Study Tour to the West

2 Oct

This past weekend we were given the incredible opportunity to visit the West of Ireland, where we toured the Aillwee Caves in the Burren. It was amazing to see the force of nature through the semi-circular tunnel made by an underground river of melted waters from an ice age that occurred thousands of years ago. While in the caves, the lights were turned off and we were immersed in complete darkness, unable to even see our hands in front of our faces. It is a scary yet astounding sensation to stand in total darkness, and despite the large group of people with me, I felt very alone. While standing there, I thought about how Jack McGann, the farmer who discovered the caves in 1944, must of felt when he first entered the caves and walked into the darkness. As we continued walking through the caves, I noticed interesting structures formed out of materials I didn’t recognize. Later in the tour, I learned they were stalactites and stalagmites, which had been forming for hundreds of years.

After the caves, when we got back to Galway, my friends and I headed out to enjoy some live music. While walking around, I learned there were some bagpippers playing on the street. Excited for my first live bagpipe experience, I ran over only to discover that the bagpipers were from Seattle, Washington, where I was born! After some investigation I discovered the mayor of Seattle was there too, so I decided to meet him and was successful. While talking with the mayor and his husband about Galway and my time in Irealnd I learned that the mayor knew my uncle, who is also involved in Seattle politics. This really showed what a small world we lived in.

Experiencing the caves and learning about them was a great part of visting the West. Not only did I see Ireland’s beautiful countryside, but I also found connections to home while exploring Galway.

-Isabel Baird

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