Due West, Two Hundred and Ten Kilometers

27 Sep

Two hundred and ten kilometers due west, the countryside reminded me of home. A big motorway, little cars and sprawling green fields. I felt more comfortable driving through the middle of a peat field in a country I had never been to before than in Dublin, the place I have called home for the past three weeks. I have never lived in a city before and even as I have come accustom to sidewalks and cars and crowds of people the past few weeks, I still find solidarity from being in the middle of nowhere. Call me simple minded, but I enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

As we approached Galway I could tell it was going to be a place I would like. Compared to Dublin, it is a much smaller town, with one central area with pubs and restaurants and one town green. After we had all settled down in the hostel, exploration of the town commenced. I walked to the town green and sat down on a bench. Some of my friends had began playing on a playground, spinning themselves on some medieval contraption whose only purpose was to make one ill with dizziness, but they were enjoying themselves, reminiscing about childhood.

 

It was sometime after nine P.M. on a Friday as I sat and watched the city. I listened to groups of people as they walked by. Each group was a rambunctious group of teens, jumping about with their friends, talking about the night’s follies. Watching these groups pass by reminded me of my own group of friends. All the nights we had spent out and about town, laughing the hours away. This is when I had a realization. As strange as this may sound, this moment was when I finally realized that Ireland wasn’t much different from my own home. This place wasn’t as foreign to me as it had been five minutes before. There are big cities, there are small towns, there is countryside, and there are groups of friends who go out on Friday nights. It was all quite similar and that only hit me then and there.

 

The next morning, we awoke and were whisked away to the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway.  Once again, the openness made me feel like I was at home. There is one town center on the island of Inis Mor with a Spar, an ice cream shop and an Aran sweater market. It was quiet and peaceful, with locals standing around calling at those who were coming off the ferry, “Rent your bikes here!” or “Bus tours! Over here!” We followed one man who took us to a bus that went all over the island of Inis Mor. We saw farm after farm and rural village after rural village. It was a real eye opener. I saw people doing what their families had been doing for hundreds of years on the same island, farming

 

When we returned back to Galway, I felt like I had a better understanding of Ireland. Ireland wasn’t this single city of Dublin that I had become so accustomed to, Ireland is Galway, Ireland is farming, Ireland is the Aran Islands, Ireland is all of the people that make it up and inhabit it and call it home. They make this place special, just like the people who inhabit my home and I who make our home a special place to be. Two hundred and ten kilometers due west of Dublin, I no longer felt like I was in a place so foreign to me

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-Scott Schmidt

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