On October 4th, we headed to Galway, Ireland to learn about the history and culture of Ireland while witnessing the beautiful countryside that we all knew was here but hadn’t gotten a chance to see much of yet. With high hopes, a coffee, and “Galway Girl” in my earphones, we started the two hour long bus ride to the west. Looking out the window on the bus had me in disbelief as I had never seen all the different and vibrant shades of green in landscape. With the rolling green hills and the beautiful blue skies, the bus ride was far from boring. When we arrived, we had the rest of the evening to explore and discover the town by ourselves. The free time was wonderful because Galway had the classic Irish environment that I’d been searching for since arriving in Europe. Walking down the streets with the troubadours singing out classic Irish tunes, the locals drinking Guinness outside pubs, and the stunning green background scenery made me instantly love Galway.
The next day we woke up early to head out to the Aran Islands. I had not heard much about the Aran Islands beforehand so I was not sure what the island had in store. Once we got off the ferry on the largest island called Inis Mor, we hopped in a van to take us to our destination. One of the highlights was listening to what our driver, a local named David, had to say about Kilronan, one of the fourteen villages on the island. He informed us that Inis Mor had a population of about 800, with Irish being the main language of the people. While driving through the island you immediately notice the excessive amounts of rocks that are stacked on top of each other. David shared that the people have built over 3000 miles of stone walls on the island, which I thought was quite incredible. The people had to stack rocks in forms of fences to separate land. He gave us a quick driving tour around the island and then dropped us off and the beginning of a gravel path. We all started walking up a small hill with no clue what was going to be at the top. However, what we came upon was one of the greatest views I’ve ever seen. I found myself just sitting on the edge of the cliffs trying to take it all in. We were blessed with perfect weather so we got the full experience while visiting the Aran Islands. After the hour we had at Dun Aonghasa, we were taken to a site called The Seven Churches which used to be a monastic settlement and later turned into a graveyard. It was great to have learned about the Celtic cross in class and then see them all over the site. As the Celtic cross is usually used for burial monuments now, I find it particularly interesting that as legend has it, Saint Patrick introduced this cross to show people the importance of Christianity by comparing it to the sun. I was quite inspired by the history and beauty of the Celtic cross, so I wrote a short poem about it and what I saw at The Seven Churches site:
Celebrated throughout Ireland,
the Christian cross along with a ring,
stands the Celtic symbol so grand.
The sun beaming through,
Christianity needed like plants need light,
just like Saint Patrick knew.
The next day, we had more beautiful sights to see and headed straight to the Cliffs of Moher before heading back to Dublin. We didn’t have the best weather like we did the day before, but for about thirty seconds the clouds moved out of the way allowing us to see the cliffs. Although we didn’t get to see the cliffs like we would have preferred to, it was still a great day looking through the museum and surrounding area.