Program Overview

Hosted by the University of Limerick, the prestigious Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is a world-class “space where musicians, dancers, composers, singers, conductors and choreographers explore together.” Spend a semester or year as a student in this exciting and vibrant environment, nestled in the beautiful green landscape and flourishing Irish music and dance scene of Limerick—Ireland’s 2014 National City of Culture. As an international student you will be integrated like a native student, but with much greater freedom of choice in selecting your program of study. Through small-group instruction and the freedom to custom tailor your course load, you will grow as a performer and gain exciting and unique international experience and insight. The World Academy focuses on rediscovering old art forms as well as breaking new ground.

Many courses focus on Irish dance and Irish culture through the lens of the performing arts, but classes available in other styles are also offered through customized “Practicum” classes. When you’re not in class, enjoy Irish traditional music and dance in its original context…at the campus pub!

Performing Arts Abroad’s Ireland site director, John, will meet you on your first day and host a welcome dinner for our group. During the semester, he will lead the group in several day trips to places like Belfast, Kilkenny, and Glendalough and a full weekend adventure to Galway, the Aran Islands, and the iconic Cliffs of Moher. This is in addition to a wide range of campus excursions and activities offered by the university itself as part of a robust student life program. And of course, as with all of our programs, John and our U.S. team will be available 24 hours per day in case of any emergencies.

“You work with some of the biggest names in Irish music, sitting across from and learning from people who are international music stars. The living and social situations are supportive, fun, relaxed, and great for building new long lasting friendships.”

Performing Arts Points of Interest


Dolan’s is a music venue and restaurant well-loved by the Limerick community. The venue is a lively atmosphere that hosts local and international bands frequently. There are also numerous events happening often at the site. Past events have included launch parties, “An Enchanted Evening” by the Cecilian Musical Society, and the Limerick Animal Welfare Lip Sync Battle.

The Red Hen

The Red Hen is a restaurant bar in Limerick known for its live music. The Red Hen took a unique approach in their origins as a late night venue as they built their brand around the music they wanted to attract. The Red Hen is so committed to new, local music that the first 4 bands that played at the bar didn’t even have a name yet! Each week the Red Hen hosts at least 3 live performances.

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance

Part of the University of Limerick, the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is a creative space for musicians, dancers, and artists of all types. The academy hosts events and performances for the public and university community.

PAA Home Base

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is the pinnacle of performance and academic excellence housed at the University of Limerick. Founded in 1994 by Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, the academy has come to find its true home on the  beautiful banks of the River Shannon in a state of the art building, which includes two theatres, a recording studio, and individual dance studios, providing an inspiring creative space for all who study there.

About the Location

Ireland’s third-largest city, Limerick offers the cultural excitement of a metropolis yet still retains the charm of a town. Named as Ireland’s 2014 National City of Culture, the easygoing city will captivate you with its surrounding bright green landscape, historical buildings, and friendly residents. Explore ancient castles, walk along the River Shannon, or spend the day in Limerick’s modern downtown. With many venues for Irish music and a rich history, Limerick is an artistic center. Experience Irish music and dance surrounded by the vibrant culture and spirit of Ireland. The city’s mild weather makes it easy to take advantage of the old world pubs, delicious restaurants, and many sports venues. Limerick is the perfect starting point from which to explore Ireland’s West and Southwest regions. Within driving distance of the city are the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and Fold Park, Adare, Killarney, and the incredible scenery of Galway.


Participants enjoy all the benefits of on-campus, apartment-style housing. The student village is just a short walk from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance on the banks of the River Shannon. Participants will have their own single room in a six or eight-bedroom house. Since houses are integrated with international and local students living together, you will have the chance to make Irish friends as well as meet students from other countries. Included in the cost of housing are shared amenities of a fully equipped kitchen, living room, internet, cable TV, and in each bedroom a bed, desk, and wardrobe. Rooms with private bathrooms and showers are available.

Village management lives on site and is on call 24 hours a day. They are committed to making your living situation a positive one, and with years of experience hosting new and international students they can help you with whatever problems may arise from homesickness to housemates.


You will have your own single room in our housing, but your suitemates will be a mix of local and international students. PAA usually has a small handful of students each semester, who join hundred of study abroad students from all over the world, and a group of a dozen or more students from our partner study abroad organizations who form a cohort for onsite activities and travel.

A Day in the Life

The Participant Experience

As you walk across the longest footbridge in Ireland, a cool breeze stirs some leaves on the banks of the River Shannon below. This river is the source for a great deal of the Irish folklore you’ve been learning in your music classes, and it runs through the heart of campus. In fact, you cross this bridge every day on your walk from your apartment to the impressive facilities of the Irish World Academy where you train in music and explore every facet of the fascinating local culture. This weekend you have a trip planned with the friends you’ve met in your program to the iconic Cliffs of Moher, which rise a spectacular 500 feet straight up from the ocean. You take a deep breath of the cool clear air and smile. It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago you were missing home and having trouble adjusting to the laid back lifestyle of Limerick. Now it’s as if this is all you’ve ever known.


