Tag Archives: Galway

Trip To Galway – Alex Dfouni

8 Oct

Growing up within a close proximity to New York City, I have never been much of nature-lover. The trip with N.U.in to Galway surprised me in that aspect to say the least. The actual drive toward Galway from Dublin confirmed the rumors that claim Ireland is full of cattle and grasslands – both of which were amazing sights to an urban-raised person such as myself. When we arrived in Galway itself, it felt like a tighter-knit Dublin; the comfort of being in a city returned. Even more so, Galway was smaller. Having the city center near the hostel in which we stayed for the weekend was extremely convenient. Compared to the week it took me to get to know my way around Dublin, I was able to feel right at home in Galway after a single night.

The next morning we immediately set off on our coach bus toward the dock in which we would board a ferry toward the Aran Islands. I can count the number of times that I have rode a ferry on one hand so the ride to the Islands was a thrill in itself for me personally. Upon taking in the breathtaking scenery whilst arriving on the islands, I instantly noticed how undeveloped the civilization was. In respect to the total population of 900 people, each little town (if they could even qualify as that) had 3 businesses at most – all very friendly to the common tourist. The majority of our exploration of the island was in the form of a tour only lasting several hours. The group visited the island cemetery, the one graveyward in which every citizen on the island was buried – a very eerie feeling. Plenty of history is left behind, scattered throughout the islands in the forms of ruins, potato plantations, and monasteries. Toward the end of the tour, we had the pleasure of visiting the Fort of Dun Aonghasa – the cliffs within the fort were the icing on the cake to an amazing and unique experience.

The agenda for our second morning in Galway had an equally thrilling destination in store for us – the Cliffs of Moher. On the way to the cliffs, our culturally enriched tour guide recommended stopping at the Aillwee Cave. Even more exciting, this was the first cave that I had been into, personally. As we explored the dark, wet path with a guide, bats could be seen in the distance flying around near the roof of the cave – yes, I instantly threw my hood on. Unfortunately the weather on our second day in Galway was the foggiest weather that I had experienced as far back as I could remember. Once we arrived at the cliffs themselves, it was tricky finding vantage points in which we could see the water crashing into the sharp rocks below the cliffs. However once I finally found the courage to look over the edge themselves my body was instantly numbed with adrenaline. I can still close my eyes and see the tremendous drop below myself as my head peered over the edge of the cliffs.

Galway was definitely a surprising experience for me overall. Although I had expected to be disappointed by losing a weekend in Dublin, I believe that without the memories that I have in Galway now my experience in Ireland would not nearly be as authentic. The biggest surprise of all was my love for the amazing scenery – something that I had never cared for back home. This first visit to Galway, Ireland will definitely not be my last.

 

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In the West of Ireland

30 Sep

Day 1 Over the River Shannon

On Thursday, 19 September 2013, we departed the city of Dublin to the west coast of Ireland County Galway in the province of Connacht. As I looked out the window toward an ever-changing landscape, I watched as three hours transformed the charming Dublin cityscape to a lusher, greener panorama. The endless green cascading over the gentle hills seemed like that of a picture – the intense beauty blocked by a glass pane. The sunshine bathed each blade of grass in a glow that made me feel that the beautiful weather was truly due to the luck of the Irish. This was the vision of Ireland always swirled in my mind. This was it.

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When we arrived into Galway and settled into our hostel, “Snoozles,” the city felt quiet, deserted almost. It felt like that of a small town, smaller than Dublin. The city centre comprised of mainly a single street speckled sparsely with musicians. The nightlife was nothing of much excitement, but the sites we would see the following days would make up for the disappointment tenfold.

Day 2 County Galway

 

On Friday, first on our itinerary were the Aran Islands at Kilronan, Inis Mor. During the ferry ride to the island, I hadn’t known what to expect; I only knew that the islands were home of the infamous traditional Irish wool sweaters.

On the island, dividing up plots of green, little stone walls marked boundaries everywhere of varying sizes. These remains of a dark time during the 17th century established the dauntingly tangible reality of the Potato Famine. Due to the famine, the island, originally home to about three thousand people, had its population whittled down so severely, that still today, only nine hundred inhabitants live on the island.

Seacht Teampaill, or the Seven Churches dating back to 8th century. An astounding site, rich in history and religious significance, the site was transformed into cemetery over the years as an Irish token toward preserving their cultural heritage. (Our guide noted half-jokingly that the waitlist to have one’s children buried in these grounds are so competitive that it can be compared to how parents in the States strive to get their children into colleges.). Celtic crosses sprouted from each head of the graves, decorated with rose bushes and personal remembrances. The story behind the Celtic Cross especially piqued my interest as it revealed how closely religion and history are so intertwined in Irish culture.

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Dun Aengus, one of Ireland’s most infamous pre-historic forts brought us back in time to the period in which the people that came before the Celts were in existence. The structure of the stone fort set on the cliffs was truly stunning. As there were no railings or evidence of modern contamination, I felt so enclosed by the beauty of nature; I sat on the cliffs hanging over the edge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of meters below.Image

Day 3 County Clare

As the sun set on Friday evening, it did not seem to rise in the morning as we embarked to the Cliffs of Moher.  A thick fog settled over the cliffs, and what was supposed to be a sight even more spectacular than that of Dun Aengus was instead suffocated by a blinding grey.

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At the Aillwee Caves, I was awestruck by stalagmites and stalactites, and water formations. We were beneath a large mass of land in a cave once completely flooded and kept secret for thirty years after its discovery.

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Day 4

Before we left the west of Ireland, I had the chance to view Ireland from above, walk clockwise around a Fairy Fort and make a wish and visit so many incredible historical sites that some only see in National Geographic.

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A Dolmen

– Julia Le