What happens in Galway, stays in Galway…

3 Nov

During my weekend trip to Galway, I explored the city center on my first day. My friends and I walked along the highway and came upon a cemetery. (We have a thing for cemeteries.) There was a huge slab of stone dedicated to the people aboard the Dutch Airliner, Hugo De Groot, who lost their live on August 14, 1956. This aircraft crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. I observed the surrounding gravestones and many of the stones did not contain names because the people were either unidentified or lost at sea. We continued on our way until we reached the center of the city.

The center of the city, also known as Eyre Square is lined with flags from different counties. Galway is known as Ireland’s Cultural Heart and young adults love coming to Galway to party and socialize. In 2007, Galway was one of eight cities named as ‘sexiest city’ in the world. A poll in 2008 showed that Galway was ranked the 42nd best tourist destination in the world, 14th in Europe, and 2nd in Ireland. Galway is a lively city filled with history.

On Saturday, we all got up early (to college students’ standards) for our boat ride to the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands is probably the most beautiful place I have visited so far. The atmosphere is absolutely amazing and the landscape is stunning. During our bus tour around the island, we saw seals basking in the sun AND a man herding sheep in the middle of the road! It was quite a sight, and I got really excited over it. It was pretty cool to witness. Our tour guide was hilarious and gave us a lot of history of the island. There are said to be about 1,200 inhabitants of the Aran Island who speak Irish, but are also fluent in English. As we drove around the island, our tour guide pointed out the stone walls. He told us that families would split their land this way, and in order to keep each other out, they put up these walls. He also pointed out these stones that were concave, in order to capture rain water. The stones are mainly limestone and date back to the Visean period. The landscape was formed as sediments in the sea compressed and fossilized corals and ammonites.

We then got off of the bus in order to walk up to Dún Aonghasa, which is an ancient fort at the edge of a 100 meter high cliff. Historians cannot pinpoint when the fort was built, but it is thought it dates back to the Iron Age. Our tour guide brought us to outside of the fort walls to show us a bunch of jagged stones sticking out of the ground. He told us that these stones were to prevent attackers. He said if the fort were under attack, it would be easy to defend because archers would shoot from the fort, and the attackers would have to weave around the stones so as not to die. Pretty clever.

On Sunday, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. (PART OF HARRY POTTER WAS FILMED HERE!!!) Anyways, it was foggy and windy that day, so we couldn’t see anything, which is disappointing. I didn’t get to see the rock Dumbledore and Harry Potter stood on… I did get to see some cows though! The cliffs were named after an old fort calld Moher that used to stand on Hag’s Head. The fort was demolished in 1808 so that the materials could be used to build a tower. There is approximately 30,000 birds living on the cliffs, representing about 20 species. You can find Atlantic Puffins in isolated parts of the cliffs. (Too cool!) As mentioned before, the Cliffs of Moher appeared in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and in one of my all-time favourite movies, The Princess Bride. I hope I can visit the Cliffs of Moher on a better day so I an actually see things.

Overall, my trip to Galway was amazing, and probably my favourite place in Ireland. I hope to come back to Ireland with my family and show them the views I’ve seen because pictures cannot do them justice

-Sydney Wilson

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