On Arrival

You will book your flight to arrive at Shannon Airport (SNN) on your arrival date, where you will be greeted by a university representative and taken to your accommodations on campus to settle in. In addition to an extensive orientation offered by the university for international students, our Site Director John will lead a walking tour of Limerick, a health and safety briefing, and a welcome meal for you and other students in your cohort. Throughout the program, John will act as your main contact and will be available for any questions or concerns. He will also manage a 24-hour onsite emergency phone that you can call if you ever have a serious issue.

A Typical Day

Once orientation ends, classes will start and you will slip into a daily routine. Your music courses will take place in the spectacular facilities of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, while other classes could be anywhere on the beautiful University of Limerick campus. Throughout the semester, you will join fellow Performing Arts Abroad students on special excursions led by our Site Director John, such as a day trip to Belfast, a day trip to Kilkenny and Glendalough, and a weekend trip to Galway, the Aran Islands, and the iconic Cliffs of Moher. There will be plenty of time during your program to explore Ireland on the weekends, and a mid-semester break that will give you time to visit other parts of Europe.

Host Group

The University of Limerick is located in one of the most beautiful and vibrant artistic communities in Ireland. Limerick has consistently been named one of the best places to visit in Ireland, and is the 2014 Irish National City of Culture. The University has been hosting international students who want to be immersed into culture and university for years, and it is the home of The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. The World Academy is renowned as a place to“break new ground, to find your own voice, to rediscover older sounds and gestures or to reinvent received traditions.” With dedicated professors and small classes, you will grow as an artist while gaining an international perspective about music. Choose from many different traditional and modern music courses and achieve unparalleled knowledge of Irish music by studying in the place it was created.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff



“I really enjoyed the international perspective that I gained from the program. Not only did I feel that I improved in my craft, but I was able to learn valuable lessons from people all over the world!”

“It was amazing to meet people from all around the world that share with me passions and dreams. This goes over any cultural difference. The city was great and the classes very interesting and useful, I hope to have the chance to do another program like this again!”

Just one unforgettable experience. I made friends for life and I discovered what kind of path I want to make in my career. I also discovered things about myself I didn’t know before. I wish it never ended.

From the blog


On Cows, Castles, Cliffs and Celtic Music

Hannah Harris Participated in the BLAS Summer Music Intensive in Ireland in the Summer of 2015 There’s something to be said about finding yourself in a foreign country with your internal clock telling you it’s 5am… but it’s actually late…


Music, Dance, and Great Craic

Jared Coller is a music industry major at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.  He is a percussionist, and has also studied piano, tuba, guitar, ukulele, Chinese cucurbit flute, harp, string methods, scoring and arranging, and composition.  This summer he attended the Blas…


Hidden Gems in the Emerald Isle

By Elizabeth Graber and Mac Sinise You learn a lot of strange facts in Ireland, especially when you discover a book called Etiquette for Girls by Lucie Heaton Armstrong while searching through an antique shop.  That’s where this gem came…

Program Dates

Fall 2018

Session Application Deadline Start Date End Date
Fall Semester 2018 May 15 2018 Sep 04 2018 Dec 21 2018

Important Fall 2018 Dates

Spring 2019

Session Application Deadline Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2019 Oct 15 2018 Jan 22 2019 May 14 2019

Important Spring 2019 Dates

Program Cost

Description Cost
Fall Semester 2018 $14,990
Spring Semester 2019 (estimated) $14,990
Full year $25,000

Apply today — How the process works

Submit a simple online application

Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator

Upload program specific materials to an online portal

Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!

How the process works

To apply, click the “Apply Now” button on this page. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted. Otherwise, this deposit will be applied toward your overall program cost (not an additional fee). We will review your initial application and contact you within a few days to let you know if we are inviting you to the final step. At that point, we will open an online portal for you and ask you to complete and upload the following materials:

  • Your resume/CV
  • Official university course selection form
  • Your official academic transcript
  • A music audition video (required for upper level courses)
  • Your availability for a 30 minute Skype interview
Apply Now

Application Tips

  1. The Skype interview is our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
  2. For your academic letter of reference, be sure to choose a professor who knows you well and can speak to your strengths and dance interests.
  3. Talk to your financial aid office and academic department to see if any of your financial aid, grants, or scholarships can be used for your semester abroad. Federal aid should always apply as long as your school will accept academic credit from the University of Limerick.
  4. Your music audition video should highlight the dance style you do best, and should be a high quality video with a strong opening. Videos with other musicians are fine, as long as you clearly identify yourself and include adequate solo playing time. If you hope to take upper level Irish music courses, you will need to include Irish musical styles in your video. We prefer videos to be uploaded to an online platform such as YouTube to allow us to easily share with the dance studio supervisors.
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Eligibility Requirements

  • Age

    Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.

  • GPA / Student Status

    This program is for students who have finished Freshman year with a GPA of 2.8 or higher. Applicants who do not meet these requirements may be considered on a case by case basis with supplemental application materials such as a letter of reference and/or letter of explanation

  • Language

    No language is required, and courses in Irish Gaelic are offered as part of the program. If English is not your native language, you may be asked to complete an international English language exam before acceptance.

  • Experience

    This program is meant for musicians with at least one year of dance experience. Some courses may require an audition for admittance.

  • Motivation

    We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.

Apply Now