Visiting US college collaborates with GMIT Mayo on environmental project

Thursday, June 01, 2017 Press Office
Press Release

James Madison University Summer School on six week study visit

A group of students and staff from James Madison University, Virginia, USA, are due to arrive in Mayo on 9 June to take part in a summer study programme in collaboration with Lifelong Learning at GMIT Mayo, UCC and Waterways Ireland.

The US group of three faculty members and fourteen students majoring in biology, theatre and communications, are researching the cultural and environmental impact of water on our lives. As part of their studies and research they will take part in field trips and excursions right across Mayo in collaboration with staff on GMIT Outdoor Education degree programmes and the Lifelong Learning Department.

Dr Sean McCarthy, Programme Director, JMU, says: “Faculty members and students from James Madison University are delighted to be in Ireland for 6 weeks on a study abroad trip.  This is an interdisciplinary research trip, the theme of which is the cultural and environmental impact of water on our lives.   Our students are majoring in biology, theatre, and communications and will undertake two community-based projects in Ireland as part of this trip. Our trip to Mayo will bring us to Achill Ireland, Newport and Lough Carra.  We are thrilled to be partnering with GMIT Mayo and hope this will be the first of many collaborations. In addition to Lifelong Learning at GMIT Mayo, we’re collaborating with Waterways Ireland and lecturers in University College Cork on this project.”   

Mary Nestor, Lifelong Learning Coordinator at GMIT Mayo, says: “We are delighted to contribute to this innovative summer school programme from James Madison University where students can experience the unique cultural and environmental heritage of the West of Ireland.  Their Mayo trip will include key sites such as Ballintubber Abbey, Castle Burke, kayaking on Lough Carra to Lady Island, Burriscarra Friary and Moore Hall, where the group will be hosted by GMIT lecturer Orla Prendergast, myself and Chris Huxley, Ecologist.  Students will learn about water quality, aquatic and woodland ecology, land use, archaeology and history.   It is an exciting initiative for both GMIT and James Madison University.”

“I have been working with the Programme Director, Dr Sean McCarthy, on their schedule and they will be staying in Achill for one week and taking part in the excursions in every corner of Mayo, and will also attend some ‘field’ lectures."

Michael Gill, Acting Head of GMIT Mayo, adds: “I welcome all the visitors to our campus and to Mayo. This is a really exciting development and we look forward to exploring further collaborations in this area.”

The James Madison University Summer School programme is interdisciplinary and has a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths)  /  Water focus.  For further information about the US university, see:

For information about GMIT Mayo’s Lifelong Learning courses, see: and undergraduate course, see: