Ireland High School Expedition

Ireland’s rolling green landscapes and cliff-lined coasts have long inspired storytellers. From the cobblestoned streets of Dublin to the otherworldly landscapes of the Aran Islands, delve into Ireland’s past, where Celtic myths meet a tumultuous history of invasion and revolution. Explore the Irish penchant for storytelling and the lively musical traditions of Galway and the western coast.

July 11 – July 24, 2019
Airfare is not included. We have arranged a round-trip group flight between New York and Dublin.

Trip Highlights

  • Go on photo and writing assignments amid the mystical landscapes of the remote Aran Islands.
  • Delve into the literary history of Dublin while following in the footsteps of celebrated authors like James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde.
  • Kick up your heels at a traditional Irish step-dancing class, and join lively trad sessions in Galway, a hub for traditional Irish music.
  • Organize a show in Dublin to share the photography, poetry, and prose you create during your trip.

Itinerary | 14 days

Days 1-4

On the streets of Dublin, revolutionaries 
once rose up to end 500 years of British rule, and impassioned writers penned works that would become classics. The city that once saw so much strife is now a spirited hub of Irish culture, increasingly infused with an international vibe. Grab your notebook or your camera and head out to capture the pulse of Dublin. Photograph buskers strumming on Grafton Street and stroll in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and W. B. Yeats, all of whom lived on beautiful Merrion Square.

View Images

Take in the sights and sounds of the city
 as you explore by bike along neighborhood lanes and historic canals. Visit Dublin City Gallery or the Dublin Writers Museum, and take in a show at the Abbey Theatre, founded by Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904. Kick up your heels at a traditional Irish step-dancing class. Take portraits of locals with Dublin Castle as your backdrop, or interview street vendors along O’Connell Street. Walk the cobblestoned lanes of Temple Bar, relax on the green at Trinity College, and explore the revived Docklands neighborhood along the River Liffey.

For a change of pace, take a day trip to the misty, emerald green hills of County Wicklow, or catch a train to the beaches and charming fishing villages that speckle the coast outside Dublin.

Days 5-7

Travel west from Dublin, passing through boglands and rolling green hills and stopping to photograph winding rivers and ancient monasteries along the way. Artsy, seaside Galway—sometimes called Ireland's most Irish city—is our base on the dramatic west coast. From here, explore the Gaeltacht, where Ireland's traditional ways of life hold strong and Irish (Gaelic) is still the language of the land. Together with your peers, transform your exploration into poetry and prose, or hone your photography skills as you capture the beautiful and complex spirit of Galway and its people. Listen to live Irish music, replete with the traditional sounds of fiddles and spoons; draft a series of profiles on local shopkeepers; or photograph everyday life on the streets of Galway and the quays along the River Corrib. Take in the films, art exhibits, live music, and theater of the Galway International Arts Festival.

Venture into the countryside to explore village life and take in Ireland’s stunning natural beauty. Visit the Cliffs of Moher, chat with locals over a traditional Irish breakfast, and wander past thatched-roof homes lining cobblestoned streets.

Pull Quote
Ireland is a land of simple, yet stunning beauty. Lands that are rocky, wild, and harsh have created a culture of people that are warm and stoic, with a gentle sense of humor.
Melissa Farlow, National Geographic Expert

Days 8-11

Hop a ferry for a four-day photo and writing assignment on the magical Aran Islands, where writers such as J. M. Synge found inspiration among Celtic ruins and barren expanses of limestone. Walk atop craggy cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic and visit the ruins of ancient fortresses, castles, and churches to capture a sense of place in your writing or photography. Talk to farmers, fishermen, and innkeepers about their daily lives. Let the mystical atmosphere of the islands fuel your imagination as we work to put the finishing touches on our projects.

Days 12-14

Return to Dublin for a student-organized show of the photography, poetry, and prose created during your expedition. Celebrate your accomplishments with your group before flying home the following day.

Our high school expeditions are for students in grades 9-12, and offer opportunities to get out into the field and discover fascinating destinations across the globe through the lens of an On Assignment project. Each expedition offers a choice of two or three areas of focus, such as photography, geology, or wildlife conservation. Students travel alongside a team of highly-qualified trip leaders—college graduates with extensive experience in the field, who love working with students. A National Geographic expert joins for a portion of the trip (four to eight days) to share their insights, and inspire students with their passion for the work they do and the places they will discover. The group size ranges between 14 and 28 participants, and the student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.
In Dublin, we stay in dormitory-style accommodations north of the River Liffey, a short walk from the bustle of the city's center. During our time on the western coast, we stay in small hostels and university housing.

Melissa Farlow, Writer and Photographer

Meet Our Experts

Melissa Farlow is known for her personal approach when photographing people, and has worked on over 20 projects for National Geographic in South America, Quebec, Alaska, the Alps and throughout the American West. She has also traveled throughout and photographed Ireland on various assignments. From an early age, Melissa had a passion for horses and she recently co-produced Wild at Heart, a young adult book about mustangs and the teens who are trying to save them and preserve America's wild horse legacy. Melissa was awarded a Pulitzer Prize with the staff of the Louisville Courier-Journal and her work has been published in National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, LIFE, and in over seventy books. Melissa has photographed throughout Ireland on a book assignment for TIME. Melissa will join the group in Galway and on the Aran Islands.

On Assignment Projects

Tell stories of the Emerald Isle through photography assignments in the field. Bring Irish landscapes to life as you train your lens on towering cliffs and crashing waves along the western coast. Take portraits of sheep farmers on Inishmore and street musicians in Galway. Master depth of field and framing as you document a day in the life of a Dubliner, or explore the intersection of past and the present in a photo essay about a fishing family in Howth. There is a supplemental fee of $150 for this On Assignment project.
Tap into Ireland’s storytelling legacy during field-based writing workshops. Review a restaurant serving traditional Irish dishes, or let your imagination fly in a story about fictional residents living behind one of Dublin’s famous painted doors. Draft a piece of historical fiction on monks who once lived at Clonmacnoise abbey, capture telling details in a travel narrative about your time in Galway, or set a poem in the Aran Islands’ lunar-like landscape.