Ireland: Monastic Midlands Survey (IFR)

Location: Birr, County Offaly, Ireland

Season: June 26, 2024 to August 20, 2024

Session Dates: 2 sessions in 2024 S1: June 26-July 23 S2: July 24-August 20

Application Deadline: April 1, 2023

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Institute for Field Research (IFR), Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS) & Irish Heritage School

Project Director:
Dr. Denis Shine and associate staff

Project Description:

This field school is an integral part of the major research project, the Monastic Midlands Project. It takes a holistic landscape scale approach to community based archaeological research, assessing several monasteries in the midlands region of Ireland. The program will examine the geological and glacial processes that shaped the landscape where the early saints founded their monasteries. We will then apply a range of survey techniques to interpret the sites they left behind, recording the structures, architectural fragments and grave slabs that continue to survive at these ancient monasteries.

The program focuses on sites, monuments and structures throughout the region. Each term we will focus on one or more sites in the region, such as Seir Kieran, an Early Christian monastery founded by St. Kieran, with incredible longevity of activity at the site, possibly starting as early as pre-historic times. Seir Kieran offers a unique opportunity to study in a single location, an early monastic site, a twelfth century monastery, a multi-period burial site, an Anglo-Norman castle and a medieval borough/town. The site was active throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods and remains an active place of worship to this day, which is very much ‘alive’ within the local community.

Our objective is to take a holistic approach to investigating the Monastic Midlands of Ireland to provide insight into early medieval life and society. Students will build on research conducted over the last two years and attain a fully-rounded appreciation of the entirety of the archaeological investigative process aimed at understanding the cultural heritage of the region. Please note that this is not an excavation-focused field school, rather, students will be introduced to a variety of archaeological research tools and approaches, including laboratory elements and survey techniques.

Period(s) of Occupation: Medieval

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Students are expected to stay the full length of the program.

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Students will stay with local families in County Offaly. Home Stay students live with local families, and experience true home life in provincial Ireland. Typically students will either walk to or be brought to John’s Hall daily, before availing of pre-arranged transport to site as appropriate. Students should understand that some host families may be in rural settings, requiring taxis to reach the town of Birr. While staying with homestay families, all students have access to safe, sanitary accommodation as well as laundry, showering facilities, etc. Breakfast and dinner will be provided along with a packed lunch. Our homestay network caters for all main dietary requirements (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc.); they provide a well-balanced diet of Irish cuisine, but students should anticipate trying new cuisine and not having all the items they might expect at home.

Academic Credit:
6 Semester (9 Quarter)

Contact Information:

Institute for Field Research

1855 Industrial Street, Unit 106

Los Angeles



United States

Phone: 4242091173

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