Guided Academic University Study/Service Tours to Ireland

Academic University Tours to Ireland for Alumni or Students

We offer two exceptional university study or study/service tours (described below) for students, or alumni or other adult groups interested in an academic tour.  Once you review your tour of choice, we invite you to notify us of your interest through our CONTACT page, or call 612.616.3782.

Travelers purchase their own flights after the tour has been filled. Note that departure and arrival dates are not the same when you secure an overnight flight, as you arrive the day after you leave the USA.

The cost of an Irish Byways tour makes possible an uncommon cultural experience into the heart of Ireland. We employ brilliant guides as well as the best of local musicians, authentic storytellers, artists, artisans, historians and authors.  Travelers are offered more relaxed “off-the-bus” adventure in contrast to fast-paced and lower priced site-seeing tours.  Rather than a different hotel every night we extend our stay at several quality B&Bs set in beautiful Irish landscape with day trips out from these central locations.  A review of our itinerary details the vast richness of our tours.

“LANDSCAPE & LORE, MUSIC & MYTH”, our first academic tour for alumni or students, is set in the west of Ireland, and explores natural and cultural heritage through archaeology, ecology, lore, music and myth.

This 10-day tour is designed for the travel program of North American universities. It combines in-depth study for credit with the more restful requirements of non-credit travelers. We are based in the town of Clifden, Connemara, in County Galway. Carefully structured day trips throughout the region include sites important for their cultural and natural heritage.  Instructor Dave Hogan, one of Ireland’s most qualified guides, is an ecologist and wildlife biologist with a passionate interest in the history of the Irish landscape as well as the early history and mythology of Ireland.  He is a fluent Irish speaker and recorded musician having contributed to several music CD’s.

The aim of the tour is to explore human connection to the landscape during 6,000 years of occupation.  Many have found this also awakens a personal re-connection with the landscape.  Travelers will visit ancient and historical sites seldom seen. They will be introduced to a variety of landscape features, including blanket bog and the burren region, holy wells, Bronze Age stone circles, and ring forts. Travels include two boat trips to remote islands with ancient monastic sites, leisurely time in the city of Galway, Kylemore Abbey and Gardens, Maamturk Mountains, Connemara National Park, 13th Century Cong Abbey, Cliffs of Moher, Brigit’s Garden and more!  Special events include a Music Night with festive dinner (meet the musicians and dancers) and a Banquet in Bunratty Castle.  Each day’s program can be arranged to allow for class time as well as giving ample time to reflect and to walk back roads on your own.

The study or study/service tour can be tailored to meet the requirements of individual university departments or faculty.  We provide access to archaeology, ecology, geography and history; early Christianity, mythology and folklore. Together we search for the physical and cultural shadows in the landscape that will unlock the rich tapestry that is the heritage of the west of Ireland.


  • Notify us of your interest on our CONTACT page or by phone 612.616.3782.  We welcome your inquiries and referrals!
  • After we notify you regarding your reserved place on our tour, you may then purchase your plane ticket.
  • At least two months before the tour departs, all travelers complete the Irish Byways multi-page TRAVELER INFORMATION FORM.

    The following TESTIMONIAL by Dr. Barbara Boyd, Professor, University of Oklahoma:

    The trip to Ireland was one of those magical, mystical events that happens perhaps once in a lifetime.  Our tour group consisted of students and faculty from our university who came together to experience the landscape, the music, the myths and the people of Ireland.  Each site offered itself to us as a gift of ancient story, etching deep memories in our minds and haunting music in our hearts.  The entire experience was a poem, as windswept as the Cliffs of Moher and as whimsical as the medieval banquet on our final night.

    What makes this trip exceptional are the people who lead you through the enchanting landscapes: your guides.  Talented, spiritually aware, and personable, the guides make the trip the information gleaned from them is fascinating and current.  They are intelligent and truly sensitive to the Irish environment.  The musicians are superb, some of the very best Ireland has to offer.  If this trip is remotely possible for you, then take it and find your way into a journey into the heart of the Irish culture, history and folk arts.

    View Photos of Past Tours in the Gallery.

    “PILGRIMAGE TO THE OTHERWORLD”, our second academic tour for alumni or students, is offered by group tour request only.  This tour is an exploration into how Irish mythology and sacred landscape can shape our environmental, philosophical and spiritual relationships with the modern world in which we live. The study or study/service tour is pertinent to a variety of academic areas--Celtic studies, religion and spirituality, environmental studies, psychology, and ethics

    This is an experiential tour in which, on the very ground of sacred sites, both Christian and pre-Christian, we delve into such questions as: How do we look upon the landscape as mythic or sacred? How do we expand our fields of perception? How do we connect to the landscape, and what does it ask of us? What relevance does mythology have for us today? We are then led to explore the meaning of pilgrimage: What transforms a journey into a pilgrimage? What compels us to become pilgrims? How can pilgrimage become part of our daily lives? These questions are particularly relevant today in the changing landscape we find ourselves in and our desire to find a different way of relating to the Earth.

    We will begin our ten-day exploration at the Hill of Uisneach, seat of the goddess �ri�, after whom Ireland is named, and is the site of a 4,500-year-old fire ritual. We will then wander through a landscape of stone circles and passage tombs, of monastic ruins and Celtic crosses, of fairy forts and holy wells, including those dedicated to Brigit, goddess and saint, bridge between the pre-Christian and Christian worlds. We will travel by boat to a remote island and follow thousands of years of pilgrims� footsteps up a sacred mountain pathway. We will immerse ourselves in the music, art and stories of the land, and visit the site of the mythological battle between the Tuatha de Danann, the fairy folk, and the Fir Bolg, people of the earth. We will walk the landscape of Mebh, sovereign goddess of Connaught and visit sites of some of the most extensive raths and passage tombs in Ireland. Finally, we will visit the Grange Lios, Ireland�s largest stone circle, surrounded by the gentle beauty of the hills and lake of �ine, sovereign goddess of Munster.

Our Music