For our first trip as a group, we traversed the twentieth largest island on Earth. Travelling from our (temporary) home on the east coast to the wild and wonderful western coast of Ireland took us approximately three hours by bus (what I considered to be a surprisingly short time period considering the island made the Earth’s top twenty). But what the weekend long trip lacked in distance, it more than made up for in sights, sounds, tastes, and overall experience.
We arrived in Galway Friday afternoon. When I first entered the city center, I was immediately struck by its size. Having heard about the city of Galway for the past few weeks, I expected the place to be larger. That being said, the cobblestone streets, traditional style pubs, and music heard throughout the city, made Galway’s atmosphere utterly enticing. I couldn’t help but be drawn to a place where I could eat fresh oysters (which I did), listen to traditional Irish music (which I did), and drink a Guinness (which I did), all simultaneously. Though Galway’s charm was certainly attractive, it was Saturday’s day trip that stuck with me the most.
The Aran Islands can be seen from Galway’s harbour. On Friday, I got a view of them and wasn’t impressed. “They look just like the rest of Ireland, just with water around them” was my first thought. This disappointed me because I had been excitedly anticipating their visit since my arrival in Ireland. On Saturday morning, the ferry taking us to the biggest island, Inis Mor, took almost two hours. After finally arriving at Dun Aonghasa, the ancient fort on top of the Atlantic-facing cliffs, my mouth dropped. My presumption made from the Galway Harbour could not have been more incorrect. The sheer beauty that awaits you is indescribable (but I’ll try). Towering cliffs face the Atlantic ocean where, hundreds of miles out, it seamlessly transforms into the bright blue sky. Waves pound the shore far below our feet, the soft sound of each crash barely distinguishable from the last. The ferry could have taken two days; it would still have been worth it.
With apologies to Galway, our day on Inis Mor was my favorite part of the Western Ireland trip. The trip overall will stick with me for years to come. I hope to return to the western Irish coast at some point, sooner rather than later.