Student Testimonials

What Our Students Say

I took the Introduction to Archaeological Excavation when I was trying to get a good grasp on if archaeology was for me and I loved it so much I went on to get my masters in England. The entire course from registering up to the end was super straight forward. Ireland was such an amazing country to visit and the accommodation made it super easy to get around and work as a great base for exploration (especially with the grocery store so close) that anyone could do it. Rory is an amazing teacher and the quality of the excavation and fieldtrips enhanced the overall experience to make it unforgettable. So much of what I learned came up in my masters to where I don’t think I would have done nearly so well without what I learned there. I would do it again in a heartbeat and loved every minute of it.
Teagan Z.
California State University Fresno
I took the Introduction to Archaeological Excavation in 2016 and absolutely loved it. It was so useful, and so much more fun, to put skills I'd learned in classes to actual use. Not to mention we got to learn in a gorgeous landscape, I even enjoyed the rides to and from site everyday. As an added bonus we also took trips to other Castles and sites that I know I'd never have been able to see if it hadn't been for the course. If possible, I strongly recommend taking the Architecture course as well, because I didn't and I really wish I had! Galway is a charming city with a lot to offer, there are lots of great restaurants which we found ourselves going back to again and again. It was also very easy to plan travels around Ireland with trips to the Aran Islands and Cliff of Moher being some of the highlights. Rory is not only incredibly knowledge able about archaeology and the history of the region but also provides information on culture, sports, university in Ireland and the U.K., and pretty much anything you want to know about Ireland - you might even get him to take you hiking! Field school is definitely one the most memorable experiences of my undergrad.
Jean M.
University of Alberta, Canada (BA) / Now at University of Aberdeen, UK (MA)
My participation in the Galway Archaeological Field School was the highlight of my undergraduate career. Galway is a charming city on the River Corrib and Galway Bay in western Ireland and is a wonderful place to explore on the weekends. We stayed at Gort na Coiribe, a student village that is walking distance to downtown Galway, its many shops and restaurants, the transportation system (which offers tours to places like the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands), and the local grocery store. One of my favorite experiences in Galway was the market they had on the weekends, which is a wonderful place to get local food and souvenirs. I took both the Architecture of Medieval Ireland course and the Introduction to Excavation course, and I could not have had a more positive experience. We visited so many sites and towns in Ireland, and the knowledge I have gained from visiting these areas and from listening to Rory talk about architecture, the history of Ireland, and archaeological methods has shaped my later coursework and academic interests. I am now in a master's program for public history and historic preservation, and my experiences from the Galway Archaeological Field School truly solidified my interest in historic architecture and have provided me with a great amount of experience in the field. Rory is easily one of the best educators I have ever had. He went out of his way to help answer any questions, whether they related to the coursework or not, and to ensure we had the best experience possible during our stay (including taking us to see hurling matches). It would be impossible to find a kinder and funnier director to work with. Looking back, I could not have chosen a more engaging, supportive and exciting field school -- the location is simply a plus.
Amy H.
University of South Florida, USA (BA graduate), Colorado State University, USA (MA student)
I took the Castles, Cloisters, and Churches course in 2016 while weighing postgrad options. Other than a general interest in medieval structures, I was unsure as to what my focus would be. During this field school, I was inspired by the topics discussed and questions raised while visiting the fascinating sites and I began to finally see my path. Soon after, I set off to pursue the study of archaeological structures through digital modeling at the University of York. Galway Archaeological Field School was an absolutely amazing and impactful experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone.
Bethany W.
University of York, UK
I took both the Intro to Medieval Irish Architecture and the Intro to Archaeological Excavation courses in summer 2017. Travelling to Ireland was very easy, as was all the setup that I did back in Canada - the whole registration, tuition paying, what to bring etc. was really well-laid out and simple. Definitely have all your documents showing what you're doing at hand when you go through customs as they'll want to see it. Arriving in Ireland and catching a train to Galway was remarkably easy as well (although I'd recommend the bus as well, it's not at all like the Greyhound or other bus systems in Canada that can be a little sketchy at times). Getting into Galway, Rory picked us up at the station and drove us to Gort na Coiribe, an honestly beautiful little student village with lots of maple trees hanging around. I think that the strongest point of the field school was its variability, both in the site visits in the architecture course and the techniques training in the excavation course. There's a lot of opportunity to do all the possible tasks on site and so I feel I got a very rounded education. I didn't expect to find much material in the excavation, having been told for years that archaeology is not nearly as exciting as you think it's going to be. However, we did find heaps and heaps of material (literally wheelbarrows full of oyster shells) - with a few really exciting pieces like a coin from the late 17th century and some beautiful pieces of pottery. Particularly, it's exciting to learn from someone who is as enthusiastic as Rory about what he does! As for non-archaeology bits of the trip, I'd absolutely recommend going to see a hurling game and more if you can manage it. Galway City itself is great for going out and has something for pretty much everyone - within a reasonable walking distance (about 20 min) of your accommodation as well.
Nat B
University of Manitoba, Canada.
