When it comes to studying abroad, English majors often gravitate, naturally, towards England, with the hope of studying great literature in the country where it was written. But students often forget that Ireland has a renowned literary history. Many prominent authors — including James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats, and Jonathan Swift — come from Ireland. They have produced countless works that have captured imaginations across the globe, from Dracula to Gulliver’s Travels. If you want to read and experience incredible stories in their native country, consider these six reasons why literary-rich Ireland is a great place to study literature abroad:
Numerous Programs Offer Concentrations In English.
With its vibrant literary culture, there are tons of educational opportunities for English majors in Ireland. A number of study abroad organizations offer classes in Irish literature, and several companies, such as Globalinks and IES Abroad allow you to choose Irish literature as a concentration in their Irish Studies programs. If your emphasis is in drama, IES Abroad lets students study theatre at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin (they even have a month-long Intensive Conservatory Training program in January). Some companies also help English majors find internships abroad in Dublin. Internships for international students include assisting public relations agencies or local TV and radio stations, to working with theater education programs.
Enjoy A Variety Of Literary Cultural Activities.
English majors studying abroad in Ireland can add to their classroom lessons by participating in countless literature-related cultural activities, particularly in Dublin. See plays by Irish writers at the historic Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre. Have a pint at the same pubs frequented by Dublin’s most famous writers while on a literary pub crawl. Appreciate the beautifully-crafted Book of Kells, a ninth-century gospel manuscript that’s on display at the Old Library at Trinity College. Explore the brilliant and eclectic collections of author artifacts and rare books at both the Dublin Writers Museum and the Chester Beatty Library. And don’t miss out on the annual world-famous Bloomsday celebration on June 16, created in honor of Joyce’s iconic novel Ulysses; festivities include public readings, dramatizations, and more!
Travel The Country On Literary Excursions.
Nothing brings your favorite stories to life quite like visiting the places that inspired them, and there are plenty of locations throughout Dublin and the rest of the Emerald Isle that English majors in Ireland will love exploring. Visit the James Joyce Centre in the heart of Dublin to learn more about the life and works of literary giant. Stroll around Limerick, the birthplace of internationally acclaimed author Frank McCourt, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his memoir, Angela’s Ashes. There, you can see the Frank McCourt Museum, which is located in his old primary school, to hear about his life and his works. Go on a pilgrimage to County Sligo and the coastal town of Sandymount, the birthplace of Yeats, to view the same landscapes that inspired his renowned poetry.
Visit Celebrated Literature Landmarks.
Immerse yourself in some of your favorite Irish texts by seeing the places featured in those stories. Go ahead — buy a bar of lemon soap from Sweny’s Pharmacy and then grab lunch at Davy Byrne’s pub, just like Leopold Bloom did in Joyce’s Ulysses. Listen to the bells at St. George’s Church, mentioned in Joyce’s short story collection Dubliners.
Explore Famous Sites Associated With Dublin’s Greatest Authors.
Get to know your favorite Dublin authors by checking out significant spots from their lives, from where they grew up to where they wrote their most famous works. Head to Merrion Square to see the childhood home of Oscar Wilde, best known as the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, and don’t the miss the statue honoring him in the adjacent park. Wander around St. Ann’s Church, where Bram Stoker, legendary author of Dracula, was married. Pay your respects to Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, by visiting his gravesite at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Swift served as Dean for more than 30 years.
Improve Your Own Writing Skills Through Workshops And Festivals.
If you’re an English major, chances are you love writing as much as reading, and there are lots of opportunities for writers to learn more about their craft while studying literature in Dublin. Many Ireland study abroad programs offer classes in creative writing, but another great way to get feedback is through writing workshops. If you’re taking your fall semester abroad in Dublin, take part in the Bram Stoker Festival in October. This includes exhibitions, walking tours, literary roundtables, and Stoker-inspired theatre. If you’re studying in Dublin in the springtime, check out the Dublin Writers Festival, usually held in May. This literary festival brings together new and established writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and more to share and discuss their works through readings, debates, workshops, and performances.