What they said about the Field School

Comments of former students of Achill Field School

My experience at the field school was amazing and I wanted to thank you because I learned so much and feel so lucky to have had such a great four weeks in IrelandKate, Keem Bay, Module 1, 2017.


This was an amazing opportunity! Everyone was very helpful and I learned so much. I would definitely recommend this for anyone with an interest in archaeology or IrelandCathleen, Keem Bay, Module 1, 2017.


I graduated from The Ohio State University in December 2016 with a degree in Anthropology geared to archaeology with GIS experience. I came to the Achill Archaeological field school as a trainee-supervisor looking for an experience larger than what the typical field school offers a student, having completed 3 other archaeological field schools and working in museum collections in the past. I needed experience to be hired as a professional, more about managing a site and the process a site goes through, then tips for excavation. Eve Campbell and Theresa McDonald have been incredibly helpful in pointing me in the right direction of how to get to the professional level in a very competitive field. The knowledge gained here in GIS, archaeological practices, ceramic identification, plan drawings, managing students and Irish history has been everything I could ask for. It is great experience for those with no experience in archaeology and those with an advanced level.  I feel now that when I work as a professional archaeologist, the skills I have learned here will make me a valuable addition to any archaeological team and would highly recommend this field school for people at any archaeological background and skill level.

—Laura Hurst, Trainee Supervisor, Keem Bay, 2017.


I spent to summers in Achill Field School and both of them were amazing. I enjoyed every single minute of that trip. We had some amazing excavations and I managed to meet some very inspiring people. Achill Field School allowed me to fall in love with archaeology and I would definitely recommend it to everyone, with or without any knowledge of the archaeological field—Maksymilian Debowski, 2015.


As someone with no prior experience with archaeology, Achill was a great hands on learning experience. I actually enjoyed it so much that I decided to study archaeology at Trinity College Dublin. Also as an American it was great to experience authentic Irish culture. All the locals were very friendly and staff not only were excellent instructors but also proficient in the local history and culture. I have already recommended Achill Field School to all my peers at university, and would recommend it to anyone else—Theresa Costello, 2015.


To be honest I probably learned more in 6 weeks at the Achill Field School than I did in 3 years of my undergraduate archaeology program. The program gives a fantastic chance to do real fieldwork and learn excavation techniques, from surveying a new site to closing up the trench at the end, supplemented by a crash course in Irish history which includes field trips to some truly fantastic sites. You would be hard pressed to find a more gorgeous place to work than Achill Island itself, and the island is dotted with archaeology that spans thousands of years, so if you haven’t picked a specialization in your archaeology studies yet you’re almost guaranteed to find something that catches your interest. The staff are some of the nicest and most knowledgable people I’ve met in the field, full of wisdom on both Irish archaeology and history, as well as on the archaeology industry in general and how to proceed through it—Ariel Pomerance, 2015. 


Over the course of an intensive 6-week course, I learned the basic techniques of archaeological excavations including laying out trenches, removing topsoil, and working with a variety of hand-tools. I also performed section drawings, elevation drawings, horizontal planning, surveying, used an auto-level, and digitized archaeological drawings in AutoCAD and PhotoshopJulien, 2015.


Having spent two weeks at the Achill AFS, I would like to thank you for a wonderful and useful experience. I also would like to thank all of the staff of the AFS for making our stay a fruitful and enjoyable oneGhazi, 2015.


Theresa, I am thankful that 24 years ago you decided to establish the Achill Archaeological Field School. The experiences I had in the school and the people I met will forever aid me in my future career as an archaeologist. I hope to see you again someday. Thank you for all that you have done for the archaeological community as a whole and for meCari, 2015.


The Achill Archaeological Field School was featured as one of the 2014 Interactive Digs by the Archaeological Institute of America and ARCHAEOLOGY magazine. As part of this initiative, students were asked to write Student Notebooks to record their experience of learning on Achill. Read Student Notebooks from 2014 Students


Anyone lucky enough to have had a chance to participate on an archaeological project on Achill feels a profound fondness for this place, its people, and its history. My three summers on Achill have become some of my most treasured archaeological and personal experiences to date. A lot has been accomplished in these three summers, through no special ability of my own but because I have been fortunate in having a host of enthusiastic and supportive people who have gone out of their way to help my project. I am truly grateful to everyone who has played a part in this project, and there are many. I could have accomplished nothing without all of their helpChuck Meide.


Worthwhile. My time at Achill has helped me to successfully apply for the council of British archaeology community archaeology training placements. I am currently working with Bristol Museum and Art GallerySamantha, Trainee Supervisor Course, 2012.


