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Graduate School in Ireland

by Ashleigh Ehnts, '08


During my senior year at Juniata while deciding what I wanted to do upon graduation, I knew that I did not want to immediately pursue my initial goal to teach.  Throughout my senior year I worked with Jim Tuten on an independent study comparing Ireland and the American South.  Given my long-term interest in Irish culture and history I decided to pursue a Masters in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

The MA program is interdisciplinary, allowing me to take courses outside of my history background and widening my knowledge of Irish history and culture.  My courses included Irish literature in both the English and Irish language as well as a course in the Irish language itself, concentrating primarily on the translation of printed material.  In late August I completed my Masters thesis entitled “The Liberator and the Don Quixote of Slavery: Daniel O’Connell, John Mitchel, Slavery and Public Opinion,” which focused on the opposing views of slavery of two prominent and well-known Irishmen.

Despite the hard work that is demanded from a Masters Program, I felt that my time at Juniata served me well and more than prepared me for this experience. While one of the scariest, yet best decisions that I have made, earning a Masters Degree in a foreign country was a rewarding and challenging.  The MA in Irish Studies Program at NUIG has strengthened me academically, helping to improve my research skills and exposing me to disciplines outside of my own, helping to strengthen my overall understanding of Irish history, literature, culture, and attitudes. Coming to Ireland afforded me the opportunity not just to meet new people, but to experience and better understand the culture of a country other than my own.  Furthermore, this past year has given me an opportunity to travel throughout Europe that I may not otherwise have been given. Overall, I can’t think of one experience that has been more rewarding than another, coming to Ireland has given me the opportunity to meet new people, visit new places, and grow as an individual and student.