Project Description

In light of a changing COVID-19 landscape, including the rapid spread of more contagious Delta and Omicron variants, and in accordance with the recommendation of national medical experts, IFR policy requires that prior to traveling, all field school students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 AND receive a booster shot, if eligible. If you intend to participate in an IFR program this summer, we strongly encourage you to schedule your vaccination appointment as soon as possible.

All IFR field school applicants should familiarize themselves with IFR COVID-19 Practices before beginning the enrollment process. Program logistics are subject to change as health and risk management experts provide new recommendations and best practices. Each field school syllabus includes specific information about COVID-19 as related to travel regulations and recommendations, accommodations, local protocols, face mask policy and managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks.

You may want to refer to the following websites to stay informed of COVID-19 case numbers and regulations/policies for Ireland:


Disert is a ritual pilgrim landscape in Co. Donegal that includes a series of early ecclesiastical enclosures, penitential cairns, a holy well dedicated to St. Colmcille (also known as St. Columba), a post-medieval altar and a cillín (children’s graveyard). Exciting evidence from last year’s excavation shows that there was prehistoric activity thousands of years before the reputed founding of the site by St Colmcille in the sixth century AD. Disert is still important today for religious devotion and for pilgrims seeking miraculous cures for medical conditions.

This spectacular area lies at the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains, some 10km from Donegal Town and the Wild Atlantic Way. Rural sites such as this are poorly understood and the excavation will offer the opportunity to examine the role of Disert in both early and more recent Irish Christianity. 2019 was the first year of excavation and yielded considerable evidence for nineteenth and early twentieth century lazy-bed agriculture and dairying in and around this formerly sacred land. This shed light on population growth and the need for land at this time, which led to the expansion of settlement into marginal areas. Intriguingly, the excavation also yielded prehistoric stone tools, providing the first evidence for pre-Christian activity at Disert. In 2021, the ditch surrounding the early medieval ecclesiastical enclosure was partly excavated, yielding evidence for a number of hearths and craftworking activity while partial excavation of a cairn adjacent to the holy well revealed that it originally consisted of two separate cairns – one circular and one rectangular in form.

In 2022, we aim to complete the excavation of the cairn and holy well that form part of the pilgrimage ritual, to delve deeper into the ground to gain insight into the early medieval origin of the site, and to further investigate the nature of the prehistoric activity. Students will contribute to this overall aim through survey, excavation and recording work. The site is regularly visited by tourists, and students will also have the opportunity to develop skills in explaining heritage to members of the public.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: June 18 – July 16th, 2022

  • Enrollment Status: Closed

  • Tuition: $4,990

  • Course Type: Field Archaeology, community/public archaeology

  • Payment Deadline: April 15, 2022

  • Instructors: Dr. Fiona Beglane & Dr. René Vellanoweth
  • Orientation: May 14, 2022 at 12 pm PT/ 3 pm ET/ 8 pm IST
  • Academic Credit: 8 Semester Credit Units (equivalent to 12 Quarter Units)

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The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Fiona Beglane
Dr. Fiona Beglane
Dr. Beglane is a faculty member and a zooarchaeologist at the Institute of Technology, Sligo (Ireland), specializing in the analysis of animal bones from archaeological remains. Her research focuses mainly on medieval archaeology, hunting and the use of scientific techniques in archaeology.
Dr. René Vellanoweth
Dr. René Vellanoweth
Dr. Vellanoweth is a faculty member at the Department of Anthropology, California State University Los Angeles. He is a coastal archaeologist interested in maritime peoples around the world.


The Disert field school was a great experience. I learned so much from the month I spent there: I learned valuable information that will help me continue my education in archaeology, I learned about the culture and heritage of Ireland and I learned about myself. The instructors were knowledgeable, helpful and incredibly kind and the people that I met at this field school will be lifelong friends. The accommodations we stayed in were clean and were in a great location. I have nothing but good things to say about this field school and I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in it.

