Review by Madeleine Harris : Alumni Experience

Review by Madeleine Harris

(IAFS Alumni, Intern, Staff and Research Partner)

2017, 2018, 2019

Maddy (centre) getting messy with students in the site lab, while conducting bucket flotation

Maddy getting personal tuition on pottery from leading Irish medieval pottery expert Clare McCutcheon

My decision to attend the Irish Archaeology Field School’s (IAFS) course in the winter of 2017 was easily one of the best decisions I have made. It was so great that I decided to come back for 4 additional seasons! The IAFS brought me much more than just archaeological skills and experience. I created great memories and friendships, participated in research projects, learned about the history and archaeology of Wexford and of Ireland as a whole, and had many growth opportunities, both personally and in my education and career.

One of the best things about this field school, and one that I think makes it unique, is the community it creates. I had the opportunity to interact with students and interns from all over the world, the wonderful IAFS staff, various archaeologists and specialists in Ireland, the staff members at the Irish National Heritage Park (INHP), as well as amazing host families. This makes for a fun, supportive, and collaborative environment.

Aside from creating community, the field school also does a great job of supporting student growth. The staff are happy to discuss postgraduate programs and career and research opportunities, they collaborate with lecturers at Irish universities, and encourage participation in research projects. Additionally, when students return as interns, they are encouraged to focus on the areas they are most interested in, whether this be museum curation, fieldwork, community outreach, research, etc. After my first season with the IAFS, I realized post-excavation was my main point of interest. I was able to continually improve my skills in this area, and eventually ran the on-site lab.

I also had the opportunity to participate in research with the IAFS, eventually leading to me being published twice, and influencing my decision to stay in Ireland to earn my MA in Archaeology. My field school experience was such an impactful component of my archaeological education that I decided to write my MA thesis about the benefits and limitations of archaeological field schools, and had the opportunity to present this research at an international conference, ‘Carrig 850’, hosted by the IAFS and INHP, in October of 2019.

Overall, my experience(s) with the Irish Archaeology Field School greatly influenced the archaeologist, and person, I am today. I will forever be thankful for the experience and would encourage anyone who is interested to attend or get involved in whatever way possible!