September 2011 issue

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Welcoming Ireland

There’s a lot more to Ireland than just shamrocks, leprechauns and Guinness. Topping numerous lists in various travel guides, the real Ireland promises a whole lot more. Nicola Hancox finds out more.

Oozing warmth, charm and character, no one need doubt the true extent of Irish hospitality. According to Eve Brosseau, Marketing Executive at London College Dublin, “Our cities and towns are more intimate than other English-speaking countries, and the atmosphere is generally quite easy-going and welcoming.”

Quoting the famous Irish saying: ‘A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet’, Lisa Bartsch, Managing Director at the Slaney Language Centre in Wexford, further enthuses, “Almost every man or woman [in Ireland] enjoys chatting with neighbours, friends and visitors…” which she says, lends itself well to students looking to practise their language skills outside of the classroom environment.

As a former language student, Masa Kitaya, Marketing Support at Atlantic Language Galway, has experienced this warm-heartedness firsthand. Attending several language schools and spending a good few years in England as a student, Kitaya says his interest in the education industry, its international environment and indeed Ireland, led to him securing a role at the school. “I was ready to part with the moody weather in [England] and when I saw the advertisement, I naturally fell for the chance, although Ireland was still an unknown country for me just like for anyone from Japan.” As well as the aforementioned welcoming nature of the Irish people, Kitaya lists a number of other reasons why students may choose to study in Ireland including the magnificent, unspoiled scenery, the safe and secure environment and its geographical location on the fringe of Europe.

Situated in Galway on Ireland’s west coast, Atlantic Language Galway encourages students to tap into the “authentic Celtic culture” that has helped shape the country and indeed the county’s landscape and people. Students can propel themselves back in time by visiting Connemara National Park, less than 100 kilometres from the city centre, which, says Kitaya, is an area of “organic beauty”. Admission is free and students can take one of four walking trails that will let them enjoy natural environments including mountains, heaths and woodland. Evidence of earlier civilisations is hauntingly present in the megalithic tombs, dating back over 4,000 years, which are also a must-visit.

Paddy O’Farrell, Assistant Director of Studies at the Galway Cultural Institute, vouches that the nearby landscape “begs to be explored.” In fact, he adds, “There’s nothing like horse riding along the beach in Connemara,” something the school can organise.

He also suggests students hop on the ferry to the Aran Islands. “It’s like entering a different world,” he marvels. The three islands, based at the mouth of Galway Bay, are home to several Iron Age forts such as Dun Aengus – a world heritage site – that sits high on a cliff top overlooking the choppy Atlantic. The community that has chosen to populate the islands are equally as interesting, says O’Farrell. “But that’s just one of many possibilities,” he adds. “There’s the cliffs of Moher, Clonmacnoise, the Ceide Fields and a host of other sites of natural beauty and historical significance,” he advises. If students fancy something a little more adventurous they can try a hand at surfing, sailing or falconry, he adds.

Ronan McGrath from the Limerick International Study Centre is also complimentary of Ireland’s west coast. “Every town is full of pubs where the people are welcoming and traditional Irish music can be heard,” he says. Both Burren National Park – a personal favourite of McGrath’s – and Ireland’s third largest lake, Lough Derg, are close by and easily accessible, says McGrath. Having relocated to Limerick two years ago, McGrath notes that it was the local surf that proved a big draw. “Basically, I moved here because I wanted to explore this part of Ireland, especially the nearby surfing beaches.” The two-mile stretch of beach in Lehinch, roughly 57 kilometres away from the city centre, caters for novices, intermediate and more experienced surfers. As well as drinking a nice pint of Guinness on a fine afternoon, McGrath also suggests students explore the west coast from top (Donegal) to bottom (Kerry).

The school is conveniently located right next door to the University of Limerick, so international students can immerse themselves in the student way of life. With a beautiful campus, McGrath notes that students have access to some great amenities such as a swimming pool, a theatre and plenty of pubs.

Over on the east coast, County Wexford boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland, if not the world, asserts Bartsch. “A walk on any of these beaches is the best medicine for anybody leading a stressful or hectic life,” she says. The city’s friendly people make it easy for students to make friends too and locals are often curious to find out more about life in the students’ home country. “The more you talk, the better your English, so don’t be shy!” enthuses Bartsch.

Having worked at the Slaney Language Centre in Wexford for 12 years, Bartsch notes that, “Working with international students is in a sense like travelling without moving,” and she relates how she too is learning all the time. “Teaching English here has broadened my mind to many new things and enabled me to understand and discover so much about people, culture, customs and places.”

Among her personal recommendations, Bartsch cites the Hook Peninsula and Hook Head. “Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in the world, located in a wild, rugged location,” and she relates that it’s a great place to visit no matter the weather. In the summer she suggests students take a boat to the Saltee Islands. To get a real taste of Irish culture, however, Bartsch says you can’t beat a spot of hurling – an outdoor sport that combines the skills of baseball, hockey, and lacrosse.

