University of Mount Olive Honors Students Visit Ireland

MOUNT OLIVE- Every year University of Mount Olive Honors Program participants have the opportunity to travel abroad. This year’s participants spent eight days touring Ireland and soaking in all that “The Emerald Isle” had to offer.

To prepare for the journey, the Honors students spent the past year researching their destination of choice preparing them to not only enjoy their trip, but to be intellectually involved and informed.

The MOC group left from Charlotte and traveled overnight to Dublin, the capitol city of Ireland. Upon their arrival, the honor students enjoyed a day of leisure and accommodation in Dublin, a town full of history and one that is inhabited 1.2 million people, a quarter of Ireland’s population.

Jelena Atkins, a senior biology major from Fayetteville, North Carolina expressed that the group could not have chosen a better time to be in Dublin.

“Dublin’s streets were flooded with anxious people awaiting the arrival of the Queen of England and President Obama.  Their presence made this trip a historical and memorable time in Ireland.”

Other stops included St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College, two of the most renowned landmarks in all of Ireland. Day three began with a trip through the Phoenix Park, which houses the home of Ireland’s President Mary McAleese. The group ended their day at the medieval town of Waterford after a trip to Kilkenny where they witnessed the historical Kilkenny Castle.

Day four included a visit to the 15th-century Blarney Castle, where the Honors group had the opportunity to climb the steps of the castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. The world famous “Ring of Kerry” was the focus of day five. The group spent the entire day touring the landmark which is located in Killarney National Park and spans 179 kilometers of road in the shape of a ring. The Ring of Kerry is home to some of the finest beaches and colorful architecture in all of Ireland.

Christopher Allen, senior fine arts major from Kenly, NC, commented on the serenity of the Ring of Kerry saying, “The tour offered a great contrast between the hustle and bustle of city life in Dublin and the quaint life of small villages . . . It felt as if we time traveled and stepped back in to Ireland’s past by way of the ancient castles and magnificent Cathedrals or ‘CaTEEdrals’ as the Irish pronounce it.”

After resting for the night in Killarney, the Honors group tackled the winds atop of the Cliffs of Moher, an impressive wall of rock that towers some 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

Audrey Owens, senior business administration major from Wilson, said that the winds were blowing 60 mph and that “we could barely walk around without bumping in to each other.”

The high winds did not hinder the experience for Owens though. “Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina every summer does not even come close to seeing it in Ireland 700 feet up in the air,” Owens said, “It was an experience I will never forget and a sign of God’s miraculous handiwork.”

As the trip began to wind down, the Honors students spent their last day touring the colorful town of Galway to view the Lynch Stone and Galway Cathedral before returning to Dublin to enjoy the Dublin nightlife. The next morning the group packed up and headed back to the States.

Reflecting on the Ireland experience and the impact it had on him as a whole, University of Mount Olive graduate and Graphic Design Associate Matt Stevens remarked, “Although the history, sights, and attractions were enjoyable, it was my interactions with people that I’ll most remember. This trip gave me an opportunity to connect with and share unique experiences with students and faculty of University of Mount Olive, and a chance to meet and interact with the locals. These are the memories that I will cherish most.”

University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville.  For more information, visit