Project Description


This field school is an integral part of the major research project, the Monastic Midlands Project. It takes a holistic landscape scale approach to community based archaeological research, assessing several monasteries in the midlands region of Ireland. The program will examine the geological and glacial processes that shaped the landscape where the early saints founded their monasteries. We will then apply a range of survey techniques to interpret the sites they left behind, recording the structures, architectural fragments and grave slabs that continue to survive at these ancient monasteries. 

The program focuses on sites, monuments and structures throughout the region. Each term we will focus on one or more sites in the region, such as Seir Kieran,  an Early Christian monastery founded by St. Kieran, with incredible longevity of activity at the site, possibly starting as early as pre-historic times. Seir Kieran offers a unique opportunity to study in a single location, an early monastic site, a twelfth century monastery, a multi-period burial site, an Anglo-Norman castle and a medieval borough/town. The site was active throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods and remains an active place of worship to this day, which is very much ‘alive’ within the local community.

Our objective is to take a holistic approach to investigating the Monastic Midlands of Ireland to provide insight into early medieval life and society. Students will build on research conducted over the last two years and attain a fully-rounded appreciation of the entirety of the archaeological investigative process aimed at understanding the cultural heritage of the region. Please note that this is not an excavation-focused field school, rather, students will be introduced to a variety of archaeological research tools and approaches, including laboratory elements and survey techniques.

Download 2024 Syllabus
Course Details
Course Dates 2 sessions in 2024
S1: June 26-July 23
S2: July 24-August 20
Course Type Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology
Instructors Dr. Denis Shine
Credits* 6 semester (9 quarter)
Priority Deadline February 1
Fees Due By S1: Summer 1 (May 1)
S2: Summer 2 (May 15)
Program Fees  
Tuition $4,275
Transcript Fee* $300
Health & Evacuation Insurance $125
Room & Board $1,560
TOTAL: $6,260
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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. Denis Shine
Dr. Denis Shine
Dr. Shine is a Director of the Irish Archaeology Field School. His research interests lie in the sub-disciplines of ethno-archaeology and community archaeology.
Dr. Stephen Mandal
Dr. Stephen Mandal
Dr. Mandal is the Director and co-founder of the Irish Heritage School and a leading Irish archaeologist.


This is a new IFR field school. Check back after our summer field season to learn what our students have to say about it!

Payment & Student Fees

Application Fee: There is a $45 fee to submit an online application.

Deposit Payment: A nonrefundable $500 deposit is due within 3 weeks of program acceptance in order to secure your place. The remainder of your program fees are due by the deadline indicated under “Course Details”.

*Transcript Fee & Academic Credit Opt Out: If you wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credits, you will not be charged a transcript fee.

For more information about payment, fees, and policies, please see details under our Payment & Finances and Withdrawal and Cancellation Policy pages.


Students will stay with local families in County Offaly. Home Stay students live with local families, and experience true home life in provincial Ireland. Typically students will either walk to or be brought to John’s Hall daily, before availing of pre-arranged transport to site as appropriate. Students should understand that some host families may be in rural settings, requiring taxis to reach the town of Birr. While staying with homestay families, all students have access to safe, sanitary accommodation as well as laundry, showering facilities, etc.

Breakfast and dinner will be provided along with a packed lunch. Our homestay network caters for all main dietary requirements (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc.); they provide a well-balanced diet of Irish cuisine, but students should anticipate trying new cuisine and not having all the items they might expect at home.

Travel Info

Natural disasters, political changes, weather conditions and various other factors may force the cancellation or alteration of a field school. IFR recommends students only purchase airline tickets that are fully refundable and consider travel insurance in case a program or travel plans must change for any reason.

General information for this program is below, but keep in mind we will discuss any updated travel information and regulations during the required program orientation, which could affect travel plans.

Students will be met in Birr, Co. Offaly. Since students will arrive on different flights at different times of the day, we will meet all students on their first day of arrival (June 26th for Session 1 One and July 24th for Session 2) at Johns Hall, our head office (eircode/zipcode R42Y927) at 8.30pm. Directions and travel information will be issued to all students once they are enrolled in the field school.

If you fail to make the meeting, please call/text or email Dr Denis Shine. You will be sent relevant contact details once you are enrolled in the course.

Citizens of the US and Canada do not require visas to enter Ireland. You will need your passport to be valid for at least 90 days and will enter on a tourist visa. Citizens of other countries are asked to check the embassy website page at their home country for specific visa requirements

No other vaccinations are required for entry to Ireland but anyone working in archaeology in Ireland needs to have an up-to-date tetanus shot.

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 (877-839-4374) or email ( if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.