The Great Tours: Ireland and Northern Ireland

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Enough Visuals and Poor Guidebook I am also finished with the tour but from the beginning have been frustrated by the guidebook which is not very well done. There are parts of the conversation that never appear in the guidebook. As one who enjoys following the lecture with the guidebook this is frustrating. In addition there are times when the professor is discussing a painting or a part of a church or building where there are no visuals. I appreciate his informing his audience about historical backgrounds of the country. He does a great job here. He does get too involved in the writers and their works.
Date published: 2021-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I enjoyed the history in this one The lectures were well paced and passionate without overdoing it. What I appreciated most was the way that Professor Conner's seamless wove the history and natural beauty of Ireland into the tour. It's really two courses in one: a tour or Ireland and a course on Irish history. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2021-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Tour! - and History! - and Culture! This is an outstanding course. Professor Conner provides a wonderful tour of both Ireland and Northern Ireland, covering urban and rural sites with plentiful and excellent visuals of most. (Of course, I would have liked even more, but there are truly more than enough for a fine course.) And he offers a fascinating overview of the major points of Irish history and culture as well, from ancient times to the present. This is necessarily an outline, but is extremely well presented. Personally, I could have done without the final two lectures on pubs, music, film, and sport, but I'm sure many will enjoy these as well. (By the way, there is no actual music played, but our professor does sing a few lines. . . ) The course is very well organized, and Professor Connor speaks in a clear, conversational tone which held my attention throughout. I have done both hiking and road tours of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and found it to be extraordinarily beautiful and a sheer pleasure to visit. But whether or not you have been there, or ever plan to be there, this course has my highest recommendation. Enjoy!
Date published: 2021-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ten Stars TGC should have a ten star rating for courses like this one. It is that good. Professor Conner gives an excellent summary of Irish history which allows a tourist to better understand the many tourist destinations he describes. This is what good tourist guides do, of course, but I have never had a tourist guide as good as Professor Conner. In writing drafts of this review I attempted to list the highlights of the course. That turned out to be impossible because every lecture and topic was spectacular. Such a list would be too long. But let me just mention here one very useful suggestion from the Professor that shows his attention to detail: when taking a scenic drive around a particular peninsula in the West of Ireland, drive in a clockwise direction because tour buses drive in a counterclockwise direction which takes away from the pleasure of the drive if you are behind one. It is a 120 mile distance and therefore this sounds to me like excellent advice. Many years ago I briefly visited Dublin and after this course I can see that I need to go back for an extended vacation to see the entire country,  if the pandemic eases someday. In the meantime, this course is invaluable. 
Date published: 2021-01-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This "tour" is not very Great. I've progressed so far to Lecture 19, but continue to be disappointed. Very briefly, there too much talk and too few pictures. In my opinion, a tour should show the topic area, and a narrator should talk about those scenes. We should be shown described works of art and other notable items. Some history enriches a tour when matched to places. Dr. Conner is probably a fine English professor, but lacks the quality needed for a tour guide. For instance, I found his dropping his voice at the end of sentences made me think of a mortician, or somebody speaking from a pulpit. I don't think biographical details of culturally important people should be part of a tour. Finally, did he have any idea how many times he said, "... in all of Ireland"?
Date published: 2021-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! I love this course! The thing I love most about it is that the Professor provides maaaany references for further exploration. I mean he mentions many Irish poets, painters, stain glass artists, traditional music genres, and much more. I was amazed by John Butler Yeats' paintings, Seamus Heaney's poetry, and sean-nós singing. I enjoyed this exploration of Irish history and culture through the landscape. And the course is tempting me to go there. By the way, the course provides many practical information. You can see the landmarks on the map and get the information how to get there. While exploring Irish pub culture, the Professor even recommends some cool pubs to visit. Beautiful and informative.
Date published: 2021-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful and informative Love the course. Great travel guide. Makes me want to go there.
Date published: 2021-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Overview Funny, after having recently seen the France Great Tour, my reaction was, “I wish Professor Conner would do an Ireland Great Tour.” I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I came across this course in the offerings. This is a very nice course providing a fine overview of Irish culture, history, geography, etc. It is also a fine complement to Professor Conner’s “The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature.” I was fortunate enough to have seen the earlier course between my first and second visits to Ireland. That helped me put many things from my first visit, in retrospect, into context; it helped plan my second visit to Ireland. Likewise, this course helped put things from my second tour into context and is helping me plan my next trip. Given his academic expertise, practical experience in Ireland, and his love for the people and the country, one could not ask for a finer guide than Dr. Conner.
Date published: 2021-01-02
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The Great Tours: Ireland and Northern Ireland
Course Trailer
A Destination like No Other
1: A Destination like No Other

Begin your course with a look at two of Ireland’s most iconic tourist spots, the Rock of Cashel and the Guinness Brewery. These sites represent a microcosm of the fascinating story of Ireland, as well as an introduction to the people and the landscape of the Emerald Isle. Get a preview of the grand tour before you.

