Study Abroad: Ireland

From May 12-26, a group of NYSID students went on a study abroad trip to Ireland for the “Aoibhneas na hÉireann” (Treasures of Ireland): Irish Art, Design, and Culture in Dublin, Kilkenny, and Cork course taught by Dr.Jennifer Goff; NYSID instructor, Fubright Scholar, and curator of the Eileen Gray collection at the National Museum of IrelandSee photos here! “Ireland is a unique study abroad location because the material culture of this island pre-dates Stonehenge in England and the pyramids in Egypt,” says Dr. Goff. “In addition to this, our contemporary designers, such as Joseph Walsh and leading architects such as Grafton Design Studios are also doing award winning, ground breaking work.”

The two-week trip was scheduled chronologically and designed to looked at Ireland's design and architecture history from the Stone Age to present day and to encompass a wide variety to engage each student's interest and passion. Students began their journey by visiting the Neolithic tombs of Newgrange and early Christian dwellings and continued on to explore Ireland’s Romanesque, Gothic, and Neo-Gothic cathedrals. An exploration of 18th Century Georgian Ireland included visits to Palladian and Rococo mansions, a favorite of which was Castletown. “Castletown Manor was truly breathtaking,” says recent BFA graduate Emily Kent. “Each room we entered was so grand and uniquely decorated to suit a lavish 18th century lifestyle. We learned that Lady Louisa, who was a mere 15 years of age at the time, was to credit for the manor's design. At fifteen, I was far from the mature sophistication Louisa demonstrated!”

Students also participated in a variety of tours and lectures with some of the country’s leading design experts, academics, conservators, and curators. Perhaps one of the most exclusive experiences of the trip was the opportunity to gain behind-the-scenes access to the Eileen Gray Collection and archive. “After learning about and falling in love with Eileen Gray's designs, it was surreal to go to the National Museum of Ireland and see her work first hand.” Kent says. “We got to hold Eileen's design tools and see rare objects. It really made her work come alive for me and had made everything I've learned this past semester even more impactful.”

Over the course of the trip, Dr. Goff’s intention focused on widening each student's perspective in relation to design and architecture and encouraging them to explore the underlying narratives woven throughout the history of Irish design. “I want to show them the subtle variances in national and international styles, to develop an awareness of the materials and pieces they choose for their interiors.” She says. “Most of all, I want to to make them see that design can be seeped in history, stories, and culture, from the past to the present. Every object tells a story.”

Phyllis Greer