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Study-Abroad Students Meet U.S. Ambassador to Ireland

Students say semester in Dingle was ‘life-changing.’

After a semester of academics, adventures and exploration, Sacred Heart University freshmen studying in Dingle, Ireland, met with the U.S. ambassador to that country during one of their last weeks abroad.

Several SHU students and faculty members participating in the Freshman Fall in Dingle program spent a few minutes with Ambassador Kevin O’Malley when he visited the thriving fishing port in County Kerry. O’Malley was in town for Ireland’s Edge, a conference focusing on the arts and business.

Sean Pol O’Connor, the resident director who coordinates all aspects of the on-site program, said O’Malley was impressed the students chose to study abroad for their first college semester.

“This was an exciting and unique opportunity for the students,” said Marie A. Hulme, a SHU English professor who accompanied the freshmen. “Such meetings don’t happen often, and it was a memorable way to conclude their educational experience in Dingle.”

O’Connor said O’Malley asked about the program, and students talked about enjoying their adventures and studies, and how participating in a semester abroad turned into a life-changing experience.

The group also discussed Dingle’s beautiful landscape, O’Connor said. Dingle is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula where locals work hard to preserve the vitality of their culture and language. There is access to many learning resources, relics, ruins and holy places, as well as much to explore regarding Irish folklore, history and art.