Inishmore

29 Sep

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Sitting on the boat as it rocked back and forth over each wave brought unease to my stomach. I hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning because I couldn’t find anything gluten-free at our hostel’s complimentary breakfast so I was starting to feel nauseous. Fortunately, my excitement to see Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands, outweighed my feeling of illness enough to hold me over until our boat finally docked. As I stepped off the boat into the unpolluted, fresh Irish air, I immediately felt better. The brisk breeze awakened me to the breathtakingly beautiful views that surrounded us. Miles behind us was the Galway mainland which was barely visible now, making the island seem like a whole new world. The village was small and consisted of a handful of sweater and souvenir shops, which immediately caught my attention. Luckily we were given enough free time to roam the markets so I could buy some real Irish wool sweaters, socks, and a cap for my dad. We then took a bus tour across the island. Nine of us squeezed into a van with a tour guide named Martin, who was a native of Inishmore. He spoke with a thick irish accent and was very hard to understand at times, but we would all nod and smile as if we understood anyways. The population of Inishmore is 840 people, which is only a few hundred people more than my small high school in Maine. The island was covered green fields and rolling hills, scattered with houses and farm animals. On the main road we took that winded along the coast, we would see only one house every mile or so; I think I saw more horses and cows than I did homes. 

On the other end of the island, we stopped at a cafe that had the most delicious Irish food I’ve had since we have been here. I ordered potatoes gratin, a very tasty meal that acted as fuel for the hike up to the cliffs and Dun Aengus, a prehistoric stone fort. The hike up to the top was short compared to the amount of walking we were used to since moving to Dublin. When we made it to Dun Aengus, beauty was striking me from every direction. In front of me, the cliffs towered 330 feet over the Atlantic ocean. We were surrounded by a fort, built circa 1100 BC, that seemed majestic in a way. Beyond the fort to our backs were those rolling hills, covered in grids of stone walls. These walls were built way back in the day when new settlers were trying to clear the rocks that covered the land in order to establish civilization by building houses and having fields for growing and raising food. The feeling of being atop these cliffs and seeing the picturesque views felt like an out of body experience. As I stared across the sea towards my homeland, I thought about my friends back home in the States and what they were doing at that exact moment, which was most likely doing homework in the library or watching netflix. And here I was, a freshman in college in my first semester staring out over the cliffs of Dun Aengus on Inishmore. This was one of the unforgettable moments that made me that much more appreciative to have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful country this semester.

Michaela Forde

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