Trip Highlights

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 James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde.
  • Kick up your heels at an 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.
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



Ireland’s rolling green landscapes and cliff-lined coasts have long inspired storytellers. From the cobblestoned streets of Dublin to the other-worldly 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.

Days 1-4: Dublin, Ireland

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.

Take in the sights and sounds of the city on a bike tour along its historic lanes and 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: Galway

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.

Days 8-11: The Aran Islands

Hop on 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: Dublin

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.