private coach and driver/guide then depart for Galway. Upon arrival in Galway you will enjoy an orientation tour of Galway City. Galway was the place where the Irish Literary Revival movement was born at the turn of the twentieth century, inspired by the vision of W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory.

Following some free time, you will visit the house where James Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle, was raised. They met in Dublin. James Joyce visited the house in Galway twice, and the tour includes information on the couple, on James Joyce himself and on his work connected to Galway.

You will also visit Eyre square, which has a statue of Padraig O’Conaire, a noted Irish writer, as well as a curious rusted metal sculpture representing the famous Galway hooker – a boat which is unique to Galway.

MORNING Depart Galway. Visit to Sligo
AFTERNOON  Visit to Parke’s Castle in Lough and Drumcliffe

After leaving Galway you will continue your journey northwards towards Sligo, known as Yeats Country and the home of the Irish literary revival period. The beautiful landscapes and folklore of Sligo inspired the poet William Butler Yeats. In the town of Sligo, you will visit the Yeats Society’s photo and art galleries, and cafe.

You will then drive around Lough Gill by “Dooney Rock” and “Sleuth Wood”, and then stop for a visit to Parke’s Castle – a restored plantation castle of the early 17th century. Here, you will enjoy some poetry readings overlooking the picturesque Lake Isle of Innisfree before continuing to Glencar Waterfall and Hazelwood.

Following your departure from Lough, the coach will head north to visit Drumcliffe, the site of an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Colmcille in the 6th century. You will enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful church, built in 1809 and recently restored, where John Yeats was Rector in the early years of the 19th century. His great-grandson, the poet and Nobel Laureate, William Butler Yeats, is buried in the adjoining churchyard, and the headstone on his grave bears the chilling epitaph he himself wrote just a year before his death: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death – horseman, pass by”.

MORNING Tour through Connemara
AFTERNOON Visit to Kylemore Abbey

The third day of your stay in Ireland will involve a day’s touring through Connemara and a visit to the imposing Benedictine monastery, Kylemore Abbey, as well as its Victorian walled gardens. The area is as famed for its musical roots as it is for both its literary and film locations. Connemara, is a land of breath-taking lakes and rivers, bogs and mountains.

In the afternoon, your group will visit Kylemore Abbey, which is located in the Kylemore Pass in Connemara. The Abbey was built by Mitchell Henry in 1868, after having spent his honeymoon in the area and falling in love with the picturesque scenery. The architecture is best described as neo-gothic and the house still displays all the characteristics of that period. One of Kylemore Abbey’s most famous features is its miniature cathedral, built in 1870, and known locally as the Gothic church.

MORNING Mini-bus excursion of the Aran Islands
AFTERNOON Walk to Dun Aengus
EVENING Exploring the island

Amongst other writers, J M Synge who penned ‘Playboy of the Western World’, took much of his inspiration from the Aran Islands. Inishmore, is a wild and rugged concoction of cliffs, caves and ancient monuments, immortalised by Synge in his famous ‘Riders to the Sea’.

The three Aran Islands, Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore, standing out in the Galway bay, form a mass of limestone, similar to the Burren’s geology. This area is dominated by Dun Aengus, one of the most impressive Neolithic forts in Europe. A trip to the islands offers a journey through time, as well as an encounter with the old Ireland, the mythical Ireland.

Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, is made up of 14 tiny villages. You will take a ferryboat from Connemara in order to get there. The tour begins with a mini-bus excursion, followed by a refreshing walk to Dun Aengus. This is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. Dun Aengus is a huge prehistoric Fort built on the edge of a 300ft cliff on Inishmore. You will return to Rossaveal and the mainland in the late afternoon, which allows free time for exploring the island before departure, and perhaps doing some writing or talking about what you have seen so far.

MORNING Visit to Cliffs of Moher
AFTERNOON Visit to Thoor Ballylee
EVENING Visit to Coole Park

This morning, the first stop is the Cliffs of Moher. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, and bordering the Burren Area, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. Standing 230 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs are a must see. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as well as the beautiful valleys and hills of Connemara.

