Contemporary Ireland: Politics, Economy, and Culture
Travel Dates: April 29 – May 11
Number of Students Enrolled: 19
Instructors: Don Dugi and Barbara LoMonaco
Location: Ireland

This course investigates the politics and culture of Ireland from the early 20th century until the present.; Conflict (known as the Troubles) between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the subsequent Good Friday peace agreement of 2000 is a central theme in this course, given that the Troubles have shaped the trajectory of Irish history in important ways.

Beyond political conflict, the course explores contemporary Irish culture. In the last ten years, the Republic of Ireland has become known as the “Celtic Tiger,” in that the economy has become one of the strongest in Europe. We will spend some time exploring how these economic trends impact Irish culture and Irelands role in the emerging European Union.

In addition to the study of Irish politics and economics, we will explore gender roles in Ireland (abortion is still illegal) traditional Irish music, markets, uses of social space in urban settings, and the important role of pub culture in contemporary Ireland.

Students may receive credit for an upper-level course in anthropology or political science.

Course Structure

One week (seven days) will be spent on campus in the classroom, where students will familiarize themselves with main themes in Irish history. 12 days will be spent traveling in Ireland, with 4 days in Dublin, 2 days in Belfast, 2 days in Derry, and the final 2 nights in Dublin. During our time in Ireland, our days will consist of lecture, discussion of readings, and tours.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, April 22
Introduction to the course

Ireland in Prehistory

Thursday, April 23
Overview of Ireland: Political History

20th century politics and the role of conflict

Friday, April 24
Current Economic Trends: Birth of the Celtic Tiger

Recession: The Underbelly of the Celtic Tiger

Saturday April 25
Depart for Dublin

Sunday, April 26
Arrival in Dublin

Arrive in literary Dublin, one-time home of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and W. B. Yeats! Dublin is also the setting for Joyce's Ulysses, one of the 20th century's greatest literary works. In recent years Dublin has also developed as one of Europe's busiest entertainment centers.

Walking tour of Dublin (time permitting) Join your EF Tour Director for a stroll through “Dublin's fair city.” Originally a Viking settlement, Baile Átha Cliath, Dublin's original Gaelic name, which means “town of hurdles,” is situated on the banks of the River Liffey, which divides the city north and south. This informative orientation is perfect for your first day in the historic capital of Ireland. Keep an eye out for Dublin's famous Georgian-era (18th century) architecture as you stroll through the city. Walk down the brick-lined Grafton Street, the city's premier shopping street; visit the striking greenery of St. Stephen's Green, simply called Stephen's Green by local Dubliners; and make your way through Temple Bar, Dublin's hippest neighborhood.

Overnight in Dublin

Monday April 27
Guided sightseeing of Dublin

Begin your tour of the Irish capital by viewing some of Dublin's celebrated Georgian squares. From here you will visit St. Patrick's cathedral to see the beautiful interior. You will then head past the Post Office, site of the 1916 rebellion, before continuing along the banks of the River Liffey. Continue your visit in Phoenix Park which houses the residence of the President of Ireland. Your tour of Dublin concludes with a visit to the city's renowned Trinity College, established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Here you will view the illuminated 8th century Book of Kells, written by Irish monks and found buried in the ground in 1007.

Tuesday, April 28
Easter Rising Walking Tour

This tour chronicles the 1916 independence uprising. On this tour you will learn the fascinating story of Ireland's troubled modern history.

Visit the Kilmainham Gaol

Now a national monument, Kilmainham Gaol played an important role in the story of Irish independence and Irish modern history. Many of Ireland's most important historical figures and rebellion leaders were imprisoned or killed in this jail. The Gaol's history will be put into context during your tour and visit to the museum.

Irish Music Pub Crawl

This unique pub crawl is led by professional musicians and is a great way to learn about Irish Music while enjoying the lively Temple Bar area of Dublin.

Wednesday, April 29
Visit the National Museum of Ireland

Today visit the National Museum of Ireland. The museum is dedicated to Irish art, material culture and natural history. Here you see some of the finest works of Celtic Art, including the Ardagh Chalice (though to be made in the 9th Century) and the Tara Brooch (made in about 700AD). A special exhibition is dedicated to the Easter Rising, setting out the background, documenting the events of 1916 and also the aftermath.

