West Coast Swing

8 Oct

Last weekend was the first time since the end of August that I was not in Dublin, Ireland. Through my Irish Life & Culture course at Dublin Business School and with the cooperation of the Foundation for International Education (FIE), I was given the opportunity to visit the Western Coast of Ireland. There, I took a tour of the city of Galway, the Aran Islands, and the Cliffs of Moher. On the bus ride there I was additionally able to witness the scenic and beautiful landscape of the Republic of Ireland.

Galway is a very lovely city. In many ways it can be said that Galway is a smaller, more lively Dublin. It has a majority of the attributes that make Dublin so great such as being a very great student-centered city and also being very friendly and receptive to visitors. I think one of the biggest things that I did notice in Galway was how much stronger Spanish influence is there compared to other parts of Ireland. From my understanding, due to the proximity of Western Ireland and Northern Spain, there was a lot of communication and trade between the two, mostly via sea. In addition, during the height of the Spanish Armada in the 1500s, Western Ireland was used as a battleground of sorts between the Spanish and the English. Many Spaniards allegedly remained in Ireland and settled down, and many possibly settled down with other Irish folk. If we fast-forward to the present day, not only is one part of Galway called “The Latin Quarter,” a large amount of those within Galway seem to have a darker complexion and black hair, unlike near Dublin where Irish folk tend to have a much fairer complexion and lighter hair. I think this very indicative of the strong relationship that Ireland and Spain has with one another, even in the present day.

Moving on from the city of Galway, as previously stated, I was also able to visit the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. During my visit to the Aran Islands, I went to Inis Mor, which literally means “Big Island.” The island itself is very barren due to the island being comprised almost entirely of rock. For the areas that are fertile, they are that way because over the course of history, the inhabitants of the islands dug the slabs of rocks out of the ground and created fences all over the island. The purpose of this was not only to allow vegetation, but also to create property boundaries. Most interestingly, nearly all the signs in Inis Mor were not bilingual, except in the town center. Instead, these signs were almost exclusively in the Irish language, which signifies how strongly the locals feel about the language.

Finally, I was able to visit the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately, unlike the other days when it was completely sunny and hot, this portion of the trip was cold, rainy and foggy. I only was able to see a portion of the Cliffs, but the portion I was able to see was stunning nonetheless. In many ways, this was the first time I was able to experience the expression of Ireland having four seasons in a day.

Overall, I had a fantastic time in the Western coast of Ireland, and I would love to visit the area once more.

Cheers!

-Carlos Handal

 

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