Ireland – Our First Trip – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[The ruins of Moore Hall, the home of the first Irish President, in Carnacon. Some of those in our group used that conveniently placed log to the left of the entrance to climb into the building.]
Our first trip outside a half-hour radius of Louisburgh was a success. We went to Galway for the weekend as a group.
Our trusty bus driver Owen actually was late Friday morning because his bus broke down and he had to get a replacement. With an hour and five minute delay, we set off. During what should have been a two hour drive, we instead stopped many places along the way, such as Moore Hall and Yeats’ Tower and arrived in Galway just eight hours after we left Louisburgh.
We checked into our B&Bs (there were too many of us to stay in one, so we split up among three) and walked as a group about ten minutes to get to the city center. Compared to Saint Paul, where I am from, a city of 80,000 people is not the largest place for me. However, after being in Louisburgh for three weeks now (a town of 800), Galway felt like home. There were restaurants, pubs, and shops all along this main street, similar to an outdoor mall. Cars weren’t allowed down the main street, so people milled about.
Our large group split off as we wandered down the street and eventually I and five others found a pub that looked promising. The food was delicious, but we didn’t spend too much time there because we had plans to meet up with other people in a different pub. We walked around a little before deciding to try a pub that advertised live music. There, we actually ran into a good chunk of the rest of our group. We snagged one of the last open tables and by complete coincidence, the people at the table next to us were also American. We found out they were studying at the university in Dublin through Penn State. Because they only have class Wednesdays and Thursdays, they’ve spent the rest of their time traveling around different places. It was interesting to run into other Americans. It was similar to how I feel when I run into other Minnesotans when I’m in another state back home, a mixture of surprise and happiness that someone else understands where you’re coming from. None of these people were from Minnesota, but the sentiment still applied.
The second day we were off bright and early to get to the Cliffs of Moher which were about an hour and a half south of Galway. I think I’ll let the picture speak for itself here because I wouldn’t be able to do it justice.
[One side of the Cliffs of Moher]
We weren’t even able to hike to the very edge of the cliffs because we ran out of time and it was a very long way to go. Every view that we did see, though, was breathtaking.
That day, we also saw the Portal Tomb, which is an ancient burial site. The informational sign at the site said that when a section of it needed replacing, 33 bodies were found that date back to 4200-2900 BC- the New Stone Age. The bodies probably had been moved there after a while because there is no evidence of decomposition in the tomb. More than likely, it was a ritualistic place that involved the movement of bones.
[The Portal Tomb]
We returned to Galway and had enough time to shop a little and eat dinner before we went to see Urinetown. It was a satirical musical which was definitely interesting. I don’t think it was the best production I have ever seen, but that was more due to what I find humorous. The cast was wonderful, they all sang and danced great and had perfect American accents. Everyone in our group was a little puzzled when, at the end, three people took about half an hour to thank everyone involved with the production. I have not seen an incredible amount of plays, so I was not sure if it was normal or not to thank everyone on the last night of a show. However, my professor said he was as baffled as us, as to why they thanked every possible person.
The rest of the night was ours to spend as we saw fit, even though it was already nearing 10:30. Luckily, the night life in Galway didn’t seem to pick up till midnight at the earliest, so my friends Arden and Victoria and I explored an authentic night out, which was a stark contrast to our tiny home base of Louisburgh.
Our professors took pity on us Sunday morning, letting us leave at 10 instead of 8:30 like the previous day. We ate our last meal at the B&B and set off for a few more places to see before returning to Louisburgh. We stopped in Cong, a small town where some of the scenes from The Quiet Man, a John Wayne movie, were filmed. The town is very proud of that, with a statue immortalizing him along with many shops named after the movie in various ways. Ashford Castle also resides in Cong, a castle from the 13th century. We were only able to see it from across the river that runs along the castle, because a guard patrols the bridge and collects the €10 charge to see the grounds.
[Ashford Castle. Now a hotel for the very, very wealthy which I am not.]
As amazing as it was to see Galway, I was ready to return to Louisburgh. It’s amazing how, in such a short amount of time, a place can already feel like home.
Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.
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