Emerald Isle's Burren College Combines Art Courses, Vacations

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BALLYVAUGHAN, Ireland -- Groups or individuals can combine a vacation in Ireland with one of several Art Holidays programs offered by the Burren College of Art here in its extensive program of short-term courses.

Painting, sculpture and photography are just a few of the subjects taught at the college, which was founded in 1993.

The courses are designed for beginners and more-experienced artists, said Michael Greene, executive director of the institution.

The college, which shares a courtyard with the 16th century Newtown Castle, is named after the Burren, a limestone plateau in County Clare on Ireland's Atlantic coast.

The Burren is just part of a landscape characterized by megalithic tombs, caverns, castles and a combination of arctic and Mediterranean flora.

The Art Holiday workshops are offered in May and August.

Students can choose from a variety of three- to eight-day courses, including watercolor painting, still and live model painting and drawing, photography, basket weaving, calligraphy, Burren landscapes and hand-painted interiors.

For example, the eight-day Burren Landscapes program, held Aug. 15 to 22, enables participants to immerse themselves in landscape painting.

The instructor, Trevor Geoghegan, is an artist whose work is featured in many private and public collections in Ireland and elsewhere.

The cost of the programs ranges from about $110 to $280 per person.

Study programs are available throughout the year for groups of 12 or more interested in using the college's facilities. Groups can choose their own tutor and take supplemental courses in a variety of subjects taught by the school's faculty, he said.

Accommodations for all the programs can be arranged through the college and vary from self-catering cottages and family bed and breakfasts to a three-star village inn or four-star country house, Greene said.

For example, a one-week stay at a bed and breakfast costs about $190 per person, double occupancy.

A dinner plan costs $50 per week for five evening meals.

During their stay, students also will have the opportunity to explore the harbor village of Ballyvaughan, located about one mile from the college.

The village offers a number of restaurants, tea shops and pubs.

After a weekend, or week, spent hard at work creating their masterpieces, students can lose themselves in the abundance of County Clare's attractions.

Sites to visit include the Cliffs of Moher, which reach 700 feet above the ocean and stretch five miles between Hag's Head and O'Brien's Tower; Craggaunowen, where life from the Bronze Age to medieval times is re-created, and Aillwee Cave, which plunges 3,400 feet under a tiered mountain of stone and was carved out over millions of years by the underground rivers that cut through the Burren limestone.

Outdoor lovers can enjoy boating, hiking, horseback riding, fishing and golf.

For more information or to organize a program, contact the Burren College of Art at (011) 353 657-7200; fax (011) 353 657-7201.

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