Hope Netolicky

Disert had one of the most beautiful views nestled amongst the Blue Stack Mountain, which made it a fantastic place to work in and I would love to return. We had the opportunity to break ground on the site and learn how previous geophysical and survey work translated during excavation. There was plenty of instruction beforehand to acclimatize students unfamiliar with archaeology in Ireland or in general with the methodologies we were going to be practicing and the history of the area, which included going on field trips to archaeological and historical sites in Co. Donegal and the counties around it. Working with members of the community and giving guided tours around the site helped reinforce what we were learning and demonstrated the importance of the site to the people of Donegal. Whether they were just visiting the site or working along side us, the local community was beyond the most welcoming I have experienced and they often came with either a story or baked goods in hand during tea. We were often invited to join the local clubs in canoeing and dragon boat racing or to listen or participate in spontaneous jam sessions at the pubs which was always a joy.

Shelby Medina

My time participating as a member of the 2019 Disert field school was exhilarating throughout. The accommodations were spacious and cozy. The meals provided were delicious and carefully prepared by an excellent local catering service. The beauty of Donegal town coupled with its welcoming residents make it an ideal place to learn archaeological field methods. Instruction in Irish archaeology was thorough and trips to other archaeological sites helped to bring lectures to life.

Drs. Beglane and Vellanoweth are thorough in teaching the skills and techniques that students will require for a successful future in the field of archaeology. For myself one of the best parts of this excavation was working and interacting with Irish students and local volunteers as they not only made excavating that much more fun but helped me gain a deeper understanding of Irish culture. Having participated in two other field schools in other parts of the world I feel I can safely say that this field school is top-notch. This is an excellent field school for beginning students of archaeology to participate in. It is a great investment in one’s education and professional development.

Santos Ceniceros

Tuition Includes:

  • Cost of Instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credit Units
  • Room & Board
  • All Local Transportation
  • Health & Evacuation Insurance

Student Fees

This program requires an online application — there is a $25 fee to submit an application. Once admitted, a payment of the nonrefundable deposit fee is required to secure a place in the program(s). The Tuition balance (total program cost minus the deposit fee) must be paid prior to the Tuition deadline as listed above under “Course Details.” A $100 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the Tuition deadline.

Deposit: A nonrefundable $500 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. This deposit is part of the total Tuition and NOT in addition to it.

Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy: If you paid the deposit fee but did not cancel your participation by the Tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full Tuition regardless of attendance at any IFR program. Please carefully read our Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy for further information. In the event that IFR must cancel a field school, all accepted students will be notified as soon as possible and will receive a refund of all tuition paid including the deposit fee. IFR offers students the opportunity to transfer to another field school, permitting that there are spots available and the program director approves the student to participate in their field school. Upon approval of the program director, IFR staff will make the arrangements to transfer the student’s application and payments.

Credit Card Processing Fee: A 3.5% processing fee is automatically incurred for all credit/debit card/online payments.

Academic Credit Opt Out: Students who wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credit units may do so and receive the following discounts: $300 off a full program (4 or more weeks in length) or $200 off a short program (2-3 weeks in length).

Trip Cancellation Insurance: Please consider purchasing a travel interruption insurance policy that will cover your travel cost and the cost of the IFR program once you make a commitment to attend a field school.

The added risk of COVID-19  should be a “covered event” in your policy.
Please note that the cost of coverage varies, based on your age, the program duration and geographical location.
You may get help and advice from your insurance broker and we offer the links below to help you educate yourself on these insurance products.
Travel Insured International offers coverage for Trip Cancellation or Interruption for Any Reason (review coverage based on your state).
– Compare quotes from different companies offering Trip Cancelation insurance plans.


Students will be housed in a number of holiday homes, all within walking distance of Donegal Town centre. There will be in a mixture of single and shared rooms, which will be allocated using a random draw at the welcome meeting. Those sharing rooms will do so with others of the same gender. There will be an opportunity to move between houses, however given the circumstances of COVID-19, this decision would need to be made on the first day. Thereafter, households will form ‘pods’ that limit their non-distanced social contact to one another for the duration of the field program. Individuals can move between rooms within the household at any time during the project.

