Charlestown’s current mayor, Shannon Lundin, recently returned from her hard won trip to Ireland. As the tradition goes, whoever sells the most tickets and becomes mayor earns themselves and the guest of their choice a trip to Ireland to experience the Irish culture first hand. Shannon brought her 14 year old daughter Laneigh along for the trip and obviously had a blast.
The first day they arrived, tired from jet lag, they met an older couple who were from Ireland and who had visited Boston. Impressed with the hospitality they experienced in our city, they hoped to return the favor by buying water and chocolate for Shannon and Laneigh to help with their jetlag. “I felt the similarities in the sense of loyalty and strong community bond,” said Shannon. Later that night they went to the Merry Ploughboy Pub, one of the many busy pubs in Dublin. The Irish step dancers were impressive, and even pulled Laneigh up on stage to dance with them for the crowd.
The first night was already an experience in and of itself, but the next few days were also full of new experiences and excitement. Shannon’s grandmother, Margaret Kerrin (maiden name Sullivan) was from Tralee in County Kerry. After having spent some time there, they took the “Shannon Breeze”, a ferry on the River Shannon, over to County Clare, which was her mother’s name. As both her mother and grandmother have passed, Shannon felt that it was a unique spiritual connection to go from where her grandmother was from, to a place that shared a name with her mother, on a river that she too shared a name with.
Once in County Clare, she and Laneigh climbed the 5 miles along the cliffs of Moher, which are massive rock faces looking out on the Atlantic ocean from 700 feet up. From there they traveled to see the shepherds and their sheep dogs herd the sheep over the Irish countryside. “One of my favorite things was the sheep dogs, I thought I would be bored but I loved it,” Shannon says. Only two dogs can herd up to 300 sheep, as each dog is taught a different training language and cannot understand the commands the shepherd gives to the other herd dog. In this way, the shepherd can direct each dog to different places in order to move the sheep wherever he needs them to be. Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Ireland if they also visited Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone for luck!
Ultimately, it was an amazing and once in a lifetime experience that neither Shannon nor her daughter will ever forget. “They thought I was a local until I opened my mouth. Another couple said to me ‘Every Irish love wants a dark haired blue eyed Shannon’, I laughed. I didn’t experience rudeness, everyone was really nice and kind.” It seemed to be a bit of a homecoming, being able to trace her family history from Ireland with that of her present day life in Charlestown, MA and hopefully the next mayor will be able to experience something just as amazing. Don’t forget to get out and support the candidates before June 12th not only to help the organizations they support, but to aid the next mayor of your choice in making the trip of a lifetime!