I think my favorite part about our trip to Galway was probably before we even arrived out West. Although I did enjoy the small city and the bay along with the Aran islands, learning about certain aspects of Ireland via Donal’s stories was actually pretty interesting. Some of the smaller things you don’t pick up on such as the implications of the Celtic Tiger. Donal explained that getting from Athlone (which was in the middle of the bus trip) to Dublin used to be an absolute trek until they put in the major motorway we took. He also explained that there were groups of people unhappy about the incoming traffic which, from a densely populated New Jersey area seems fairly alien to me. Anything that can save us time from getting from one place to another is always very popular. Learning about the song “The Fields of Athenrye” was also pretty interesting. I had heard it before, but I was unaware that it wasn’t created until the 70’s.
Inis Mor was as much a lesson about the economy of Ireland as it was the island itself. While talking to the bus driver who took us from stop to stop on the island, at the end directing us to a good place to eat, he explained that the island’s economy was based mostly on tourism. He explained the island had only about 1,000 inhabitants and our boat must’ve held about 150 tourists alone. Finally, we visited Dún Aonghasa on the island, it was absolute madness to sit on the edge of the 100m cliff (http://www.aranisland.info).
The city of Galway itself was full of friendly people and great pubs. We went to the King’s Head on the first night we were there I couldn’t believe how old it was when I got inside (according to http://www.thekingshead.ie 800 years old), it looked like it could’ve been built last year. I loved Galway, but I’m happy I decided to study in Dublin I don’t think Dublin plays to the tourists quite as much (as long as you stay out of Temple Bar of course).