Later in the day you will visit Thoor Ballylee, which is a 16th century tower house built by the famous de Burgo family. The 16th century Norman tower is where W.B Yeats, one of Ireland’s greatest poets, lived between 1921-29. It was also where he first met Lady Gregory, his patron. Most of the woodwork and china has survived and the house has been restored down to the original colour on the walls. The exhibition focuses on the literary importance of the house. A complete set of broadsheets, illustrated by J.B Yeats (brother of the poet), and a collection of first editions by W.B Yeats were found here.

After departing Thoor Ballylee you will visit Coole Park. This is the former location of the house of Lady Augusta Gregory, who was visited by W.B. Yeats, and was the subject of some of his poetry. Lady Gregory was a dramatist, and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, together with Edward Martyn and W. B. Yeats. All that remains of the house itself are some crumbling walls and a stable yard, but the grounds and lake are now a particularly beautiful nature reserve. The lake served as Yeats’ inspiration for his poem, The Wild Swans at Coole. Here you will find the Autograph Tree, a copper beach carved with the initials of Yeats and other writers of the Irish Revival.

MORNING Depart for an Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour
AFTERNOON Visit to Listowel
EVENING Stop at John B. Keane’s Pub for an Irish coffee

This morning you will depart for an Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour of Limerick. You will follow your knowledgeable guide through the sites mentioned in Frank McCourt’s award winning book, including Sutton’s Coal, Windmill Street, St. Joseph’s church and more, and relive this extraordinary life.

You will then continue to your next stop, Listowel, described as the Literary Capital of Ireland. This little town has produced an abundance of world famous writers, giving it a uniqueness not to be found elsewhere in Ireland. To celebrate this tradition, a centre has been established to honour some 100 writers who have emerged from the county over the centuries with special attention to the five writers of North Kerry, John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon, Brendan Kennelly, Maurice Walsh and George Fitzmaurice.

The Seanchaí presents the works of the great Kerry writers in a unique audio-visual experience. The centre features five of County Kerry’s most esteemed writers: John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon, George Fitzmaurice, Brendan Kennelly and Maurice Walsh.

Following your visits in Listowel, you will stop at John B. Keane’s Pub for an Irish coffee. Born in Church St. Listowel in 1928, John B. Keane was one of Ireland’s best loved playwrights, journalists and raconteurs. The public house in William Street that bears his name is now managed by his son, Billy.

MORNING Free morning in Galway
AFTERNOON A visit to the Mick Lally Theatre

This afternoon, enjoy a visit to the Mick Lally Theatre, formerly known as the Druid Theatre. Druid was founded in Galway in 1975, by graduates of the National University of Ireland, Galway; Garry Hynes, Mick Lally and Marie Mullen. The theatre is a facilitator of artistic development and promotion in Galway, and it is passionate about its audience-centric approach, having won a myriad of awards since opening.

MORNING Depart for Dublin
AFTERNOON Walking tour of Literary Dublin
EVENING Visit to the Guinness Storehouse

This morning you will depart for Dublin to continue your tour. You will meet with your expert guide and enjoy a city tour with a literary flavour, with particular emphasis on the Georgian architecture, saluting Oscar Wilde’s modernistic sculpture facing his first home in Merrion Square.

Your tour will then visit the Birthplace of George Bernard Shaw in the more humble neighbourhood of Synge Street and then onto the Dublin Writers Museum in Parnell Square, which traces Ireland’s rich heritage of writers and literary figures. The collection features the lives and works of Dublin’s literary celebrities over the past 300 years. Swift and Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett are among those presented through their books, letters, portraits and personal items.

This afternoon, you will drive around some of Dublin’s elegant Georgian squares before passing by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, associated with Dean Jonathan Swift, author of “Gulliver’s Travels” and visit the 16th century Trinity College founded by Elizabeth I, now home to the famous illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells. Many famous writers have studied here, such as Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Bram Stoker (Dracula), J.M.Synge, Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot) and many more.

Leaving Trinity College, you conclude your tour with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. You will spend some time in the Advertising Gallery, where you will find a display of all Guinness advertising material, past and present. The tour ends on the roof high above Dublin, in the Gravity Bar, with a pint of Guinness and the best view of the city.

