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Shawhan Spans The Globe: Part Two

Aug 5, 2013, 2:10 PM EST

Overlooking Clew Bay from the Croagh Patrick climb

Rising senior women’s lacrosse player Molly Shawhan has had quite a summer thus far. The Fulton, Md., native took trips to Spain, Portugal and Ireland during June and is spending July at Yale doing an internship. A finalist for the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award, Molly’s three blogs will talk about her adventures at home and abroad. Up next: Ireland

After our trek across Spain, my cousin and I went on to do what anyone would do following that toll on our legs: run a 5K-ish in Ireland. 

Our “Aunt” Nora is from Galway, Ireland and built a home there close to her Irish relatives. Nora is not related to me in the slightest, neither is Abbie, but Abbie’s mom, Nora, my mom and some 60 other women were all “roommates” at Saint Mary’s College back in the day. These ladies remain the best of friends, and are as close as a lacrosse team. 

For the past three years, Nora has held a 5K-ish in the village to raise money for research to cure Multiple Sclerosis. We went to Galway after Santiago to help her get everything together for the 5K-ish, the accompanying party and cupcake decorating competition… oh, and to “run” the race.

If you have ever been to Ireland I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean in saying they are a bit more laid back than your typical American. On race day, we started baking the cupcakes and making food around 11:30, when the race was set to start at 12:30-ish. Nora specifically schedules the race for 12:30-ish to account for the numerous competitors who were undoubtedly going to arrive late. 12:30 rolled around with cupcakes still in the oven, no food on the table, but plenty of smiling faces ready to run. Somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00, Nora said “on your mark, get set go,” and six of us started running while the other 50-some odd people walked (which would explain why some weren’t even wearing tennis shoes). In true Irish fashion, every last detail of the race was easygoing and not a huge ordeal. It also turns out that 5K “-ish” means closer to five miles than five kilometers – news we were not informed of until after the race, naturally. But somehow it all came together as I was running a 5K, which wasn’t really a 5K, with my cousin Abbie, who isn’t really my cousin, all organized by my Aunt Nora, who isn’t really my aunt!

As if 5K-ish was not enough, we decided to climb Croagh Patrick later that afternoon. Croagh Patrick is a 2,500-foot “hill” (more like Mount Everest) not far from Nora’s home. We figured we just hiked 100+ miles, the majority of which was uphill, and therefore Croagh Patrick should not be too difficult. Boy, were we wrong. As we reached the top, we were literally in a cloud and still climbing straight up, unable to see the destination. The top half is also neither grass nor dirt, but hundreds of loose boulders that slip and slide under your feet as you climb. A couple of missteps or falls and you could be off the edge. No risk, no freedom, right?

Masked only by the fact that we could not see the surrounding countryside because of the cloud, reaching the top was incredibly liberating. At last, after all the hiking, praying and racing, we made it to the summit.

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Ashford Castle

The next day we were pampered with high tea at the Ashford Castle. High tea was a glorious display of pastries, scones, sandwiches, and of course tea, all on fine china. The castle itself was incredibly beautiful and picturesque. That being said, I just signed my lease and would like everyone to refer to me as Princess Molly (an upgrade from just my dad calling me that all these years).

Along with their laid back mannerisms, I also witnessed the beauty that is family and togetherness in Ireland. Getting to know Nora’s extended family and watch them interact was both hysterical and eye opening. It seems as though they rarely go two days without seeing relatives as far-reaching as a second cousin-twice-removed’s wife. The love of such a large extended family coming together to just be with one another was on a different scale than I had ever witnessed. They bicker and tease, but don’t cross one of them or you’ll really understand the meaning of “Fighting” Irish when you face the rest of the family!

Often I feel as though we take our loved ones for granted. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that is everyday life, but time should always be made for friends and family. Maybe they just have more time in Ireland

Overall, Ireland was a graND experience, as the Irish would have it, but it was about time for me to go back home to my own family. I did so reluctantly, telling my maids and butlers to watch over my new five-star castle and have high tea ready upon my return.

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