Our three week Easter (Spring) break from classes at our host institution in Belfast, Queen's University Belfast, was full of great opportunities for our students to explore Northern
Ireland and Europe. With easy access to several airports, Belfast provided an
excellent opportunity to get the most from your European adventure!
Besides travelling to other European destinations our CIEE students also took part in more excursions and exclusive seminars with key figures in the community in Belfast.
Our group met with Councillor Claire Hanna, from the Social Democratic and Labour Party, who invited our students to Belfast City Hall for an exclusive chance to explore the politics
of non-violent Irish nationalism. Our CIEE students engaged with Claire in a
lively discussion during this unique occasion where a fantastic meeting-of-minds
occurred. Together the group explored the potential positive future of Belfast
and Northern Ireland.
Belfast City Hall - built in 1906
This was followed by another CIEE exclusive event where our students met with a representative from the South and West Action Trust, Trevor Greer. Trevor, who hails from a
loyalist Protestant working class area in South Belfast, spoke candidly with
the CIEE students providing them with a rare insight behind the public
narrative of the British identity in Northern Ireland.
Our students also explored Dublin during the St Patrick’s day parade! As part of
our expenses paid program our CIEE group travelled to the capitol city of the
emerald isle to explore how culture and identity is marketed to an outside
audience. It wasn’t all tough classwork, though! Our group took the opportunity
to explore and enjoy the city landscape during the festive day – we even watched
the wonderful parade!
CIEE Students during an excursion to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day Parade
One would imagine these excursions were enough! Certainly not with CIEE as our
group of students also participated in two separate overnight trips to the East
of Ireland and Derry city (all included in the program fee)!
During our first overnight trip to the East of Ireland, our CIEE students enjoyed the
luxury of a private bus where we explored the wonderful heritages sites of
Newgrange (a burial site older than the Pyramids at Giza), the Battle of the
Boyne site (the largest battle in Irish history, occurred in 1690), and Kilmainham
Gaol (one of the most politically relevant prisons in Irish and British history).
Student’s also visited the National History and Archaeology Museum of Ireland
where the witnessed first-hand the world famous ‘Bog Bodies’ – human remains that
are traced back to the Iron Age. In the evening we enjoyed a full three course
meal in a wonderful traditional Irish restaurant-pub, only to retire in a
wonderful centrally located hotel in Dublin city centre.
Our Students "Jump With Joy" before the historic Newgrange Mound
The following week our group went on their second overnight trip to the city of
Derry. Derry, a city that traces its charter back to the 1600s, is a walled
city with two names – Derry and Londonderry. During our visit we explored the Bogside
district and Free Derry corner. It was only metres from this site where the
infamous shootings on Bloody Sunday occurred in 1972. Our students visited the
Museum of Free Derry – a locally run museum designed to tell the story of the
victims from that day.
From there our group visited the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the Strand Road Police Station. Our exceptional hosts welcomed our group into a seminar room, where officers of all ranks spoke candidly about their jobs, their roles within society, and their positivity for
Having been presented with a tour of the equipment and vehicles used by the PSNI, our group left with great excitement to visit the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) museum. The museum is housed in the headquarters of the ABOD who are one of the large Protestant fraternities in Northern Ireland. Students also visited the first ever purpose built Protestant
Cathedral in the world – right in the heart of Derry city! St. Columb’s
cathedral, in its grand position in the city centre, towers above the city.
Within the cathedral the students toured the various displays, including the
remnants of flags from the US military forces that were stationed in the city
during World War II. Again, to unwind and relax another wonderful dinner in a
fantastic hotel was enjoyed – all to be followed by a full Irish breakfast the
Now we are back to regular class scheduling in our host institution, Queen’s
University Belfast. Although, regular doesn’t mean mundane in Belfast! The
university is hosting a series of exciting events from the academic to the
entertaining – and all of this is available to our CIEE students!
For more information and up to date ‘tweets’, check out our Facebook (facebook.com/CIEENorthernIreland)
and Twitter (@CIEEBelfast) sites
Until next time!