30 min
Prehistoric and Celtic Ireland
2: Prehistoric and Celtic Ireland

Ireland is steeped in myth, its ancient history shrouded in mystery. Investigate the origins of civilization in Ireland by visiting several ancient sites, including Newgrange and the great Hill of Tara. See what the beautiful ruins can tell us about the Celtic people, their religion, and some of the marvelous myths of Irish history.

30 min
Early Christian and Medieval Ireland
3: Early Christian and Medieval Ireland

St. Patrick is one of the greatest figures in Irish history, inextricably linked to the story of both the island and Christianity. Here, visit several important sites: Croagh Patrick in western Ireland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin town, and the Clonmacnoise monastery in the center of Ireland.

30 min
Ireland during the Protestant Ascendancy
4: Ireland during the Protestant Ascendancy

Much of Irish history involves its entanglement with Great Britain. From the Norman castles to the battlefield of Aughrim to the Georgian architecture in Dublin, the Irish landscape is imbued with relics of British imperialism. Explore the British-Irish divide, which is also a Catholic-Protestant divide.

30 min
From the Easter Rising to the Present Day
5: From the Easter Rising to the Present Day

Round out your survey of Irish history with an exploration of the 20th century. Stops on your tour include the general post office in Dublin, which played a critical role in the 1916 uprising; the town of Derry, home of the infamous Bloody Sunday tragedy; and a typical modern farmhouse in the Irish countryside.

31 min
Dublin’s Fair City
6: Dublin’s Fair City

Shift your attention to modern-day Dublin, the focus of the next several lessons. Here, you will consider the vestiges of the city’s medieval roots, including the wood quay that marks the site of the Viking invasion and St. Audoen’s Gate, a relic of the old walled city. Then, take a tour of Dublin Castle and Trinity College.

30 min
Dublin Today, South and North of the Liffey
7: Dublin Today, South and North of the Liffey

Dublin today is one of the most dynamic, cosmopolitan, and exciting cities in all of Europe, and the beauty of Dublin is that it remains a walker’s city. Join Professor Conner for a walking tour of Dublin, from St. Stephen’s Green to the Liffey River and O’Connell Bridge to the Abby Theatre, and more.

31 min
The Churches of Dublin
8: The Churches of Dublin

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Irish culture is its rich and complex religious history. Since the churches of Dublin are particularly potent examples of this characteristic, embark on a tour of Christ Church, St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, and a variety of smaller churches that are “hidden gems” of Dublin.

31 min
The Museums of Dublin
9: The Museums of Dublin

Dublin is blessed with some of the finest museums in the world, museums that purpose to specifically tell the Irish story—especially if you know what to look for. In this lesson, Professor Conner guides you through the National Museum of Ireland for Archaeology, the Chester Beatty Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery, and more.

32 min
Day Trips from Dublin
10: Day Trips from Dublin

If you have a week to spend in Dublin, your visit wouldn’t be complete without a few excursions to the countryside. Learn about the attractive village of Slane, the astonishing monastic settlement of Monasterboice, and the mysterious Wicklow Mountains, home of the unforgettable site of Glendalough.

31 min
Kilkenny, the Rock of Cashel, and Cahir
11: Kilkenny, the Rock of Cashel, and Cahir

From Dublin, Professor Conner takes you on a grand loop around Ireland, starting with the fascinating town of Kilkenny. Enjoy the breathtaking expanse of Kilkenny Castle with its strategic view of the River Nore. After touring Kilkenny, you will revisit the Rock of Cashel as well as Cahir Castle, two essential stops for the serious traveler.

30 min
Exploring Cork
12: Exploring Cork

County Cork is the southernmost county in Ireland, and the city of Cork is the third-most populous city of the island. Investigate Cork’s place in Irish history, and then take a tour of the city, from the quays along the river to the art gallery and the Custom House. Round out your visit with a study of St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral and Blarney Castle.

30 min
Killarney and the Ring of Kerry
13: Killarney and the Ring of Kerry

Continue your loop around Ireland by traveling southwest to County Kerry, known for its long history of independence and rugged pride. Here, the history is profound, but it is the landscape that is most astonishing; it’s among the most beautiful in all of Ireland. Visit the abbeys, parks, and farms of this extraordinary corner of Ireland.

30 min
The Dingle Peninsula
14: The Dingle Peninsula

Of all the magical places in Ireland, perhaps none is as special as the Dingle Peninsula, in the far west of County Kerry. Here you may find the Irish language spoken as the everyday language of commerce and conversation. The language, the poetry, the traditional music, the history, and the archaeology all make this stop an unforgettable part of any Irish journey.

32 min
North Kerry, from Tralee to the Shannon
15: North Kerry, from Tralee to the Shannon

Conclude your tour of County Kerry with an exploration of the region known as North Kerry. Sheer cliffs, rocky hikes, geological wonders, and enchanting lakes will give you the feeling of being alone in the misty deeps of the past. Professor Conner also takes you into the town of Tralee and other nearby villages.

