Ireland and the United Kingdom

Faculty: Holly Shelton and Nahanni Freeman
Class meeting time: Tuesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Trip Dates: May, 2025

Ireland Castle


This trip centralizes Celtic culture, faith traditions, and nature as we explore peace, justice, and reconciliation. We will hike our way through the beauty of Ireland and neighboring areas in the Anglo-Celtic Isles (geographically known as the British Isles), and the trip will include options for other outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, bouldering, and horseback riding. We’ll learn, experience, and identify the impacts of historic culture and faith traditions on modern lived experiences: from ancient pre-Christian traditions to Celtic Christian spirituality and even more recent conflicts with political religious identities. The Anglo-Celtic Isles have experienced various waves of settlement and colonization, and Celtic peoples and practices have been alternately celebrated, suppressed, or syncretized. We will bear witness to significant natural/cultural sites relating to peace, justice, and reconciliation while using Celtic reflective practices to help observe and process our cross-cultural experiences.

We plan to visit the Republic of Ireland (Éire), Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (Cyrmu), exploring a mix of larger cities, smaller towns, and national/regional/country parks. Starting in Dublin with its live music scene and nearby cultural/historic sites like Newgrange and Glendalough, we’ll follow a generally coastal loop through all four Éire provinces, which come from former Irish kingdoms: Leinster, Munster, Connaught, and Ulster. To the south we’ll kayak by night in the bioluminescent waters of Lough Hyne, visit standing stones, and pay respects at a famine memorial mass grave. To the west we’ll walk the Cliffs of Moher and bike the Aran Islands along the “Wild Atlantic Way”. To the northwest we’ll hike Croagh Patrick pilgrimage site and surf some beachtown waves with an option for horseback riding. To the north we’ll stroll atop the Derry city walls and traverse rope suspension bridges and the Giant’s Causeway. We’ll visit Belfast with its murals depicting the legacy of “The Troubles” (1968-1998), a period of armed political/religious conflict in Northern Ireland. Beyond this general loop of Ireland, we’ll take two ferry excursions to neighboring regions with Celtic traditions in the UK (Holyhead, Wales for coastal orienteering and Glasgow, Scotland to visit a herd of highland cattle and try lawn bowling). If flight schedules allow, we may also visit the Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin), a self-governing Celtic nation in the Irish sea. According to the Manx, the summit of their Snaefell Mountain holds a view of six kingdoms: Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and Heaven. If flights don’t align for Isle of Man, we’ll space out our days elsewhere. 

We plan to attend music, theater, religious services, and/or other cultural events as they are available along the route. Our road-trip-style pace will be steady, but not strenuous between locations/activities, and we’ve built in opportunities for rest and self-exploration in the cities.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1 Flight to Dublin. (Depending on flight/ferry schedule, overnight in Dublin).
Day 2 Ferry to Holyhead, Wales. Explore standing stones & lighthouse. Overnight in Holyhead.
Day 3 Half day “coasteering” adventure. Explore Anglesey/Breakwater. Overnight in Holyhead.
Day 4

Ferry to Dublin. Trip to Newgrange ancient burial site & Hill of Tara. Overnight in Dublin

Day 5

Day trip to hike Glendalough & Wicklow Mountains National Park (option: bouldering). 

Travel to Skibbereen. Overnight in Skibbereen.

Day 6

Visit standing stones & hike Lough Hyne. Night Kayaking. Overnight in Skibbereen.

Day 7

Travel to Doolin. Hike the Cliffs of Moher. Ferry to Inishmore. Overnight on Inishmore.

Day 8 Explore Inishmore by bike. Ferry back to Doolin. Travel to Galway. Overnight in Galway.
Day 9

Explore Galway including beaches, cathedral, and Latin Quarter. Overnight in Galway.

Day 10

Hike Connemara National Park. Overnight (in a former Quaker Monastery) in Letterfrak.

Day 11

Hike Croagh Patrick mountain. Visit megalithic Carrowmore. Overnight in Bundoran.

Day 12

Surfing lesson (option: horseback riding). Overnight in Bundoran.

Day 13

Morning: Travel to Derry, walk atop the city walls/peace bridge and see Bogside murals. Afternoon: Visit Giant’s Causeway. Travel to Belfast. Overnight in Belfast.

Day 14

Explore Belfast including murals on Shankill Rd and Falls Rd. Overnight in Belfast.

Day 15

Travel to Glasgow, Scotland. Visit the necropolis or try bagpipe. Overnight in Glasgow.

Day 16

Explore Glasgow including Pollock Country Park’s highland cattle and Kellingrove Park’s lawn bowling. Overnight in Glasgow.

Day 17

Possible flight to Isle of Man. Explore Castletown & Douglas. Overnight in Castletown.

Day 18

Explore Isle of Man including Snaefell Mountain & glen(s). Overnight in Castletown.

Day 19 Flight to Dublin. Flight to Portland.

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