It was an unusually clear Monday afternoon, especially given the sort of Irish weather I would’ve expected. It was really a perfect day for the sort of activities Dr Tomás Ó Carragáin had planned for our Irish Archaeology class.
Most days, outside of when we had our on-campus lectures, me and my class of American students from across the country piled into a bus with our bus driver Seán (who coincidentally would end up driving most of the buses I took during my time in the country). Usually traveling for a few hours, we’d visit the various archaeological sites within the country.
This week we were touring Megalithic sites, Dr. Tomás filling us in on the peculiar details of each stone site that were actively used thousands of years ago. We were shown examples of portal and wedge tombs, common to County Cork.
The significant part of the story starts when we stepped out of our bus and spent around 20 minutes walking down a gravel road to come across a stone circle not unlike the grander site of Stonehenge in England. It was known as Drombeg, although it was also called the Druid’s Alter due to the regular meetings of modern-day druids at the site who tried to practice to rituals of old. After Dr. Tomás gave his lecture on the site (which I took to heart given I wrote my first essay on Irish stone circles), we were allowed to wander and explore the site at our leisure.
I’d been growing a fondness for photography since I’d arrived in Ireland, wanting to become competent at documenting my experience abroad. Finding a small hill that I could use to get a better snapshot with my phone, I scrambled up it and looked out at the wide expanse of green before me. I felt the history of the site in that moment, knowing that the view I was seeing now had been a part of this history for generations.
I smiled, and took the shot then and there.
Looking back upon this experience, it really reinforced the significance of visiting not just spaces currently lived in, but familiarizing yourself with the history surrounding the country you’re studying in. It’s important to not just develop an understanding of what the culture you’re immersing yourself in now is like, but what they were like in the past. Visit a museum. Look up the local heritage sites in your area. Most of all, have fun!
— Aidan Nelson (BA ’22)