Religion in Ireland: Study Abroad

Religion in Ireland: Study Abroad March 6, 2020

I’m working on developing a new short-term study abroad course focused on religion in Ireland, from before Christianity to Brexit and the looming possibility of the revival of the troubles. I’m thinking that something like the following would work well, but having access to a wide network of faculty, present and former students, and others who’ve traveled to the Republic of Ireland and/or Northern Ireland, it seems appropriate to crowdsource this. What other places would you visit on such a trip if you were determining the itinerary? Anyplace on this provisional itinerary that you wouldn’t go, and if so, where would you recommend instead of the destination listed here?

Religion in Ireland Short-Term Study Abroar Itinerary

Days 1-2 Dublin

Trinity College Library

The classic home of the Book of Kells, famous illustrated biblical manuscripts, Trinity College provides many more opportunities to consider the connection between church, politics, and education in Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

James Joyce Center

Maynooth College

Opportunity to learn about the state of seminary training and theological study in the Irish Catholic Church and how priests understand their role in relation to the political realities of the divided island.

Day 3  travel northward


Perhaps the most famous pre-Christian religious site in Ireland, it is older than the pyramids in Egypt, and although we will not be there at the right time of year to witness it, the site is aligned so that its main corridor is illuminated by the sun on the winter solstice.

Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre

The Battle of the Boyne continues to be commemorated as part of Protestant identity in Northern Ireland. It was a conflict between two claimants to the British throne, the result of which secured Protestant rule.

Monasterboice High Crosses

There are many of these tall stone crosses in Ireland, but this one on the site of a 10th century monastery is a particularly good example, as well as being convenient to our itinerary.

Day 4 Armagh and vicinity

Crossfire Trust (peacemaking center)

St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral

The two cathedrals in the site associated with St. Patrick reflect the historic religious divisions in Ireland and the contested legacy of the island’s most famous saint.

Days 5-6 Belfast

Belfast City Hall

Queen’s University Belfast

Belfast Bible College

Black Taxi Tour (a drive around the city with a social justice focus)

Falls Road (location of famous murals in Catholic neighborhood)

Corrymeela Community (peacemaking endeavor)

Day 7 Giant’s Causeway

Seamus Heaney HomePlace (museum dedicated to poet who lived on both sides of border)

Giant’s Causeway (incredible natural rock formation)

Day 8 Derry/Londonderry

The controversy over the very name of the city reflects the divisions in the country. A historically divided community, it provides an opportunity to get a close look at partitioning walls and efforts to reach across them.

Day 9 Co. Mayo

Croagh Patrick (mountain, pilgrimage site)

Kylemore Abbey

Day 10 Knock Shrine

Like Lourdes and Medjugorje, somewhat better-known sites of Marian devotion and pilgrimage, Knock provides an opportunity to witness an important element of Catholic religiosity in its traditional form.

Day 11 Aran Islands via Rossaveal ferry

Na Seacht dTeampaill (The Seven Churches)

Dún Aonghasa

An opportunity to see the combination of breathtaking natural beauty, pre-Christian religious site, and the history of Christian monasticism all in one amazing location.

Day 12 Galway City


Burren, Poulnabrone Dolmen (Neolithic stone structures, distinctive natural formations)

Day 13 Final full day

Innisfallen Abbey

Rock of Cashel

End at Dublin

Day 14 Departure


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