I took the architecture course in 2016 and I never thought it was possible to pack so much fun or information into such a short amount of time. I liked the place we stayed, everyone having their own room was really nice, and it was near enough to town to enjoy pub crawls and bookshop visits on our down time. The castles and tower houses were awesome! Rory had a great selection to show us, and we got to see such a variety of sites and landscape. My classmates and I planned a weekend trip on our own to the Aran Islands (go to the Aran islands if you get the chance!). Honestly, if you have the opportunity, just take this trip. Rory is an incredible educator and even if you aren't interested in medieval architecture, you will be when he talks about it.
Eben T.
Southern Utah University, USA.
I took the Introduction to Archaeological Excavation course in 2016 and I cannot fully express how wonderful the experience was. In fact I find myself quite nostalgic towards my time spent there! Galway is such an enchanting place and it instantly erased any anxieties I had about going. It is close to so many other impressive places as well, such as the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, and Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, which accounted for day trips on our weekends off. Trust me when I say you won't want to leave! If you are nervous about getting to Galway, don’t be. Rory generously offered flight advice and subsequent transportation instructions from Dublin or Shannon’s airport’s as Galway does not have its own. He even picked us up upon our arrival into Galway! The accommodations at Gort na Coiribe were very comfortable, and its location was ideal; we were just a few minutes walk from grocery stores, a movie theatre, and downtown Galway (Charlie Byrne's Bookshop is a must!). It is clear that Rory is unquestionably passionate about Isert Kelly Castle, and more broadly, the history of Irish architecture. This course was not only informative but equally gratifying and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the fieldtrips we went on, especially since Rory was so well versed in the histories and construction of each place we visited. Having had no prior hands-on experience with excavation I feel as though I have gained the necessary skills to further my archaeological aspirations. Please do not pass up this field school.
Katie C.
MacEwan University, Canada.
I participated in the architecture course and the intro to excavation course in the summer of 2016. Both courses exceeded any expectations I had. Rory is extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and makes learning incredibly fun. Isert Kelly castle was an amazing site to have access to, and we were able to learn so much about the techniques and procedures during the excavation course. As great as that course was, the architecture course was even better. All of the sites we visited were incredible, and Rory was able to break down the architecture and history of the sites in ways that made it interesting, engaging, and understandable. I learned so much more from these two courses than I ever would have been able to in a classroom setting. The rooms at Gort na Coiribe were quite nice, and were within walking distance of many of the shops and pubs in Galway. The city of Galway felt very safe, and there was always something going on, whether it was the weekend market, the races, or going to the pubs. It was also easy to take weekend excursions to other great places in Ireland such as the Aran Islands (my favorite), the Cliffs of Moher, or Kylemore Abbey, just to name a few. Not only was the field school a great learning experience, but it also looks great if you plan on going on to grad school. Rory is a great resource for this as well, as he not only gave us a lot of information regarding the grad school process in the UK and Ireland, but he is also very accessible after field school as well for matters such as advice and letters of recommendation. I cannot recommend this field school highly enough, anyone who enrolls will learn a great deal, and have the time of their life while attending!
Andy F.
University of Nebraska, USA (BSc)/ University of Bath, UK (MSc)
I completed the introduction to medieval architecture course, introduction to excavation methods course, and advanced recoding methods course in 2016 allowing me to live and breathe the Galway life for three months. Coming from Down Under (Australia) I was not sure what to expect in a completely foreign country especially traveling from Dublin airport to Galway, however, it was so easy and simple! Having Rory being able to pick me up from the Galway bus station was great and gave me the opportunity to get to know my field director before starting any of the courses. Galway itself reminded me so much of my home town that I felt completely at home, and everyone was so friendly and nice. Being the only Australian in the fieldschool at the time lead me to believe that I would be by myself for the experience, but the friends made on the field school are irreplaceable and will last a life time. I am still in touch with the three girls who I met on my first day in Galway, and still see what everyone else is up to on Facebook and Instagram (a great way to stay in touch). The introduction to medieval architecture was really fascinating, being taken around different sites with Rory and the other students was a great experience, Rory’s knowledge about these places is really extensive and amazing! These tours were one of the highlights of my trip, and helped me to gain a better understanding of what to expect at the excavation site. The introduction to excavation methods, conducted at Isert Kelly Castle, was a fun and challenging course at the same time, it’s interesting to experience different countries excavation methods and learning the way they do things, it was great having a couple of field trips scattered throughout the course to break up the excavation, but to also gain a further understanding of what we were excavating and the lives of the people who lived in Isert Kelly Castle. The advanced recording methods course was really helpful to me, because I had only touched on recording methods briefly in my already completed bachelor degree. Learning how to record, draw and report on the excavation and Isert Kelly Castle was extremely beneficial and allowed me to take these experiences back and adapt them to my Masters when I returned home. Overall the fieldschool was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to all who are thinking of applying. The experience will stay with you for a lifetime and the methods learnt will help to further your archaeological careers and ambitions, but most importantly you will make lifelong friends that have the same interests as you and appreciate the weird Australian sense of humour. If you are still unsure about whether to join this field school and my stunning testimonial has yet to convince you, follow the archaeological fieldschool on Facebook (Galway Archaeological Field School) and on Instagram (galway_afs) and you will see how amazing it really is and experience Rory’s incredible knowledge base on medieval Irish architecture.
Tess N.
La Trobe University, Australia.