Since our last newsletter we have enjoyed a fantastic time of learning and experience at the CIEE study centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Our group have engaged in a number of wonderful learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom setting. As part of the excursions for our CIEE students we have visited a number of key and fascinating sites, including the great burial mound of Newgrange. The mound is one of the oldest human constructions standing today. Often associated with the Celtic era in popular discourse, this site pre-dates Celtic Ireland; the mound is believed to have been constructed in the Neolithic age in Ireland.
Our CIEE group hear from the Newgrange tour guide before entering the mound.
Surrounding the mound are replicas of ancient buildings.
From there our group visited the significant historical site of Oldbridge, where the Battle of the Boyne occurred in 1690. This battle, between the Protestant King William and Catholic King James, secured the Protestant ascendency in Ireland. It is this hierarchical division in Irish society that has shaped the contemporary history of Belfast.
Our CIEE group depart via the front of the Georgian house after their tour of the Battle of the Boyne site.
Afterwards we travelled to Dublin city centre for our overnight excursion. On arrival we enjoyed an exclusive CIEE walking tour of Dublin city centre, uncovering the rich history and living traditions of the urban landscape which inspired the writings of James Joyce. After a traditional Irish evening meal in a local restaurant, our group enjoyed the cultural landscape of Temple Bar district, taking in the sights, sounds, music and dance the city has to offer.
The city soundscape offers great music to our visiting students!
At the entry to St. Stephen's Green stands the arch memorial to Irish men from Dublin that fought in the British Army.
The wonderful pedestrian streets of Dublin.
The final course of a traditional Irish dinner is always sweet!
After dinner, music and dance is in abundance in Dublin's Temple Bar.
For our second day in Dublin we made our way to Kilmainham Gaol (after a large Irish Breakfast) to realise the impact of one building on the history of a nation. Kilmainham Gaol, since it’s opening in the 1700s, has witnessed the trials and tribulations of the birth of the Irish nation. From being over populated during the great famine, to operating as a holding centre before forced emigration (indentured servitude), to finally holding prisoner some of the most significant figures in Irish political history Kilmainham is a vital experience when seeking to understand Ireland. Kilmainham is a source a deep reflection, as well as critical learning, as students ponder what does prison offer societies throughout the world? What is the nature of punishment?
The halls of Kilmainham Gaol have locked away much of Ireland's recent history.
Our group is all smiles knowing our trip to prison is brief!
The 'Escape Gate' takes the name from one of the rare prison breaks.
Afterwards our group visited the National Archaeology Museum where the famous ‘bog bodies’ are on display for the public. This museum hosts a wealth of materials from ancient Ireland, tracing through the various invasions to the formation of modern Ireland.
Dublin was not our only excursion since our last newsletter. Our students have also visited the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, and Carrickfergus Castle as part of our day tour to the north coast. The epic world famous scenery leaves one in no doubt as to why numerous US film and television productions are choosing Belfast to create their work.
Carrickfergus Castle is one of the great Norman castles in Ireland.
Crossing the rope bridge at Carrick-a-rede.
On a clear weather day, Scotland is easily seen from the north Antrim coastline.
The Giant's Causeway is a fantastic formation of cooled volvanic rock.
Climbing the rock formations is a must for so many CIEE students!
Our group also visited Derry city to partake in a series of exclusive CIEE tours in the city. First, we started with a tour of the Bogside district. It was here in 1969 where riots erupted, leading to the decades of conflict that transformed Northern Ireland. In the Bogside our group visited the Museum of Free Derry, a museum with a political motivation to highlight the injustice of the Bloody Sunday massacre, and the subsequent political whitewash of the event. Later our group toured the 400 year old city walls, culminating in a tour of the Tower Museum (the civic museum of Derry) where students learned of the ancient and modern history of Derry city. As we prepared to depart the soundscape of the city was engulfed with the sound of traditional music as the pan-Celtic festival was taking place.
CIEE students standing before the famous mural of Free Derry
An interpretation of Picasso's famous work on the side of the Museum of Free Ferry.
As in Belfast, murals in Derry recall history for a community.
The Walker Memorial stands in ruin after a bomb attack during the Troubles.
St. Augustine's Church is believed to be built on the site of the first Christian church in Derry.
The Pan Celtic festival hosts traditional performances before the walls in Derry city
Now we are entering the final stage of our semester in Belfast, and in the spring term our students will sit summer exams. Before then we will have more CIEE exclusive interviews with local representatives, as well as a farewell event for our group.
If you wish to see more images from our semester, check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CIEENorthernIreland
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Until next time!