Georgia Southern’s study abroad program connects Savannah to Ireland

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 3:24 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia Southern University will have a big presence in the St. Patrick’s Day parade Friday but the school’s connection to Ireland lasts all year round.

An ocean and nearly 4,000 miles separate Southeast Georgia and Wexford, Ireland. University leaders say they’re building a relationship linked through the past, present, and future.

Dr. Howard Keeley says GSU’s interest in Ireland started more than a decade ago with the Irish influence in Savannah.

“We thought to ourselves ‘Savannah is Irish’ but we started asking people ‘how is Savannah Irish? Where does that come from?’”

University honors students began researching the immigration after the Potato Famine and realized over half the new Savannahians came from Wexford. That began a relationship with Wexford and students began to learn more.

That’s led to a satellite campus in Ireland for Southern students to live there for a semester and study a range of topics beyond the traditional history, literature, or arts.

“What we’re looking at is Public Health. We’re looking at psychology. College of Business is doing advanced hospitality management in Ireland.”

He says the chance to study abroad could help the university compete for top student-scholars. They’ve now begun placing interns with some of Ireland’s biggest international companies.

“We know each other. We’re all cousins. This is a 175 year old relationship. But it faded. Now, we’re bringing it into the 21st Century.”

His hope is they bring it back in a sustainable way that lasts for generations to come.