“On the Road Again” – By Julia Swoish

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Leaving our hostel this morning was bittersweet. Getting on the bus and hitting the road meant that today was the last day of the Shamrocker Tour, and the past few days have given me memories that I will never forget.

Our first stop was in Enniskillen, where we got to take a look at what is left of the Enniskillen Castle. As opposed to the other castles we have visited, this one looked exactly how I imagined a castle to look while I was growing up, so that was exciting to see.

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We got back on the bus and drove to Navan where we saw ancient tombs, over 5,000 years old, that are the oldest landmarks in Ireland. I learned a lot about the science and folklore behind the formation of these tombs, which is so different from the stories I hear back in the United States.

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Our final stop on the Shamrocker before making our way to Dublin was at the Hill of Tara, a site almost old as the tombs in Navan, that is now just rolling, grass-covered hills. The stories and folklore that came from this site were incredible. Kings were chosen through physical fitness tests here, St. Patrick had been there, and this is supposedly where Halloween originated. I never thought I could be as interested by a grassy field as I was today.

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What struck me the most during today’s Shamrocker activities was how different the stories I grew up hearing are from the stories that are common knowledge all throughout Ireland. Since we settled in America long after the nation was formed and originally inhabited, we don’t have much folklore, so it is always intriguing to me to hear about the different stories that are passed down orally and in written form in other countries. While we were exploring, we had very little access to internet or phone service, so all of these stories were committed to the memory of our tour guide, Conor. He knew every detail of every story like he had known them his entire life, and it was amazing to hear his perspective on everything.

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