As he drove a private coach carrying 27 Niagara University students from Belfast to Dublin, Tony, their driver, sang a mournful ballad of Derry (aka Londonderry) describing the Irish attempt to heal from a long history of sectarian conflict.
The students were nearing the end of what had been a 16-day study abroad excursion, ending last week, during which they circled the Irish Isle learning about the criminal justice system in the Emerald Isle. Tony had accompanied them to every stop on their voyage and laughed as the students applauded and requested souvenir selfies with their driver-cum-balladeer.
This was the first time that Dr. Paul Schupp and Dr. Dana Radatz, criminology and criminal justice faculty members, led the study abroad program to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Officials at the Garda national police college in Templemore and the Police Services of Northern Ireland in Belfast hosted the Niagarans. At the former, the group learned how one of the world's last police forces to operate without firearms undertakes its mission. In the latter, the group learned historical lessons about terrorism and the civil rights movement.
In Dublin, the students toured Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, where they learned that some of the newer buildings were 150 years old. The college is home to the world-famous Book of Kells. Irish monks hand painted this illuminated manuscript depicting the gospels with Christian and Celtic symbols.
At Trinity, an Irish barrister led students through a mock trial at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin. There, they met with the manager of Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign, where they learned about Ireland's drug crisis and its response to the problem.
The Niagarans also toured infamous jails, such as Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol, the Cork City jail, and Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol, the “Crum,” a fascinating way to learn about criminal punishment, colonialism and sectarian violence.
Fortunately, the luck of the Irish was with the Niagarans, who enjoyed beautiful weather throughout their tour. The excursion also took them to natural World Heritage sites, the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway. They also visited castles in Kilkenny and Blarney, where they kissed the famous stone.
The Ireland program was the third annual program for Drs. Radatz and Schupp who created and led the journey focused on criminal and social justice themes. They collaborated with Dr. Diana Falco, a Niagara University alumna and former criminology and criminal justice professor at NU who founded her own educational tour operation, ExplorEd.
The students who traveled to Ireland were enrolled in Dr. Radatz's spring semester class, “Comparative Justice in Ireland and Northern Ireland.” The course prepared students and offered a bonding opportunity prior to their travels.
The program is a brief, affordable, faculty-led option for students who want to add such experiences to their resumes, but cannot afford, or are uncomfortable with, studying abroad alone for a year. It is open to Niagara students in any class year with any major.
The Niagarans enjoyed their farewell dinner at the Brazenhead restaurant, Dublin's oldest public house. The Niagarans raised a toast to their time in Ireland, where they made memories and celebrated friendships.
Dr. Radatz’s plan for spring 2019 is to hold a course entitled “Comparative Justice in the United Kingdom,” followed by an excursion to England, Scotland and Wales.
To learn more about Niagara University's undergraduate degree program in criminology and criminal justice and/or its graduate degree program in criminal justice, please call 716.286.8080.