IFR: Ireland Field Schools - Cork, Galway, Spike Island & more
92% Rating
(5 Reviews)

IFR: Ireland Field Schools - Cork, Galway, Spike Island & more

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Earn 8 semester credits with an experience that will serve you throughout your academic career.
Internal scholarships available, with more scholarship listings provided that can be applied to our programs.
47 unique field schools spanning 22 countries are available across disciplines presented by the preeminent experts in their fields.
Find out what you can gain from hands-on learning outside the traditional classroom setting.

The Institute for Field Research would like to present our rich and varied collection of field programs in Ireland. These field programs are located across Ireland and focus on archaeology ranging from the Norman invasion to the Historical Era.

Ireland is a beautiful country known for it’s green countryside and rocky seaside. Come experience Ireland’s rich and welcoming culture by attending a field school in Birr, Ferrycarrig (winter and summer programs available,) Inishbofin, or the infamous Irish Alcatraz, Spike Island!

  • ireland
  • europe
  • archaeology
  • excavation
  • historical
Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Subject Areas
Art History
Conservation and Preservation
European Studies
Degree Level
Host Family
Travel Insurance
Application Fee
Starting Price
Price Details
Scholarships available
Other Locations
Wexford, Inishbofin, Birr

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 5 reviews
  • Academics 8.6
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
Default avatar

A Summer I'll Never Forget

The Spike Island archaeological field school was by far one of the best experiences I have ever had! During the excavation, I was engaged in every aspect of the work, learning invaluable skills that I will carry on throughout my career. The supervisors were supportive and challenging, encouraging us as we completed our work. The island and surrounding scenery is beautiful and engaging, I couldn't help but look on in awe some days on my way to the excavation sites. And as far as my fellow students go, I can honestly say I have never been a part of such an amazing group of people before. I have made friends for life that I will carry in my heart, no matter where I go. If you are looking for a one of a kind experience, then I definitely suggest the Spike Island field school.

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change anything in this program, I would honestly make it longer. I seriously could have spent more time learning from these great people, it was tough to go home.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Great experience

I had a great time at Blackfriary, and the only criticisms I have are organisational ones that I think come from the fact they hadn't dealt with such a large group of students on site before.

The accommodation was much better than anything I expected, in luxurious self-contained housing next to the golf course with access to hotel facilities including a pool and sauna. The food was usual group catering, over boiled meat and veg. There is a large supermarket about 30min walk away, and a gas station 10min away.

The supervisors were on the whole wonderful, relaxed and helpful. My fellow students were some of the best people I've ever met and made the experience all the better. Beware that close quarters over long weeks of hard work will cause friction - but there was always an opportunity to get privacy and decompress.

I loved the time on site as it was some of the first real field experience I had, and it was a relaxed and supportive environment to learn in. The excursions off site tied in well to what we learnt, and offered a real sense of context.

I do wish that the emphasis on human burials in the description of the program had been fulfilled. They rotated us around the site in week-long chunks. It was luck as to who got assigned a burial when the rotation came, and if you got one you had a full week on it. If there was no burial available you missed out. I wasn't lucky. I was upset about that, as working on human remains in situ was the reason I chose the program.

I think this was the result of the big group I was in, but they could have rotated people through burials in 3 or 4 day chunks to give more people an opportunity to work on the thing that had attracted most of us to the program.

Overall, this is a wonderful, comfortable introduction to field archaeology in a country with a rich history - both in terms of human occupation and in archaeology. The supervisors are experienced and helpful, and the experience well worth it.

How can this program be improved?

The division of work could be restructured to give everyone a chance at working on a burial.

Response from Institute for Field Research

We are glad that you found a supportive learning environment at the Ireland - Blackfriary field school, Jess. It is unfortunate that you were unable to participate in the excavation of a burial. Part of the excitement of archaeology is never really knowing what you will find, and this occasionally leads to disappointment. We are happy that you found the experience worth it overall.