Danielle, a student of Athabasca University in Canada, has published an account of her Achill experience in her university’s Insider Magazine (PDF – see page 5 for Danielle’s paper).


Matt, a student who attended the field school in 2012 with the support of a Jane C Waldbaum Scholarship from the Archaeological Institute of America, wrote an account of his time in Ireland.


Chelsea, a student of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, has published a blog about the 2012 Achill Field School


I truly enjoyed my time there, and I learned more about archaeology in those six weeks than anywhere else—Sarah, 2011.


I miss Achill and the field school a lot though, so I can’t wait to come back!Kristina, 2011.


The Field School is awesome!Marie, 2011.


My Professor told me that he had a student do a field school with you before and she had a wonderful experience with Director of Fieldwork, Stuart RathboneZachary, 2012 applicant.


I always think of beautiful Achill Island, and how much I learned at your field schoolStudent, 1997.


The best summer of my life so far!Carol.


The Field School staff are just phenomenal, engaging and patient, in addition to being really informative so that my understanding of Irish archaeology has been vastly expandedAmanda.


I’d give anything to be where I was this time last year (2011) on a plane to Ireland and the Field SchoolNick.


I heard about this program through a friend that works at the school where I teach. She had so many wonderful things to say about her experiences with your program that I am very hopeful to experience these things myselfProspective student, 2012.


The Field School is fantastic! There are no words to explain how wonderful an experience this has been. Everything has far exceeded any expectations I had. I would recommend any of the courses to friends, family members or anyone else who has an interest in archaeologyLauren, 2013.


“I quit my job to do this course [Bare Bones] and I am seeing it as a gateway to the next phase of my life. Thank you for making it a rich and fun experience. I will come again if I am able. I can’t thank you enoughKate, 2013.


A wonderful experience at the Achill Field School. I learned so much and got to use the new GPS unit in surveying an archeological site. A longer course next time!Mark, 2013.


My second time to attend the Field School and it was just as good second time aroundMike, 2013.


I want to thank you all for the wonderful experience at the Achill Archaeological Field School. It was, and still is, one of the high-points in my life. I am now moving into a graduate program and will probably be working with trace element analysis on lithics and using that to deduce mobility patterns, which you, Dr. McDonald had a hand in forming that interest for me as I remember one of your specialties being transhumance on Achill IslandMatt.


The few weeks of my life that I spent at the Achill Field School in Ireland were a wonderful experience. The Jane C. Waulbaum scholarship allowed me to have this experience, as the funds were used for travel and living expenses. I thank the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) for this fieldwork opportunityJames.


I had the greatest time in Achill learning the history of Achill and learning the knowledge and tasks it takes to work in the field of archaeology. I hope that in the near future I will be able to pursue my passion for archaeology, and hopefully one day come back to Achill Field SchoolMegan, 2013.


“I thoroughly enjoyed the Field School in 2013Sara.


To describe my experiment in the Achill field school, it was: fascinatingOliver, 2013. 


I still consider my time at Achill, probably the best of my life. Thank you for all that you gave meCait.


My name is Zoë. I’m originally from southern Colorado but have just graduated with an undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Achill Field School really caught my eye because I spent most of my degree studying the Greco-Roman Mediterranean and this field school was an opportunity to look at something different, particularly, in this case, the chance to excavate something potentially much older. What also attracted me to the field school was the fact that it contrasted (both in terms of digging conditions and age of the site) with the first field school I had attended a few years ago near my home town, giving me a more diverse experience in the field. Finally, I had read and heard so many great things about the field school and I’m glad to say it hasn’t disappointed! Achill Field School has been an amazing learning experience for me. It’;s been great meeting all the wonderful people and seeing the setting that really make this school what it is. I can’t say thanks enough. I’m so grateful I was able to take part in such an awesome experience and can’t wait to recommend it to others—Zoë, 2014. 


Thank you so much for an amazing week on Achill! It says a lot when we battled rain and midges (small insects) and I still look back on that week with nothing but pure joy! You all made Achill feel like home, and I hope to return and meet you all again in the near future. Thank you for helping to reawaken my love of nature and old things; I can’t wait to learn more! Wish you all the best of everythingJordan, 2014. 


I would like to say that I had a wonderful time at your field school. I’ve learned so much during my stay in Achill and I am extremely grateful for this newfound knowledgeJared, 2014.


Hi Teresa, First let me say I miss Achill something awful and a greatly enjoy the updates here on face book. I had a marvelous time last summer and I also wanted to tell my classmates I received top marks for my write up of my experience there at my schoolRay, 2014.