For the weekend of January 23, 2015, a large group of international students, including myself, ventured to the inviting city of Galway for a few days of adventure. Having spent the past three weeks in densely populated Dublin, Galway was an intriguing escape. The city may be the sixth most populous city in all of Ireland, yet it instantly felt homey with narrow streets and one-of-a-kind shops and street entertainment.
For the first day of our adventure, we were free to wander the streets and explore all that the city had to offer. Galway, lying on the River Corrib in the West of Ireland, has beautiful watery landscapes and some of the friendliest people. In comparison to Dublin, the area has much fewer people, (75,529 versus Dublin’s ~1,273,069) and vastly more rural lands and natural monuments, awarding the city well-deserved bragging rights.
The first of the city’s natural gems that students saw were the Aran Islands, found at the mouth of Galway Bay. While I was sick during this excursion, I learned from friends’ anecdotes and pictures that these islands are remarkably beautiful and filled with historical relevance. Ancient walls of limestone dating back approximately 350 million years surround the three islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer. These walls are used to contain local livestock on the small islands.
Finally, our last stop in Galway was the city’s famed Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs may be known for their appearances in The Princess Bride and Harry Potter, yet their raw scenic views cannot be captured on film. The cliffs reach their maximum height of 214 metres above the Atlantic Ocean and are ranked amongst the top visited tourist sites in Ireland. Even with dirt and wind, the hike to the top was well worth the climb.
– Kate Nichols