For some time we have been working with Professor Kipton Jensen at Morehouse College, and Consul General of Ireland in Atlanta, Mr. Shane Stephens, to make a program happen between Morehouse and ISAI. The opportunity came for a pilot program to join in with the Drew University Peace Studies program, and so we welcomed Evan, Laphon, Mark, E.G, Harold, Jeremy, Parker and Rahmel to Ireland. It was ISAI’s first time to welcome a HBC, and a real learning experience to work with these amazing Morehouse students.
On our first day, we had a wonderful keynote talk by author and activist Don Mullan on Frederick Douglass, Daniel O’Connell, and the connection between Irish and African-American Civil Rights campaigns. Don, an eyewitness to Bloody Sunday, and an activist for many civil rights campaigns gave a moving keynote speech about activism and effect.
On day 2, we travelled from Dublin to Donegal via the Lough Crew Cairns, a group of megalithic tombs dating back to the 4th millennium BC. After a bracing hike to this awesome historical site, we visited @loughcrewmegacentre for some witches’ broth with the lovely Niall and Susan. We continued into Northern Ireland via Enniskillen, a quick stop on the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way to see the Fairy Bridges, and finally to our home in Bundoran for the next few days.
Day 3‘s lecture was ‘From a Kingdom to a Colony’, and tracked the transitions in Irish culture- from pre-Christian to Christian, and from Gaelic to Colonization. Our site visits to Ballyshannon and Donegal Castle, former home of the O’Donnells, prompted great discussions about comparative elements of the narrative of colonization. Later that evening, Professor Jonathan Golden of Drew University chaired a workshop on Peace, Conflict and Social Justice .
On day 4, our class covered Colonization, Poverty, Famine and Emigration, and our site visits included the Workhouse at Ballyshannon, Enniskillen Castle & Museum ( thank you Catherine for the excellent tour) and the Enniskillen Cenotaph. That evening, Professor Jensen of Morehouse College chaired an excellent discussion on many of the themes that had come up during the classes and site visits.
On day 5, our class was on the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement and our field trip was to the Derry Bogside, the Museum of Free Derry (thank you John Kelly), a Tour of the Bogside Murals and a visit to the City Walls, Peace Bridge and Guild Hall.
On day 6, we took some time out from the classroom to do what must be done in Bundoran- learn to surf! Fair play to our brave fifteen who took to the waves- in Donegal-in January! This was followed by a wonderful hike up to the cliffs at Sliabh Liag, when the weather behaved, and allowed us to witness this amazing view in all her glory. And as if this wasn’t enough of the best of Donegal, we had a live performance by Donegal band The Henry Girls, joined on stage by Bundoran’s own Johnny Gallagher!
On day 7, January 10, we travelled east to Belfast -and how lucky to be there in such an important day! We began with a morning workshop at the East Belfast Mission with Rev. Harold Good, an eminent Irish Methodist who played a vital role in the Northern Ireland peace process. Then we travelled to the Irish Secretariat in Belfast, thanks to Georgia Knapp and team at the Secretariat of Ireland. By the end of the day, there was the announcement that Northern Ireland Assembly will reconvene today – great news and an honour to meet many of those involved.
On our final day of J-term program we paid visit to the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum and a final farewell dinner at the Old Storehouse in Temple Bar.
Thank you Professor Jensen and Morehouse students for your contribution to this program.