The Ireland MFA Residency is offered every other year and is designed to introduce Wesleyan’s MFA students to the literature and culture of a literary nation during ten days of writing and literary enrichment in Dublin, Galway, and County Clare.
Students attend readings and historical lectures and explore this “city of words” and its seaside suburbs. Other possible events include a play at The Abbey Theatre, a day-trip to ancient Newgrange in the Boyne Valley, a visit to the shore of the Irish Sea at Sandymount, or an excursion to County Wicklow. The schedule may include a train to Galway in the West, a writing workshop with Irish writers, a bus-trip to County Clare, and ferrying to the Aran Islands. The trip evolves based on conversations with interested students. Students have ample time for writing and discovering their own personal Ireland as well as taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities for inspiration.
What past participants have said about the Ireland Residency:
“I stood on the James Joyce House staircase like Gretta in “The Dead,” received a kiss from Jeannette Winterson at The Dublin Writers’ Festival (showed her my underlines in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?), dipped my toes in the sea at Dun Laoghaire, grew silent at Kilmainham Gaol, laughed in the rain on the way to Tom Murphy at The Abbey, ate boxty, and tied a scrap of my red scarf to a Hill of Tara fairy tree to leave a bit of me in Ireland and come home with a bit of Ireland in me.”
~ Shauna Jones, MFA Ireland 2012
“Long twilights, verdant fields, walks in Dublin, country lanes, by the sea. Irish poets in Galway, Neolithic artists at Newgrange, Oscar Wilde at The Gate, dark ale and Irish stew. And there was time – time to observe, appreciate, dream, write. The whole trip — luminous!”
~ Marilyn Stearns, MFA Ireland 2014
“Highlights: workshop with Dermot Bolger, one of Ireland’s premier novelists, falling in love with Dublin and the haunts of James Joyce, losing my heart to Galway City, Coole Park, Inis Mor and the Cliffs of Moher, and to Irish poet Nicholas McLachlan, whose workshop engaged us deeply at Salmon Poetry and Literary Centre, Ennistymon, County Clare. I would go again in a heartbeat.”
~ David Evans, MFA Ireland 2016
“Treading the cobblestone alleys Joyce walked, searching for descendants of the Yeats swans at Coole Park, rambling The Cliffs of Moher, visiting Salmon Bookshop and Literary Cen-tre, a veritable temple to contemporary Irish poetry – there wasn’t an uninspiring moment.”
~ Phill Provance, 2018
Devon McNamara, Project Director
Next Ireland Residency: May 29 – June 7, 2020
Curriculum: Students complete advance reading and submit a project proposal for the trip. After returning to the United States, students turn in a piece of writing—fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry—relating to or inspired by the travel experience and also submit a personal evaluation/summation of their participation in the project. Pass/fail grades are assigned. (A more detailed project description provided in the fall preceding the residency.)
Tuition and credits: This residency fulfills two two-hour courses* (ENGL 520/525, ENGL 530/ 535, or ENGL 540/ 545, depending on the student’s genre). Tuition is the same as that of on-campus residency: 4 credits X $475 = $1900. MFA graduates, and other non-degree persons, may audit for a total of $800 (auditors are expected to attend all programming; they are welcome at writing sessions but not required to attend; auditors who are not MFA alumni must submit an Application to Audit; auditors are offered advance reading, but are not required to complete it, nor are they required to submit or execute a project proposal; read more information on campus-residency auditing here).
Residency equivalency: Although the Ireland Residency replaces one on-campus residency*, students are currently still encouraged (but not required) to attend the subsequent summer residency, with tuition waived, paying only for room and board; if attending the summer on-campus residency, full participation is expected.
Estimated costs beyond tuition: This amount includes lodging, events, and most transit costs (e.g. ferry and train tickets). Flight, meals & miscellany are not included here—estimates are $1100 for flight, $250 for meals, $100 for misc; amounts vary according to individual preferences.
Costs lower the larger the group:
4 students attending=$2500 per student
6 students attending=$2200 per student
8 students attending=$1900 per student
A passport number and a deposit of $1000 are due in the fall preceding the trip. If the trip is canceled, students are fully refunded; if students decide later not to take the trip, they receive only a partial refund (flights are booked individually but need to fit within assigned time windows for the purpose of shuttling).
*Because of fundamental work completed at a student’s first residency and because of the nature of fifth-residency requirements, the Ireland Residency cannot serve as a student’s first or final (fifth) residency.
Leader Photo © Jessie Lendennie, Salmon Poetry