Fresh bed linen and a change of bed linen will be provided at the start of the project. Students should provide their own towels. There is a washing machine in each house and students are responsible for doing their own laundry, detergent will be supplied.  Households will be responsible for daily cleaning and sanitation of their houses. Cleaning agents and equipment will be provided to each house.

Our current policies dictate that all participants in the field school will wear masks while indoors, (i.e. during lectures, during labs, in shared residential spaces, etc.). Masks will not be required within household ‘pods’. Regular hand washing will be a part of the project’s daily schedule.

A group ‘Welcome’ meal will be provided on the first Saturday evening and a Farewell meal at the end of the project. Groceries will be provided and are included in the cost of the project. Students will need to prepare and bring their own packed lunch to the site daily and prepare breakfast and evening meals within their households. A large tent will be provided on site to store bags and for shelter at mealtimes, if necessary. Other meals and refreshments may be provided at social events. Arrangements for mealtimes will be finalized subject to the public health requirements at the time. Vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free meals are widely available and will be offered as necessary at communal meals. Religion-based diets such as kosher and halal meals will be difficult to accommodate in this rural area. Students are required to indicate any potential dietary restrictions and/or food allergies on their application forms.

Travel Info

Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding the travel regulations related to COVID-19, IFR will assess the local conditions closer to the travel date (5–6 weeks prior to the program beginning) and will make Go/No Go decisions then. We urge you to participate in the mandatory orientation meeting when we will discuss the latest travel information and regulations. We also suggest you consider postponing the purchase of your airline ticket until after the program orientation.

As people will arrive at different times we will all meet at the Abbey Hotel on the Diamond in Donegal Town at 5pm on Saturday, 18 June 2022. A meeting room will be available to us. However, if you arrive early then ask if you can leave luggage at Reception.  After the welcome meeting we will share an evening meal before transferring to the accommodation.

It is strongly recommended that you fly into Dublin rather than Shannon airport as transport links are direct. From Dublin Airport or from Dublin Busáras (Main Bus Station) take Bus Eireann Service 30 or X30 which runs every 90 minutes to Donegal Town. The bus drops off directly outside the Abbey Hotel. See for details. There is no train to Donegal, however bus services are available from all major towns, see and for details.  If you miss your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email the project director immediately. A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.

In Ireland, we follow the government guidelines and restrictions, which are published on the Health Service Executive (our equivalent of the CDC), which has a designated webpage for COVID-19 restrictions, information and advice (see

Please also consult the following websites for up-to-date COVID-19 travel regulations and restrictions:

Currently (January 2022), travelers from overseas to Ireland must:


Citizens of the US and Canada do not require visas to enter Ireland. Your passport should be valid for at least 90 days after the end of your trip. Citizens of other countries are asked to check the embassy website of their home country for specific visa requirements.

Student Safety

The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and conducting field research involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of education provided. While risk is inherent in everything we do, we do not take risk lightly. The IFR engages in intensive review of each field school location prior to approval. Once a program is accepted, the IFR reviews each program annually to make sure it complies with all our standards and policies, including student safety.

Students attending IFR international programs are covered by a comprehensive Health Insurance policy that includes physical illness or injury, mental or chronic conditions. No deductible and 100% of costs are covered up to $250,000. In addition, we provide Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation policy, which allow us to remove students from field school location if local conditions change. Our field school directors are scholars that know field school locations and cultures well and are plugged in into local communities and state institution structures.

Students attending IFR domestic programs (within the US) must have their own health insurance and provide proof upon enrollment. IFR field school directors are familiar with local authorities and if in need of evacuation, local emergency services and/or law enforcement will be notified and activated.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field. If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students may contact IFR personnel directly.

Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.