Irish Travels: Part Five

So I’m going to admit that Part 4 of my adventures was a little rough and could benefit from a little bit of revision, however for the sake of getting on with the show I will do my best and repent for the sins of my past by ensuring the quality of this post is that much better. And so, we set the stage for our next adventure: Inis Mor.

If you are looking to travel back in time, then Inis Mor is the place for you. Inis Mor is a large island amidst a group of islands referred to as the “Aran Islands.” The island is accessible by ferry from Galway, and has everything from prehistoric forts to lush green pastures. It is a history buff’s dream come true! The one catch when visiting this island was its unpredictable weather. Prior to our arrival, we were warned by our tour guide to dress for weather ranging from sunny skies to torrential downpours, and everything in between.  You see, the weather on this island apparently had a mind of its own. Bearing this in mind we layered up in preparation to whatever weather this grand island would bring.  Luckily for us, the gods were on our side. As we stepped off the ferry and onto the port, our fears were calmed as the partially cloudy skies informed us that today the weather would be on our side. You see, during my time in Ireland, I had learned that Ireland was not a very sunny place and cloudy skies were pretty much the equivalent of a sunny day anywhere else in the world. Unless the clouds were dark and menacing you were in the clear. And so, with the weather on our side we began our bike tour with our guide throughout the island.

As we rode across the island, our guide spoke of the prehistoric forts around us and the civilizations that built them. As we passed by these massive stone forts, it was astounding to see how well preserved some of these walls remained and their grandeur. Although I have never seen the pyramids in Egypt, I would like to think that my reaction upon seeing these fortresses would be similar to someone seeing the Great Pyramids of Egypt. To see these forts up close and touch the rock slabs, makes you feel connected to all those before you. It boggles my mind that before modern technology was available, civilizations were able to create such grand structures in attempts to defend their lands and establish their dwellings. Interestingly enough, these forts were more than military structures and often acted as spaces for ancient druids. It is said that the most famous fort Dun Aengus was used for seasonal rites of druids and is believed to have been where bonfires were held that could be seen from the mainland of Ireland.

After we spent lunch amidst the land  where the ancient druids once performed ceremonies on and soaked in some sun (you heard me right, there was actually a clearing in the sky for a brief moment), our tour guide deemed the bike tour complete and let us roam free across the rest of the island for a couple of hours on our own. As everyone slowly dispersed, my friend and I decided to continue biking and see what other beautiful sights we would see. As we continued to ride along rugged roads, we came across a small inlet beach at the island. While it may have not been a beach from Cuba, I was grateful for a moment to give my legs a rest and feel the sand beneath my toes. As someone whose only fitness routine at the time was getting out of bed, I was absolutely exhausted. After a much needed rest of walking down the shoreline and dipping my feet in the waters, I was ready to head to the ferry back to Galway.

Now, for the adventurous individuals out there, I urge you to check out the wormhole in Inis Mor. It is a natural rectangular shaped pool of water in which you are able to cliff dive into.  Be warned: the waters are icy but the experience is worth it. Although I did not visit the wormhole (as my swimming skills are mediocre, and I refused to bike anymore), some of my tourmates did take the plunge and expressed great enthusiasm over doing so. As we headed back to onto the ferry, it was time for a nap. After being out until the wee hours of the morning and sleeping for a brief hour or two the night before, I quickly fell asleep for the rest of the journey back to our hostel in Galway. The next day would be full of new adventures, and so with the promise of tomorrow being great, I gave into my exhaustion and turned in early.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irish Travels: Part Four

After a late night out with the locals and tourmates the night before , it was time to bid Derry farewell. That morning we were headed to our next destination: Galway, Ireland. Contrary to popular belief,  Galway was actually made famous by Steve Earle’s song titled “Galway Girl” long before Ed Sheeran came around. After Earle’s song was featured in the film “P.S I Love You” it became a sensation and can often be heard in pubs around Ireland. That being said: For the love of God, do not ask them to play this song. Despite truly enjoying this song, it becomes significantly less enjoyable after hearing it five times in one night. Rest assured, there will always be a tourist who will request it and you will get your fix.

Now before we arrived in Galway, there was one very important stop on the way: The Mountains of Connemara, specifically, “The Twelve Bens.”  As the name suggests, it is a mountain range consisting of twelve mountains with a water filled valley in the centre. These mountains captivate your attention and snap you out of the haze that is brought upon by only sleeping for two hours the night before. They demand your full attention. Wrapping my scarf tightly to my neck, I was overcome with a sense of tranquility. With the mountains as our only companions, time stood still and the stresses of every day life dissolved. Life was good. It is moments such as these that I come back to during times of hardship to remind myself that total tranquility is possible and that they will come again.

Galway, Ireland

After being cleansed all of life’s troubles in the mountains and sleeping the rest of the way, we arrived in Galway, Ireland at last.  Out of all the cities in Ireland, I have to say that Derry and Galway are two of my favourites. What drew me in most about Galway was it’s Latin Quarter. This section of the city is beautiful with it’s cobblestoned streets, tiny boutiques, pubs, and great restaurants. As you walk down the cobblestone streets, shop signs command your attention with their bright shop faces in bright assortments of yellows, blues, greens, and every colour of the rainbow you could think of. One cannot help but be cheery when walking in Galway. In addition bright coloured shops and cobble stone streets, there is often street entertainment to be found in Galway as individuals sit perform in the middle of these walkways for all those passing by. During the warmer weather, patio seating is opened up so that individuals may enjoy the entertainment going on around them. Whereas, The Connemara Mountains provided me with the tranquility I needed, Galway was waiting in arms reach with all the entertainment and joy I could possibly imagine. Regardless of whatever mood you may have been in prior to entering Galway, you are sure to leave Galway with a smile on your face. For those looking to learn some of Galway’s history, take a moment to visit Galway’s City Museum. Within the museums’s walls you can learn about archaeology, art, natural history, along with Galway’s maritime history.  Galway is a place for adults and children alike and is a city that should not be overlooked when planning a trip to Ireland. Stay tuned for my trip to Inis Mor.


(Above: Latin Quarter- Taken from Trip Advisor page about Latin Quarter)


Art found in Galway City Museum 


Spanish Arch in Galway