Free time in Dublin

Take some time to explore the city by the Liffey on your own. You may wish to re-visit Trinity College, any of the city's fine museums or the James Joyce Centre.

Thursday, April 30
Transfer to Belfast

This morning you will depart for Northern Ireland. Your first stop is Belfast home to many pivotal political events in the 20th century.

Group Leader-Arranged Political walking tour of Belfast

Today your professor has arranged a local political walking tour in Belfast. The local guides give you the inside story on Belfast and its tumultuous political history. Hear both sides of the story as a Loyalist ex-prisoner talks about his experiences on the Shankhill Road. The tour continues with narratives on the Falls Road from a republican ex-prisoner.

Free time in Belfast

Enjoy any remaining time today to explore Belfast at your own pace. You might visit Donegall Square, presided over by the white stone city hall or you could make a stop at the Belfast Castle with its huge estate rolling down the slopes of Cave Hill.

Friday, May 1
Excursion to Giant's Causeway

Journey to Ireland's northernmost point to view the amazing Giant's Causeway. This fascinating geological phenomenon comprises thousands of 55-million-year-old hexagonal basalt columns that form a honeycomb pathway into the sea. Explore rock formations including the Wishing Chair, the Punchbowl, and the Giant's Granny, and learn the legend of Finn MacCool, the Irish giant said to have built the columns so that his true love could cross the water from Scotland. Near here, the Spanish Armada's flagship Girona sank in 1588. Stop also to see the rope bridge at Ballintoy, Dunluce Castle and Glenariff Forest Park.

Saturday, May 2
Transfer to Derry

Arrive in Derry. With the partition of Ireland in 1921, this hilltop town and bustling seaport became a border city. Amelia Earhart put it on the world's radar 11 years later when she landed here on her solo flight across the Atlantic. Derry's most visibly striking historic feature is the historic walls. It is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of walled cities in Europe. The walls have been kept in a splendid state of preservation. Derry is divided physically by the river Foyle and culturally by hundreds of years of conflict by two opposing religions.

Group Leader arranged sightseeing of Derry

Today is sightseeing and history of Derry. You will visit many of the major sites and learn more about the history of the city. You might learn more about the sectarian violence that has plagued Irish history and today has spurred a long-awaited process of reconciliation. Here, 13 Catholic protesters were shot dead by British soldiers in 1972 on what has come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” Look for the poignant political murals which reflect the state of Northern Ireland's “Troubles” as well as the medieval city walls which have stood un-invaded since 1614.

Visit to the Tower Museum

Spend a few hours at the European award-winning Tower Museum at Union Hall Place. The museum's permanent exhibitions include The Story of Derry (from the Bronze Age to the modern Troubles) and An Armada Shipwreck-La Trinidad Valencera. The institution also plays host to a range of other temporary exhibitions throughout the year, with most using interactive techniques to present their stories to the public.

Visit the Museum of Free Derry

This archive focused museum offers visitors the chance to learn more about the civil rights era of the 1960s and the Free Derry/early troubles era of the 1970s.

Overnight in Derry

Sunday, May 3
Return to Dublin

Return to the capital of the Irish Republic. Free time for students

Monday, May 4
Guest Lecture by Michael Doherty: Gaelic Sports and National Identity, Dublin City University

Visit the Gaelic Athletic Museum

On your return to Dublin, visit the Gaelic Athletic Museum. Created to commemorate the GAA's contribution to Irish sporting, your visit allows you to experience this history through various exhibits and collections. After your visit to the museum, you will take a tour of the famous Croke Stadium.

Dinner is not included this evening.

Tuesday, May 5
Excursion to the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough

Enjoy your private coach as you make your way through some of the most beautiful countryside in all of Ireland. The Wicklow's are famous for their majestic valleys (Sally Gap) and glimmering lakes (Meeting of the Waters). Later in the day, enjoy your time in Glendalough, a well preserved monastic settlement ideally placed among the mountains, which is considered one Ireland's premier attractions.

Wednesday, May 6
Free Day

Thursday, May 7
Return to Lexington