30 min
Clare and Galway, the Heart of the West
16: Clare and Galway, the Heart of the West

County Clare and County Galway are the central counties on the western seaboard of Ireland, and they are known for their traditional Irish music, their remarkable literature, their lush greenlands, and the dramatic rocky landscapes that give such contrast and beauty to the scenery in this part of Ireland. Sites in this amazing region include the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Galway City, and more.

30 min
Traveling Ireland’s Northwest
17: Traveling Ireland’s Northwest

Venture through the sweeping country from Galway to Sligo, a region that is among the wildest and most picturesque in all of Ireland. Professor Conner ferries you out to the Aran Islands, over to the Kylemore Abbey, and on to the famous shrine to St. Mary at Knock. This lesson ends with a look at the ancient town of Sligo and rugged County Donegal.

31 min
The Ireland of W. B. Yeats
18: The Ireland of W. B. Yeats

A native of Sligo, the poet W. B. Yeats captured the spirit of Ireland like none other. Visiting some of the locations he wrote about—including the inspiration for “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and the mountain Ben Bulben—gives you a new appreciation for both the country and the poet, as well as an understanding of Yeats’s role in the Irish Revival.

33 min
The Irish Revival in Literature and Art
19: The Irish Revival in Literature and Art

The struggle for Irish independence in the early 20th century is one of the most remarkable periods in world history, accompanying a flourishing of great literature and art. In this lesson, Professor Conner introduces you to the artistic era and its key figures, including Yeats, Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, James Joyce, and many more.

34 min
James Joyce’s Ireland
20: James Joyce’s Ireland

James Joyce is the most acclaimed of all the world-famous Irish writers. He is also, perhaps, the most resolutely Irish writer who has ever lived. Meet this brilliant, eccentric writer and examine the relationship between his biography and the story of Ireland. Encounter the places he immortalized in his great work.

32 min
Experiencing Belfast
21: Experiencing Belfast

One cannot understand Ireland without understanding the North, and while Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain, it is also unmistakably Irish. After an introduction to the country and its troubled history, this lesson takes you inside the Belfast of today. Gain a visceral sense of the deep-seated conflict that underlies this beautiful and fascinating city.

33 min
Northern Ireland beyond Belfast
22: Northern Ireland beyond Belfast

While Northern Ireland retains evidence of sectarian strife, it also is home to some of the most stunning and beautiful landscapes on the island, as well as places of great historic and cultural interest. Learn about Carrickfergus Castle, traverse the Giant’s Causeway, check out the Bushmills Distillery, and reflect on the town of Derry.

33 min
Pub Life and Traditional Irish Music
23: Pub Life and Traditional Irish Music

Traditional Irish music is deeply rooted in Ireland’s past, intrinsically connected to the countryside, and known the world over. Experience Ireland’s pub life, have a drink, and encounter the music, ambience, and hospitality you can’t find anywhere else. Your pub crawl includes Dublin’s Brazen Head, O’Connor’s in the rural west, and others. Cheers!

31 min
Ireland in Film and Sport
24: Ireland in Film and Sport

Music, pubs, and poetry might be the first aspects of Irish culture that you think about, but films also embody the spirit of Ireland. See how The Quiet Man, Ryan’s Daughter, and others led to a star-studded native film industry. Your great tour concludes with a look at Irish sports, and the way Gaelic football, hurling, and golf are important to Irish culture today.

31 min
Marc C. Conner

Although the world urges us to read and love Shakespeare, his plays are difficult, demanding, strange-most of us struggle just to make sense of Shakespeare, let alone to see the many reasons why he is held in such high regard.


Princeton University


Skidmore College

About Marc C. Conner

Marc C. Conner is the President of Skidmore College. He earned degrees in English and Philosophy at the University of Washington (Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude), followed by master’s and doctorate degrees in English at Princeton University. He was previously the Jo M. and James Ballengee Professor of English at Washington and Lee University and served as provost and chief academic officer from 2016 to 2020. He also taught at Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Conner is a specialist in modern literature, particularly Irish and American literature. He is a regular presenter at the major Irish studies gatherings, including the Lady Gregory–Yeats Autumn Gathering in Galway, the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, and the Trieste Joyce School. He serves as secretary/treasurer of the Ralph Ellison Society and presents regularly at the American Literature Association annual conference. At Washington and Lee University, he created a study abroad program in Ireland, and he has led adult education programs to Ireland and other Celtic lands. He also received the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award and the Anece F. McCloud Excellence in Diversity Award.

Professor Conner’s books include The Poetry of James Joyce ReconsideredThe New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First CenturyThe Selected Letters of Ralph EllisonScreening Modern Irish Drama and FictionScreening Contemporary Irish Drama and Fiction; and Global Ralph Ellison.

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