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Clarke group visits Ireland and Great Britain

Ireland TripThe week after graduation in May, while most faculty and students pack their bags and look forward to a relaxing summer, 23 Clarke students, faculty, staff and family members headed off to an educational journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Led by faculty members Terry McGovern and Louise Kames, the group spent 11 days visiting iconic sites in Ireland, Wales and England. 

After having spent the spring semester studying artistic, cultural, social and economic aspects of Ireland and Great Britain, the group started off with a visit to Killarney, Ireland, and a trip around the Ring of Kerry, located on the southwest coast of Ireland. The Ring of Kerry included stops at the Bog Village museum, a living museum demonstrating early 19th Century Irish village life. The group also spent time learning about Ireland’s sheep trade from a senior shepherd and his amazing dogs. They saw a demonstration of the dogs’ ability to herd sheep from far distances and separate the group of sheep in singles and doubles. 

From there the group went on to Dublin, Ireland, by way of the Blarney Castle where many from Clarke kissed the famed Blarney stone. In Dublin the group did a city tour including a stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a factory tour of Guinness Brewery, a visit to Trinity College where they saw the famous Book of Kells, and visited the St. Michan’s church where the original founding women of Clarke University served before coming to America. While in Dublin, the group also enjoyed a night of Irish story-telling and traditional music at the Brazen Head Pub, the oldest pub in Ireland. Following a 75-mile ferry ride across the Irish Sea, the group landed in Wales and visited Snowdonia National Park. 

The last part of the trip included time in London, and a visit to Stonehenge and Bath, England. While in London, travelers experienced many of London’s prominent sites including riding on the Eye of London, visiting numerous museums such at Tate Modern, the National Gallery, the V&A museum, the Natural History museum, the British Museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace. Some explored beyond London with visits to Windsor Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, and the Harry Potter film sets at Warner Brother’s Studio near London. 

When asked what she most enjoyed about travel experience, Clarke student Katie Scarlett commented “Many of my favorite memories come from our time in London. I loved the city and all the sights! Being able to see all the various landmarks of London, including Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben, was a lot of fun. I also loved how easy it was to navigate the city with the Tube. I had such an amazing experience on this trip and cannot wait to go back again on my own!” 

This is Dr. McGovern’s second trip abroad with students. 

“Regardless of your major, exploring and learning about the world where students will live and work is vital for anyone’s education,” McGovern said. “Students’ time at university goes by fast and it only happens once, so I highly encourage them to take advantage of opportunities abroad while at university. I’ve never heard an alum complain about traveling or studying abroad, but many have told me of their regret for not doing it while they were a student.” 

McGovern’s goal is to have 219 Clarke students travel abroad by 2019 and hopes that by spending a couple of weeks in a foreign country, more students will decide to spend an entire semester abroad through Clarke’s study abroad program. 

Next year’s group will visit Switzerland, Italy, and France with visits to Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Verona, Florence, Venice and Cinque Terra, Italy, the French Mediterranean coast to include time in Nice and Èze, France, with the final days spent in Paris. Contact McGovern if interested in joining next year’s trip.

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