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In Ireland, Students Encounter Ancient Myths at Every Turn

Students at Loughcrew

Russell Swanagon and 24 Cal Poly students headed to Dublin, Ireland, last summer for a study abroad experience. Swanagon taught Storytelling: Modern Applications of Traditional Narrative, and two professors from the Dublin Business School — which is much more than a business school — taught a four-unit course titled Ancient Myth and Legends of Ireland. Students earned eight units of credit during an intensive four-week stay in Dublin.

Because there is a strong storytelling culture in Ireland, students were immersed in this activity. Weekends were full of excursions to interesting parts of the countryside, with storytellers on the buses and at the significant sites. 

Students visited Loughcrew Cairns, a neolithic tomb overlooking the historically significant Boyne Valley. While there, an Irish storyteller shared the ancient legend of the creation of the valley. Loughcrew Cairns was one seven sites selected for their historical significance and association with the ancient myths and legends that are the foundation of Irish identity and culture.

One of the program’s goals is cultural exchange.  An unexpected outcome of this visit by our Cal Poly students was that DBS is changing part of their curriculum for the Irish Culture and Language Class to include a storytelling section modeled after Swanagon’s curriculum. The administrators from DBS expressed how much everyone learned and said that they enjoyed having Cal Poly students in their classrooms.


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