A trip to the West

22 Mar

A few weekends ago, some of us international students took on the west of Ireland visiting Galway, Aran Islands, and the mighty Cliffs of Moher.  This trip was quite different than the trip to Northern Ireland which was more political based with visiting places such as the Orange Order and having a walking tour of Derry-Londonderry.  This last trip was a little more relaxed and scenic based.

On Friday, we all boarded the coaches and set out for Galway.  I always enjoy the coach rides through Ireland because I love looking out and seeing all of the green rolling hills.  When we got closer to Galway, it was interesting to see so many of the fields covered with limestone walls and rocks strewn about.  It’s hard for me to imagine back in the middle of the 1800’s when the Famine was occurring in Ireland with what they were going through.  I grew up on a farm until I was about ten years old and we were grateful to have acres of nice land to till and plant our crops.  Looking out at that countryside, it made me wonder how it was at all possible for the Irish farmers to have any successful crops with all of the rocks and no quality soil for the potatoes to grow?  The Potato Famine is said to have claimed close to one million lives, due to starvation, disease, and malnutrition, and Ireland lost families and individuals to emigration.

Saturday was a pretty long day.  We left Galway in the morning so we could catch our ferry to the Aran Islands.  That day I was incredibly thankful that I don’t get motion sickness from boats – because boy-oh-boy was our boat catching some waves out on that water! We arrived to the islands safe and sound.  We were on the largest of the three islands called Inis Mor where about 850 people live.  Many of the people who live on the island have occupations as farmers, work in the sweater making business, or in tourism.  I really enjoyed the tour we received of the island by a van.  Gaelic is the main language that is spoken on the island and english as a second language.  It was cool to hear so many people speaking Gaelic since I don’t really hear it in full force in Dublin.  Our ferry ride back to the mainland was uneventful and not as rough as the way in. Back in Galway for the night, we enjoyed a nice dinner at our hotel and got to interact some more with other individuals who were on the trip that we maybe didn’t know.

Sunday was perhaps my favorite day of the weekend because we got to visit the Cliffs of Moher! I had been extremely anxious to visit the cliffs ever since I arrived back in January. And it was everything I had wanted and more.  When we first arrived, I was a little disappointed with the weather because it was so foggy that you couldn’t really see the outline of the cliffs that well.  With some time, it cleared up and I was a happy camper. It was super cool to be there where a scene from the Harry Potter was filmed since I’m a super Harry Potter fan. Being surrounded by those mighty cliffs for a few hours was sure something else. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.  It was definitely an adrenaline rush as you walked closer and closer to the edge to look down on the waves crashing against the cliffs.

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