"The Spike Island program was such a wonderful experience! I was instantly drawn in due to the interesting history of Spike Island itself and the program’s involvement with bioarchaeology. I knew by attending a field school program I would learn archaeological field methods, but I couldn't imagine a better educational experience than I was given by the director and supervisors on Spike. They were very helpful and clearly loved what they were doing, making the learning experience for us that much easier to understand and truly enjoyable. It was fantastic in the sense that we got to do a variety of things in the field each day, in order to make sure we experienced doing each method. I learned so much about Ireland's history in relation to Spike Island and about field work in archaeology. Spike Island was a wonderful opportunity and I hope others will have as great an experience as I did."
-Kellen Hope, Emory University (2013)
"In the Summer of 2013 I was a participant in the Spike Island Archaeological Project. My aim was to put into practice what I had learned as an undergraduate student and get hands on experience in the field. The excavations on Spike certainly fulfilled all my expectations. Spike is truly a unique site, located as it is on an abandoned prison island in Cork Harbour. Despite its island location, the accommodation and facilities were of a high standard, and the local council ensured we had everything we needed. Dr. O’Donnabhain’s enthusiasm was infectious and there was a great sense of teamwork among the 30-strong team, which quickly became a 30-strong group of friends. The excavations provided a range of experience not often found on a single site. This included excavations in old prison buildings, open fields and a 19th century cemetery. The bioarchaeology aspect was of particular interest to me personally, and I was afforded ample opportunity to excavate the human remains we discovered. The finds included the human skeletal remains, vast quantities of metal, glass and pottery, along with some military equipment (thankfully not live!). The exploration of the archaeology of Spike Island has only just commenced and future excavation seasons promise many more great finds."
-Kevin Higgins, University College Cork (2013)
"Attending the Spike Island field school allowed me to gain countless memorable experiences. When I was first looking at field schools, Spike Island stood out in regards to its unique location and focus on bioarchaeology. Besides studying human remains, I learned many important field methods due to the instruction and teaching of the director and supervisors. The accommodations on the island were wonderful and it allowed everyone to get to know one another. The county council and the staff on site were always helpful and made sure we were comfortable. Beyond learning techniques we can apply, we also built friendships that we will have forever. In the field, we excavated in prison building and the 19th century graveyard, along with analyzing graffiti from the recent prison. We were able to find pottery, glass, human skeletal remains, buttons from clothing, and many more artifacts. I cam out the this field school field more confident in my archaeological knowledge and my own abilities. I enjoyed it so much I did not want to leave. Spike Island is great opportunity and learning experience that still has many exciting field seasons ahead."
-Sydney Schueller, UCLA (2013)
"I chose to go to Spike Island because it seemed like an amazing location and experience for a dig. And in that regard it exceeded all of my expectations. I got to participate in a once in a lifetime experience I'll never forget, and that will no doubt have a profoundly positive effect on me. For an archaeological excavation, it was an extremely effective program taught by a highly-qualified and very experienced staff with an obvious passion for the field as well as teaching. I learned more than I could have expected from a very intensive but completely rewarding excavation. I feel very confident about the techniques and tools I was trained in while on Spike Island, as well as their application in the field of archaeology and anywhere else. Not only that, but I met a great group of people I'm very happy to call my friends. An added bonus was having such an interesting conversation starter on my resume when applying for jobs after school. I don't know anyone with a similar experience, and that unique set of applicable skills definitely helped me stand out."
Henry Boyd, Boston University (2013)