After a tiring day of hopping from bus to train, I am back in my apartment after a really fun weekend in Galway! From wandering the beaches of the Aran Islands to getting a drink at the Kings Head pub, here’s a look back my weekend on the west coast.
First of all, I have been wanting to go to Galway for a very long time now, even before I saw the “Galway Girl” music video by Ed Sheeran. The music video take you through the streets of Galway, which I wandered through on my own time. The different store fronts and pubs were so colorful, I instantly fell in love with the layout of the city.
Arriving Friday afternoon, we checked into our hostel and set out to check out what the city had to offer. The first place we explored after eating a very big lunch was the Claddagh District, placed right on the water looking over all the boats and seagulls littering the rough seas. The winds were high and kept whipping my hair in and out of my face. The water was so blue, but it was moving so fast, I wondered how the seagulls were able to rest. What started out as a clear blue sky quickly turned grey and rainy, typical Irish weather.
If the name Claddagh sounds familiar, you may know the famed Irish Claddagh Ring. I was lucky to be gifted one, and some local Irish people were surprised to learn I got mine from New York, not across the street. The design of the hands, heart, and crown symbolizes friendship, love, and loyalty. It also shows the status of your relationship by how you wear it, and they have been produced since the 1800’s.
After drying off from the sudden rain shower, we decided to wander around and hop from pub to pub to see what Galway had to offer. We visited The Kings Head pub, supposedly the oldest pub in all of Ireland. It has been standing for over 800 years, and it was a lot of fun to hang out and listen to the live music.
We ended our night early, for Saturday morning we got up early to go on the Wild Atlantic Way tour. At 9 am sharp, we arrived at the bus for the tour, and that ride was a wild one. The roads just outside Galway became very narrow, and while it was clear the bus driver had experience navigating the winding curves, I couldn’t help but hold my breath when we saw a car coming towards us. The country side was so green and full of different livestock, I couldn’t stop starting out the window.
We safely arrived at our first stop, a ferry to the smallest island of The Aran Islands. Some might recognize the name Aran from the famed Aran sweaters, which many irish and tourists wear in the colder months of winter. I know my family would tend to break them out around St. Patricks day as well. We visited the island named Inisheer. This place was home to two hotels, one pub, and one store along with the houses of the people who inhabit the island. The main language of the island was Irish, and I heard the few locals having conversations in that confusing language during our explorations of the island.
The waters were so blue, and the sand so soft, the grass was a luscious green, I couldn’t get enough of the view. The sun was warm and the winds had calmed down, it got everyone in a great mood.
We made our way back to the ferry, and for some reason we decided to stand at the front of the boat. I wish I had stayed inside, for the waters suddenly got very choppy on the way to the Cliffs Of Moher. The excitement to see the cliffs from the bottom quickly disappeared when the water jumped up out of the ocean into the boat. I found my entire right leg soaked with salt water, but still kept a positive mood when our tour guide started to tell us about the majestic Cliffs of Moher.
If you’re like me and knew nothing about the cliffs other than they are beautiful, here are some fast facts I learned on my crazy ferry ride. The cliffs are over 300 million years old! The name Moher also means nothing, it’s just the name of the guy who would bring people out to show the beauty of the cliffs many years ago. I saw where they filmed a scene for The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. The very ferry I was being tossed around on was the same ferry the production crew of Harry Potter rode on during filming.
After taking a short unplanned nap on the ferry, we got back to shore and back on the bus to visit the top of the cliffs. My fear of heights kicked in as we started to walk along side the trail without the guarded rail. I couldn’t get too close to the edge without my head spinning at the thought of one misstep could lead to a 700 foot drop. I was able to tough it out and take some amazing photos of the jagged cliffs, but still made sure to keep my distance. The sun managed to peek through the clouds and shine down on the grass creeping up on the cliffs edge, and I watched the waves crash into the ragged rocks down below.
After a very long day wander the coast of Ireland and seeing how truly beautiful the Emerald Isle is, we boarded the bus one last time and went back to Galway city. Driving through Lisdoonvarna and passing many sheep and cows, our bus driver successfully navigated those tough Irish country roads.
After a short nap, our night then involved more food, music, laughs, and of course, drinks. Some may be shocked by this, but this city got me to break my streak of never eating any type of seafood. I tried fish and chips, and let me tell you, it was not too bad! Then I was reminded by my father while fish and chips is hardly seafood, I’m taking baby steps everyone.
I left Galway wanting more. While I feel like I spent so much time there, I’m already looking into my schedule to see when I can go back and get another taste of this little city. For now, all I have are pictures, memories, and an Aran sweater to keep me warm. I may be in Maynooth, but I’d like to say I’m a Galway Girl at heart.