Roots run deep in the land of saints and scholars

Ireland certainly punches above its weight on the global stage, with a population of 6.4 million, a land mass of just 32,595 sq miles and a diaspora around the world which in the U.S. alone amounts to 34.5 million people. This small country’s literary, artistic, cultural, historical and political influence stretches far and wide and its friendly, witty people fervently keep their cultures and traditions alive and well.

Whether you are searching for a sense of your Irish roots or are already captivated by the beauty and atmosphere of this country, it offers highly enriching learning opportunities for study abroad both inside the classroom and outside.

Contemporary Ireland is a multicultural and multilingual country with an open economy which, although it has suffered in the recession of recent years, is rebuilding itself. People speak English, but the native Irish or Gaelic language is also widely understood and used daily in certain Gaeltacht areas of the country. You’ll find the Irish not only love to talk, they love to banter and have ‘the craic’ (fun) whenever they can.

Although the country has modernized greatly, it still retains its charm and warm welcome - stroll along a stunning deserted beach, stop into a community pub for a quiet yarn with the locals, hike the rugged, lonely wilderness of the bog or listen to live music. The slower pace of life here will allow you to curl up with the poetry of Yeats by a roaring fire or explore the historical artefacts from Viking life or indeed meet up with friends for a Gaelic football match. There is so much to see and do here you’ll always feel fulfilled.

The landscapes of Ireland are legendary and yes, there are more than 40 shades of green in this beautiful land - much of which must be due to the temperate climate and the generous amount of rain that falls year-round. From the dramatic Cliffs of Moher to the hills of Donegal and from the Ring of Kerry to the Glens of Antrim - you’re spoiled for choice.

Ireland’s history is one of prehistoric wonders, celtic myth, monastic scholarship, artistic and literary exploration, invasions, conflict and resolution. The country has been partitioned since the end of the Anglo-Irish war in 1921, when the six counties of Northern Ireland were retained under British rule and the remaining 26 counties gained independence as the Republic of Ireland. So you’ll experience both British and Irish traditions, and although both parts of Ireland are in the European Union, you’ll use the euro currency in the Republic and pounds sterling in the North.

Often Irish students go home for the weekend which may give you impetus to visit other places around the country or indeed around Europe. Budget flights to European capitals are cheap, quick and convenient. Getting around is easy, so students usually make the most of it.

If you think it's a long time to be gone, realize that by the end you'll wish it was longer. ”

Jennifer Reese

Kenyon College Student, Burren College of Art

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