“I hope you will not be washed away by the Irish Sea.”
-Henry David Thoreau
As I sat on the edge of the 100-meter cliff of Dún Aonghasa, I couldn’t help but hope the same as Henry David Thoreau. Looking out at the open ocean, I felt my worries melt away. Open sea has a way of making you feel carefree, without a trouble in the world, and at the same time immobilize you with the fear of falling in and being swept into the deep blue. As I stared off towards the horizon, the modern world started to drift away…
One of the many stereotypes surrounding Ireland is that it is a magical place where mysterious things happen and dreams come true. This fantasy world is built by stories of leprechauns and movies featuring lush, rolling, green hills akin dark mischievous forests, however there is also something very real amidst the Hollywood glamour. Ireland, specifically the West, has this strange power to make you feel as if you’ve transported to the past. Dún Aonghasa, built around 1100 BCE, is an ancient Celtic fort located on Inis Mór, disguised as a pile of rubble. As I sat, feet dangling, I imagined myself as a Celt, looking at the same sea almost 3000 years in the past.
Leaving the fort, I was brought forward in time, but not quite to present day. The landscape of Inis Mór brings you to a far less distant past. The island is divided into rectangles of all sizes by beautiful Irish stone walls. Inside these man-made pastures small herds of sheep, cows, or single horses or donkeys can be found. Dotted along the island are thatched roof cottages and modern stone houses alike, all very different from the traditional wood-frame houses we live in back home in Vermont. Not only did Inis Mór keep me rooted in the past, the whole city of Galway was a trip to the past. Though many of the stores were very modern, quaint shops and pubs lined the cobblestone street along which most of the building facades met my expectations of an “Irish” town.
After a weekend in the west, I returned to Dublin and was faced with the harsh reality of the modern world. Looking back at the West, it felt like I had been on the edge of the modern world. I had the comforts and convenience of modern life, yet the beauty and whimsical air of the past was with me the entirety of my stay.