And so to the country capital...while rich in history and tradition, Brosseau notes that there is also a modern side to the city of Dublin. Lots of people from all parts of the world have chosen to live and work here she says, so students will find it quite international and cosmopolitan. “I’m constantly amazed at the variety of interesting people from far flung places that I meet here,” she says. And unlike other capital cities around the world, it’s not too big either. “As a city space, Dublin is a joy to know – it’s compact, full of character, with diverse architectural styles from various historical eras standing side-by-side,” she relates.

Students can opt for the classics at the Chester Beatty Library – which hosts a rich collection of manuscripts, prints and early printed books from a variety of different eras and countries – or err on the side of the contemporary by visiting the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Students can also familiarise themselves with a grislier side of Dublin’s history by going to the famous Kilmainham Gaol – a former prison, turned museum. Admission is two euros for students and includes a guided tour. “The permanent Bog Bodies exhibition in the Museum of Archaeology and History on Kildare Street is striking,” adds Brosseau. “As is the exhibition on the history of Christchurch Cathedral and Viking Dublin which is housed in the cathedral’s crypt.”

Having worked at the Centre of English Studies for 15 years, Marketing Director, Jonathan Quinn, has plenty of tips of where and how students can spend their free time. And although fond of the local museums, concerts and attractions in and around the city centre, escaping to the coast offers some respite from city life. “I love going out to Howth, a small fishing port 13 kilometres north of Dublin, where I sail and have a small motor boat,” he says. Full of plenty of great pubs and restaurants, the small village can get a little busy, he concedes. However, he adds the views of Ireland Eye – a small uninhabited island off of the coast – and Lambay Island are charming. A free, organised trip to Howth forms part of the school’s summer programming, says Quinn.

Agent viewpoint

Marcel Rüfenacht, Pro Linguis, Switzerland
“Swiss people seek far more remote destinations where they don’t share classes with too many other Swiss. Besides Dublin, Pro Linguis clients mainly love Galway on the west coast. Swiss people seek a good mix of rural life and the buzzing city. Ireland covers both.”

Allan Mitelmao, Just Intercambios, Brazil
“Ireland became a very popular destination for Brazilians, and the fact that Brazilians are allowed to work while studying, that it is not necessary to apply for a visa and it is possible to find high quality schools at a fair price [are the main reasons]. Of course Dublin is the number one choice, but we are often suggesting Galway and Cork.”

Adeline Lee, Bloomsbury Knowledge, China
“Clients choose to study in Ireland because it is the most friendly country in the world. Dublin is the most popular because it’s the capital city and the most well-known among the students and parents in Asia. Most of my clients choose Limerick because they want to experience the rural life and enjoy the beautiful scenery in the Shannon region.”

Cristina Majocchi, Viva srl, Italy
“In the past it has always been a second choice after England because of lower prices compared to the UK. Nowadays clients have started appreciating Ireland for its identity, quality of schools and accommodation. Dublin [is the most popular destination] for sure. For a lot of people it’s their first experience of Ireland so they prefer to start in the capital.”

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.






Britannia Student Services  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

Association of British Language Schools  
English Australia  
International House World Organisation  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  
The English Network  

British Boarding Schools Workshop   

Cambridge Esol  
Pearson Education  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
Trinity College London  

Dr. Walter GmbH  
Guard. Me  

Western Union  

Malta Tourism Authority  

St Giles International  
Twin Group  

Ability Education  
Academies Australasia  
Bond University  
Carrick Institute of Education  
English Language & Foundation Studies Centre  
Impact English College  
Language Studies International  
Lexis Engilsh  
Melbourne Language Centre  
Pacific Gateway International College  
Perth Education City  
Shafston International College  
Southbank Institute of TAFE  
Think: Education Group  
University of New South Wales  
University of Tasmania  


CERAN Lingua International  

Access International English Language Centre   
Apex Language & Career College   
Banff Education Centre  
Bond International College/ Bond Language Centre  
Cornerstone Academic College   
East Coast School of Languages  
English School of Canada  
Eurocentres Canada  
Fanshawe College  
GEOS International Schools North America  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
International Language School of the YMCAs Quebec  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Luther College High School  
LSC Language Studies Canada  
Language Studies International  
Niagara College  
North Island College  
Queen's School of English  
University Of Victoria  
Saint Mary's University  
Vancouver English Centre  
ABC Languages  
Absolutely English Young Learners  
Angel Language Academy  
Bell International  
Cambridge Education Group - HO  
Camp Beaumont  
English Language Centre Brighton & Hove  
Hampstead School of English  
International House London  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Liverpool Community College  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Ovingdean Hall College  
King's Colleges  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Spinnaker College  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
SUL Language Schools  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  

Accent Francais  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
Le Franc Parler   
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

Sprachcaffe Languages Plus  

Alpha College of English  
Atlantic Language Galway  
Cork English Academy83  
Emerald Cultural Institute  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Language & Business College Ireland  

Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre  
English Language Academy  
inlingua Malta  

Eurocentres Cape Town  

Cape English Language School  
EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
International House Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
Jeffrey's Bay Language School  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  

International House - Sevilla CLIC  
Inturjoven Spanish Courses   
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  
Pamplona Learning Spanish Institute  

ELS Language Centers  
STS Student Travel Schools  
University of Arizona  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  

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