Global Field Study: The Beauty and Boldness of Ireland

“The west of Ireland is a magical place: you come upon places so remote and mystifying, so wind-lashed and sea-tossed, so rocky or so green they overwhelm your senses. Nature fills the silence with the crash and foaming of Atlantic waves…it makes you aware of your littleness, quietening you in a way nothing else can.” (Niall Williams and Christine Breen, 1986)

The windswept hillsides and rugged coastlines of County Clare, Ireland set the scene for the Spring 2017 Global Field Study course, Inspired by the View: The Beauty and Boldness of Ireland. Prof. Maryann Worrell ’05 and Dr. Jeanne Buckley, Library Associate Dean and adjunct faculty member—both of Irish descent—are leading this semester-long course, which will culminate with a four-week adventure to Ballyvaughan and the Burren College of Art.

Twelve students, consisting of sophomores, juniors, and seniors from various majors, will be traveling to the west of Ireland. Throughout the semester at Arcadia, students have been developing skills to rediscover childlike wonder, sharpen their five senses, find inspiration in the everyday, research land art and eco-artists, and study the history, geological makeup, and community of the west of Ireland. Students will use this information during the class’s travels in Ireland to develop a body of work (art, writing, or research), which will ultimately be displayed in a gallery setting.

The inspiration for this course came from a desire to share the unique karst landscape of this region, its remote location surrounded by hills on Galway Bay, its sense of community, and its inspiring, deep-rooted history. The course includes overnight trips to Doolin (at the base of the Cliffs of Moher) and the remote Aran Islands. Students will take day trips to Aillwee and Doolin caves, the Cliffs, Black Head loop hiking trails, abbeys and holy wells, and the home of W.B. Yeats, among other places. A substantial amount of time has also been set aside for students to create work in their studios at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan.

Both Worrell and Buckley are excited to introduce students to the creative forces present in Ireland and to immerse themselves in their own creative work. Buckley will be writing fiction based on the women in her family and the connection between the west of Ireland and Portland, Maine. Worrell will be re-experiencing the region’s “slower” lifestyle that gives everyone an opportunity to pause.

The stillness in the west of Ireland is inexplicable. The wind is cleansing and—if you are open—it will tell you things about the world and about yourself. Prof. Worrell and Dr. Buckley encourage students to let go, disconnect from the modern world, and discover this ancient land. The Burren College of Art’s motto is “Time, Space and Inspiration.” What more could you ask for?

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