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The Irish Teaching  Internship Program was established in 1986 by an Education department faculty member and the director of the Clifden Community School.

 Clifden Community School (also known as Scoil Phobail) evolved out of two previous secondary schools, one for girls and one for boys, run respectively by the Sisters of Mercy and the Franciscan Brothers. The school of 420 students describes its mission statement as LUX, PAX, FELICITAS – LIGHT, PEACE, AND HAPPINESS in an atmosphere that encourages positive self-esteem. The primary school - Scoil Mhuire - has approximately 220 students and is catholic based.

 Students will be teaching in the Clifden schools from Monday through Thursday and travelling to Galway on Friday to attend tutorials on the campus of the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG). Vassar students will propose a general area of academic study for the tutorials such as math, history, English, psychology, history of art, physical science, geography, or another subject taught in the university. Those interested in applying should consult with their major adviser and the Department of Education before submitting a formal application to the Office of International Programs.

The program has three objectives:

  • To give students the opportunity to view and participate in primary and secondary schools in Clifden, Ireland.
  • To give students the opportunity to take college courses at NUIG.
  • To provide students with the opportunity of living in a foreign country.
  • The program is open to all students who are interested in working with children, have sound knowledge of child development, and have had extensive experience with children in school or recreational settings.
  • A minimum G.P.A. of 3.2 is required of all students who participate in this program.
  • Careful planning with major program advisors is required so that students continue to meet their course requirements at Vassar College.
  • Students must have taken EDUC 235 to receive Education credit for the internship.
  • Personal qualities such as responsibility, independence, and initiative are expected of all students.

During the fall term of the sophomore year, students are requested to confer with the Education Department chair to discuss their interest in and intent to participate in the program. Students then confer with their major advisor to plan their Vassar College coursework for the junior and senior years and to discuss possible tutorials that might be taken at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in courses they would not have the opportunity to study at Vassar (such as the study of Irish history, folklore, archaeology, etc.).

In mid-January, the Committee on Leaves and Privileges meets and selects participants based upon the recommendation of the Education Department. The Office of International Programs notifies students of their acceptance or non-acceptance into the program in early February.


The evaluation of the students’ work is a three-fold process and includes the following components:

The principal of the Clifden Community School will send a written evaluation of the students’ work in the schools to the advisor of the program at Vassar College. This evaluation is based on observation of the students in their classroom settings, discussions with their cooperating teachers and heads.

The advisor from NUIG or the NUIG tutor assigned to the student will provide comments on the education seminars taken and will send a written evaluation of the student’s performance in the work at NUIG. Based upon this recommendation one unit of Vassar transfer credit is given in the subject area.

The Vassar student will keep a detailed journal of their experiences. The journal and the portfolio of the children’s work (reflecting the students’ participation in the classroom) will be evaluated by the Vassar College program advisor. If the students have satisfactorily completed these requirements, they are awarded three units of ungraded credit as follows:

  • Two (2) units of credit for Field Work (Education 290: Secondary School Teaching)
  • One (1) unit of credit for Independent Work (Education 298: Curriculum of the Irish Secondary School)

In addition, after returning to Vassar, students will participate in Education Department information sessions held to recruit new students for the program.

The program will provide residential accommodation in an apartment or Bed & Breakfast residence in Clifden. Decisions about housing will be made together with Office of International Programs and the program based on student’s interests and housing availability.


Students pay a comprehensive fee which includes Vassar tuition, airfare and accommodation. The fee does not include meals. For budgeting purposes, students should assume that they will spend between $85-$110 USD per week for groceries. Any incidental or personal expenses are the responsibility of the student.

The administration of the program is the responsibility of Chris Bjork, the advisor to the internship program within the Department of Education at Vassar College. In Ireland, Ms. Patricia Eaton of the University of Galway arranges tutorials for the students. School placements are arranged by Ms. Mary Kelly and Brendan Flynn.

The specific responsibilities are as follows:

Mary Kelly, Principal
Address: Clifden Community School / Galway, Ireland
Phone: 011-353-95-21184


  • Maintain close liaison with cooperating teachers who supervise the students in the classroom.
  • Write a final evaluation of students’ work.

Brendan Flynn, Coordinator
Des Lally Tutor for NUIG course
Address: Clifden Community School / Galway, Ireland
Phone: 011-353-95-21184


  • Act as "domestic" tutor.
  • Supervise students in his school and maintain close liaison with them to ensure the happiness and well-being of the students.
  • Write a final evaluation of the students’ work.

Gerry MacRuairc, Liaison University College Galway
Address: University College Galway, Department of Education, 14 University Road, Galway, Ireland

Contact is maintained between the two countries by e-mail. Every year or two the program director and/or advisor visits Ireland to meet with Mary Kelly, Brendan Flynn, and Gerald Mac Ruairc to review and make program adjustments, to visit schools, and to discuss any changes in living accommodations for the upcoming year. The college provides a travel budget for the Irish Internship Program which includes transportation and living accommodations for the advisor for one week.