Dublin, Ireland, Dublin Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Education Vacation: A Trek Through Ireland: Dublin to Derry

November 09, 2009
by Sarah Amandolare
In Ireland, you’ll find a mix of new and old, including an ancient walled city and a bustling modern capital. Experience the chill of a centuries-old prison, take a cliff-lined hike or soak in the scenery at the birthplace of a revered writer.

Educational Travel in Ireland

The National Educational Travel Council (NETC) leads tours of the United Kingdom, showing visitors the bookish sites and historic marvels found in Ireland, Britain and Scotland. Guided tour itineraries are posted on the NETC site, and can inspire self-guided excursions to places like Giant’s Causeway and the Old Library of Trinity College in Dublin.

Landscape and Lore at Glendalough

FindingDulcinea’s Travel Tale on Glendalough details a family trip to Glendalough National Park in County Wicklow. Learn about the Monastic City, which features tombstones from the 1700s, and read about a hike to Upper Lake, where views of the landscape below are spectacular. Photos of the lakes and lush greenery make the area come to life.

Dr. Deborah Vess, a professor of history and interdisciplinary studies at Georgia College & State University, provides even more in-depth travel and historical information on the Glendalough area. Learn the importance of graveyards in a Celtic monastery through text, photos and a quick slideshow. The site links to more information on the bell tower at Glendalough and the high crosses found at Glendalough and throughout Ireland.

A Jail Turned Museum Near Dublin

Just outside Dublin you’ll find Kilmainham Gaol, a 19th century jail known for harsh prisoner treatment. Today, the jail is a historical museum and “a chilling if poignant reminder of the Irish struggle for independence” from Britain, Irish travel site explains. The jail was the most notorious and feared building in Ireland in its day, housing the “greatest rebels,” many of whom were tortured and executed. Also referred to as the “Irish Bastille,” the prison is now the biggest unoccupied jail in Europe.

An Ancient City, A Respected Poet

Seamus Heaney, born in 1939 in County Derry, Northern Ireland, is a cultural critic, translator and teacher. Fellow poet Robert Lowell once referred to him as the “most important Irish poet since Yeats.” Read a profile of Heaney at findingDulcinea.

One of County Derry’s most stimulating areas is the ancient walled city of Londonderry. According to The Guardian, Londonderry is experiencing a cultural renaissance following decades of religious conflict during the Troubles. The city has begun to use its “dual heritage” as “Catholic and Protestant, Irish and Ulster Scots” to its advantage, instead of wallowing in conflict. “I don't think I've ever been anywhere where the past feels quite so close,” William Cook writes.

A Geological Mind-Boggler

The Giant’s Causeway resembles a fairytale creature’s playground, a huge geological conundrum of rectangular rocks sticking up from the water in North Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Causeway and coastal area was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 for its representation of "major stages of the earth’s history” and for containing “superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.”

Visit Travels in Ireland to read about a family trip to the Giant's Causeway with unique photos and geographical observations made along the coastal trail.

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