04 May 2021

RAPEA - Day 18 - Part 2 - Shamrock TX

Ever wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone for a little luck but not had the means to get to Ireland? Then come to Shamrock TX! I know Reno and some place in Michigan claims to have a piece of it too but as Biden says, "Come on, man." What town name could possibly give off a more Irish luck kinda vibe than Shamrock?

Local lore has it that a Shamrock official brought it there in 1959 and that it was so important to the town that the mayor called out the TX Highway Patrol and National Guard, who, reportedly set up a machine gunner on the roof of the local pharmacy as the stone was wheeled into town. Who was the local official? 'Blarney' Fife? (If I have to explain that reference, you're too young to read this blog.) The stone was encased in a concrete cylinder and originally placed at Edmond Park but that was a little tricky for tourists to locate so now it resides in Blarney Stone Plaza at the corner of Main and 2nd Street just a couple doors down the street from The Jumping Leprechaun.

Shamrock TX has experienced many ups and downs over the years but I'm afraid they, as well as many small towns in America, are currently in an economic downturn. It's sad really because it has quite a few things going for it. In the 80s it was the largest town in Wheeler County. It had over 95 businesses supporting Cattle, Agriculture, Chemicals, Gas and Petroleum. The Gas and Petroleum businesses are gone now leaving behind a glut of motels and many restaurant buildings empty. The population has dwindled to less than 2,000 as the high school graduates seek their pot of gold elsewhere.

On March 14th, 2013, the 83rd Texas House Legislature passed HCR83, designating the Shamrock St. Patrick’s Day Celebration as the official St. Patrick’s Day Celebration for the State of Texas. Started in 1938 by band master Glen Truax, Shamrock has had an annual St. Patrick's Day celebration on the weekend nearest March 17. This multi-day affair features Irish food, fun, and festivities, complete with a parade, a banquet, various other entertainments, and the crowning of Miss Irish Rose. In previous years it has brought in as many as 30,000 people to the event. Although they managed to pull it off in 2020, (despite very uncooperative weather and a devastating fire in the community center where thankfully, no one was hurt) there will be no celebration this year due to Covid. But the force is strong in this tough little town and the plans are already in the works for their St Patrick's Day 75th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary March 17-20 2022 so start making those reservations folks.

And while we're on the subject of reservations, I stayed at the cutest little motel while I was there called the Route 66 Inn. The proprietor, Mike, was so gracious and helpful. It has this adorable little gazebo in the center of the property that includes a porch swing where you can watch the cars go by on Route 66. It even has two grills in case you want some grillin' to accompany your chillin'. The place is beautifully maintained with gorgeous murals painted by local artist Tye Thompson throughout the property. (Tye's artwork can be seen all over Shamrock and surrounding towns.) And rumor has it that Elvis once stayed there in Room 18!

And if you happen to arrive on a Sunday as we did The Jumping Leprechaun is the only game in town to bounce out your hunger (unless you want fast food). Don't let the outside appearance of the building deter you. One side of the building is for indoor bounce house rentals and the other side is a restaurant that serves the best Tex-Mex I've ever tasted. I was really wanting to try the Barbacoa (cow's tongue) because I had already heard from a couple people it was delicious but alas, they were all out. But the Pastor Torta (pulled pork seasoned with pineapple) was incredible. Beautiful, petite Marisol is the chef and proprietress and her dutiful son, Daniel, helps serve occasionally on weekends when his college studies permit.

Mike,  from The Route 66 Inn, and Marisol and Daniel, from The Jumping Leprechaun were just two of the great people of Shamrock I was fortunate enough to meet during my short stay and I hope to come back and see them again one day.

Vintage gas stations are prevalent on Route 66 but the most iconic is the U-Drop-In at the corner of Route 66 and Main Street. Back in the day it was a gas station and cafe for the weary traveler and it boasts of a visitor list that includes none other than...you guessed it, Elvis Presley. Now it serves only as a visitor center and fantastic photo opportunity, both night and day. Although it no longer provides fuel for the combustion engine, outback it now hosts several charging stations for the electric set. A sign of the times I guess.

Tower Plaza is an extremely educational stop which is also on Main Street. It is the home of the Shamrock Water Tower. In 2015 it was praised to be the tallest water tower in TX at 176 feet.

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