MORNING A Visit to Christchurch Cathedral
AFTERNOON Visit to Dublinia
EVENING Backstage tour of Abbey Theatre

This morning your first visit is to Christchurch Cathedral. King Sitric Silkenbeard built Dublin’s first wooden church on this site in 1038. Ravaged by time and the elements, it was almost fully restored towards the end of the 19th Century. Like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it is adorned with Funeral monuments, including the reputed tomb of Strongbow, its founder and Ireland’s first Norman Conqueror. Attached to the Cathedral is the Synod house, which houses Dublinia, an excellent exhibition of medieval Dublin.

Following your visit to Christchurch, you will visit Dublinia. Built as a meeting house for ecclesiastics, today it houses an excellent exhibition on 15th century Dublin. This award-winning exhibition allows visitors to experience life in Dublin during the Middle Ages.

In the evening, you will partake in a backstage tour of Abbey Theatre – Ireland’s National Theatre. Many important works have been staged here since its opening in 1904.

MORNING Walking tour of Dublin
AFTERNOON Free Afternoon to catch up with studies or partake in cultural activities

Many of Ireland’s eminent writers were born in the 19th Century. Your first stop will be a visit to G.B. Shaw’s Birthplace. Upon arrival to the house on Synge Street, you will be greeted with a simple plaque that presents students with the understated accolade to George Bernard Shaw ‘Author of many plays’.

Afterwards, you can enjoy a photo opportunity at Merrion Square. Oscar Wilde’s home for many years is situated here, and his satires brought Dublin to prominence during the late Victorian era. His works, including An Ideal Husband, the Importance of Being Earnest and the Picture of Dorian Gray, have enshrined him as Ireland’s greatest satirist. Moreover, a short way from St. Stephen’s Green, in Kildare St., you will see the house of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.

MORNING Visit to the James Joyce Museum
AFTERNOON Bloomsday Tour

This morning you will travel to Sandycove for a visit to the James Joyce Museum in the Martello Tower. James Joyce spent six nights in the tower in 1904, and it is the setting for the first chapter of Ulysses.

This afternoon the emphasis is on Joyce’s Dublin, his “Anna Livia Plurabelle”, with a Bloomsday Tour tracing the route depicted in “Ulysses”, beginning with a talk in the James Joyce Centre, whose director is Joyce’s nephew. You will return to Dublin via the home of Maeve Binchy, and one of Bernard Shaw’s childhood homes in Torca Cottage, Torca Road in Dalkey. You will also pass University College Dublin where Colm Tobin graduated in 1975.

MORNING Visit the Francis Ledwidge Museum
AFTERNOON Visit the Bru Na Boinne Visitors Centre

Today will be spent travelling through the Boyne valley, which is without a doubt the most historical region of the whole island. Your day will start with a visit to the Francis Ledwidge Museum & War Memorial Centre.

Moving on, you will visit Bru Na Boinne Visitors Centre and Newgrange, a UNESCO world Heritage site. The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. The mounded area is roughly one-acre, and bordered by 97 kerbstones, some of which are opulently decorated with megalithic art.

MORNING Avondale House Tour
AFTERNOON A Visit to Russborough House

This morning your tour will take you to Avondale House and Forest Park. Avondale was the birthplace and home of Charles Stewart Parnell, one of the greatest political leaders in Irish History. An audio-visual presentation on the life and times of Parnell precedes the tour of the house.

After Avondale, you will visit Russborough House. Situated in beautiful surroundings, Russborough House is one of Ireland’s finest stately homes. The art collection here includes works by Velazquez, Vermeer, Goya and Rubens. These paintings now belong to the National Gallery of Ireland, and in return for the gift the Gallery often lends paintings to the collection as temporary exhibits.

MORNING Visit to the Causey Farm

On your final day you will make your way to the Causey Farm, a working farm in County Meath, which opens its doors to visitors and allows you to see, first hand, how farmers work in Ireland. During your visit, you will also be able to experience how the Irish traditionally enjoy themselves with music, food, sports, and dance.

MORNING Depart for Dublin, and flight home.

After a final full Irish breakfast, it is time to say goodbye to Ireland and depart for Dublin airport for the group’s departure flight home.

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