Northern Ireland

The Best of Northern Ireland: Past, Present and Future

Unravel the complex story of Northern Ireland as you meet its people, learn its history, explore its monuments and discover the exciting transformation of this vibrant region.
Rating (4.93)
Program No. 22092RJ
9 days
Starts at
Flights start at

At a Glance

Northern Ireland is known as much for its verdant landscapes as it is for its complex history of political and social tensions that culminated in three decades of violence known as the Troubles. Discover how an area so scarred by historical unrest is redefining itself as a haven of culture and heritage as you dive deep into the ever-shifting story of Northern Ireland, visiting the landmarks, learning about the key figures and gaining a deeper understanding of the events that forged this unique region.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 3 miles each day, with periods of standing. Varied terrain including paved streets with cobblestones, gravel and woodland paths, uneven rocky terrain.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Immerse yourself in maritime history at Titanic Belfast.
  • Discover megalithic ruins, preserved castles and UNESCO Heritage Sites as you explore the region’s lush countryside.
  • Gain an insider’s perspective on historic Northern Ireland as you ride between Belfast’s vibrant political murals in a Black Taxi.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials. Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "The Best of Ireland: A Week on the Emerald Isle" (#22088) for even more learning in Ireland!
Featured Expert
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Dominic Bryan
Dominic Bryan is a professor of Anthropology at Queen’s University in Belfast. Dr. Bryan’s research focuses on Irish history, public ritual, nationalism and group identity. Dr. Bryan is also co-chair of the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and tradition.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Dominic Bryan
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
How the Irish Saved Civilization
by Thomas Cahill
This bestselling history tells the generally unknown story of Ireland's preservation of classical learning in the Dark Ages, revealing how the saints and scholars, monks and scribes labored to reproduce the important texts that spread as they evangelized Europe.
Titanic, The Story of the Unsinkable Ship
by Beau Riffenburgh
A coffee-table introduction to the Titanic and its disastrous maiden voyage. Utilizing firsthand documents and personal accounts, Riffenburgh guides readers through the Titanic, from the drawing tables of her architects to what occurred as the ship sank.
The Giant's Causeway and the North Antrim Coast
by Philip Watson
An illustrated introduction to one of Northern Ireland’s most popular attractions that covers history, folklore, geology and wildlife.
Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt
The Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of an Irish childhood spent in abject poverty in the slums of Limerick, told with enormous wit, grace, and skill.
Ireland North Map
by Ireland Ordnance Survey
A locally published, detailed map of the northern part of Ireland at a scale of 1:250,000.
Rick Steves' Snapshot Northern Ireland
by Rick Steves
In his down-to-earth style, Steves presents the best values for sights, eating, sleeping and nightlife excerpted from the larger Rick Steves country guidebook. Included are maps and self-guided tours in Belfast, Portrush, the Antrim Coast, Derry and County Donegal.
Northern Ireland
by Jonathan Tonge
Tonge examines the motivations, actions and achievements of the major players of the crisis -- IRA, UVF, UDA -- in this academic history of Northern Ireland over the last three decades.
Making Sense of the Troubles: The Story of the Conflict in Northern Ireland
by David McVea, David McKittrick
A balanced and authoritative account of the Northern Ireland conflict by two scholars, award-winning journalist and Trinity College librarian McKitterick and teacher McVea, who have spent their professional lives making sense of the Troubles.
A Traveller's History of Ireland
by Peter Neville
From the Celts to the Norman invasions to modern-day Ireland, this short history is highly recommended for those who would like a brief overview of the Emerald Isle through the centuries.
For the Love of Ireland
by Susan Cahill (Editor)
Organized geographically, this rich anthology introduces Ireland through the words and lives of such luminaries as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Frank McCourt and Samuel Beckett.
Those Are Real Bullets: Bloody Sunday, Derry, 1972
by Philip Jacobson, Peter Pringle
This definitive account of the massacre that left unarmed Irish Catholic demonstrators dead and wounded uses interviews and declassified documents to capture the chaos of that fateful day.
Silver Linings, Travels Around Northern Ireland
by Martin Fletcher
An account of travels, as well as the people, politics and traditions of Northern Ireland, infused with the author's humor and insightful reporting.
Belfast Diary, War as a Way of Life
by John Conroy
An American journalist's gripping first-person account of life in a Catholic neighborhood in Belfast in 1980.
A Place Apart, Northern Ireland in the 1970s
by Dervla Murphy
In this travelogue, the celebrated southern-Irish travel writer bicycles deep into the mayhem of late-1970s Northern Ireland. Her penetrating, intelligent prose finds Murphy interviewing both Catholics and Protestants and sorting out her opinions and emotions about the conflict.
by J.G. Farrell
Set on the eve of the Irish Rebellion, this first novel in Farrell's remarkable series illuminates the British Empire's decline in Ireland to hilarious, haunting effect. Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize.
Belfast, A History
by William A. Maguire
A sweeping chronicle of the rise and decline of Northern Ireland's largest city. Maguire shows how as grand a city that could build the Titanic collapsed into religious conflict soon thereafter.
Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike
by Peter Maas (Introduction), David Beresford
Belfast, 1981: Ten Long Kesh prisoners starved themselves to death in protest against the British government. This is their story.
The Truth about the Irish
by Terry Eagleton
An irreverent A-to-Z guide to all things Irish by a native son and shrewd comic commentator, who casts aside many myths, starting with the first entry - A for alcohol (the Irish have the lowest per capita consumption of alcohol in the E.U., after Greece and Italy).
Belfast Noir
by Stuart Neville (Editor), Adrian McKinty (Editor)
Set in Northern Ireland’s capital, this collection of previously unreleased noir stories covers the city’s history from the Troubles to the present.
Reading in the Dark
by Seamus Deane
This novel follows a Catholic boy growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1950s, dealing with a family full of secrets and a city full of hatred.

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