-- The IFR Team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Probably the best way to be introduced to fieldwork

The staff are not only dedicated to doing quality work, but also to ensuring that students understand not only the how of excavation but also the why. It's an extremely supportive environment, and you're encouraged to ask questions. Days start early and end late, but you get breaks throughout the day and are well fed. You also get to work under a variety of supervisors, as you get rotated around trenches (usually weekly) so you get to experience a range of different soils, trenches, and artifacts. There's lecture and lab, even though you're living on an island, and IFR students are required to write a short paper during your time there. Weekends are free time to do as you please, and Friday's are half days so you have time to take your laundry to the mainland. Cobh is a beautiful town, and is readily accessible to Cork which has plenty to do and experience.

How can this program be improved?

A little more lab analysis would have been nice; however, due to the program being on an island only accessible by ferry, this restriction is understandable.

Response from Institute for Field Research

Thank you for your review, Erica! We pride ourselves on providing our students with high quality research environments where they can learn and grow as scholars.

-- The IFR Team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Fun in Trim

Academic rigor was not nearly as difficult as I faced in my 4 year university program but focused on independent research and a presentation. The staff did meet with us multiple times to ensure that we were on the right path. Majority of the staff was very knowledgeable and extremely willing to teach and connect with students. I was greatly disappointed that they did not ensure that every student got the chance to work on a burial. Part of this was due to luck and timing, but based on their emphasis of the biological aspect of archeology I expected to leave having worked on a burial. I did however get to handle human remains but very disappointed with my biological week. Food was terrible through the ifr program but the people in my group were amazing. You get a fish bowl effect as you literally spend all your time with your group for five weeks, but still fun and most everyone in the program were extremely close by the end of five weeks. I personally had a problem with one of the teachers. For whatever reason, this particular grad student who was supervising us in a cutting took a dislike to me personally and continually criticized everything I did in a non-constructive manner nor would she show any of us what to do. She even tried to have the site supervisor reassign me to post-ex (washing bones) for the week due to a non-pressing medical reason and you could tell she thoroughly disliked dealing with inexperienced students. We all questioned why she was working at a teaching field school. Other students also had problems with this particular grad student. All other supervisors and program leaders were absolutely wonderful, extremely supportive and eager to teach. I would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in Irish archaeology! Be prepared to do manual labor and realize this is not for those wanting to travel everyday. The work days are long and it is near impossible to leave Trim during the work week. Weekend are free so you can travel then. Trim is wonderful. They have delicious food in town. be prepared to learn a lot, explore trim castle, be apart of some really amazing archaeology and grow to love the sheep on site!

How can this program be improved?

The food through the IFR program was terrible. They tried to work with us, but by the end we were getting three of the same dinner every week. Most of us resorted to cooking together and getting supplemental food.

Response from Institute for Field Research

Beth, we are happy that you were able to conduct independent research as a part of this program, as it is a part of our mission to expose students to the research process. It is impressive that despite the difficulties you had with a challenging supervisor you were able to connect with the rest of the supportive staff on the project. Thank you for your honest review! We are constantly improving our programs based on our students' feedback. We hope you'll look back fondly on exploring Trim castle for years to come.

-- The IFR Team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Experience of a Life Time

The Spike Island Field School is most wonderful learning experience for a person interested in the criminal justice system and archaeology. With bioarcheology being the main focus, students would learn first hand experience of removing artifacts from the context (matrix or "dirt"), without damaging anything fragile. The learning experience is great as well as meeting new people. From USA to Canada to France and of course Ireland, you manage to learn from different perspectives and gain friends a long the way. Besides You live with them on the Island for the whole month. (Weekends you are able to leave the Island to venture off and enjoy the country). The faculty is great with offering you any answers to your questions even if you are new or old to anthropology or archaeology.

How can this program be improved?

I honestly have nothing to add to change the program. I actually enjoyed my time.

Response from Institute for Field Research

Thank you for your review, Sereen! Thanks to great students like you, we can continue offering wonderful learning experiences.

-- The IFR Team

Yes, I recommend

About Institute for Field Research

The Institute for Field Research (IFR) was created in March 2011 by a group of leading academic archaeologists. Operating as an independent, nonprofit academic organization has allowed us to break down traditional institutional barriers and deliver...