14 Dec

Even though our last blog post ended with our last day in Europe, it skipped the center of our trip to Ireland. On Thursday morning Mitch and I were up early to catch the bus to Galway. We had a tour that took us first to the Dunguaire Castle  and next to The Barren. This is a part of Ireland famous for its rocky plateau and we visited a beef cattle farm in the area. After a chilly, but humorous walk up the mountain (Irish mountains aka slightly tall hills haha) as our guide, Daragh charmed us with his too cute Irish charisma and resistance to the chilling wind. I’m fairly certain the only one completely oblivious to the cold was the tail-wagging, happy go lucky golden retriever, Mildred. Such an appropriate name for a pup right?! We ended our tour of their grounds with some heavenly strawberry-rhubarb cake and an Irish coffee in their Grandma’s house! Now I can see why the Irish staked claim to  coffee with a shot of whiskey, coming in from that cold you not only need something to warm you up, but something to give you a little zip in your step. Leaving the farm we headed to our main attraction of the day, the Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher


While on my first trip to Ireland as a People-to-People Student Ambassador ten years ago (ahh!! I feel old!) I couldn’t wait to see the Cliffs of Moher, but when we arrived the fog was too thick to see anything. As the rain started to come in on our way there this time I was beginning to worry, but for not- it was as beautiful any picture! We walked along the entirety of the cliffs from the tower around to the other side to enjoy a look from the top. The fog definitely sets the mood for the Irish folklore, it’s easier to believe in a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow you can’t see! We finished off the day with a delicious meal at a quaint pub and were dropped off in Galway again. After a quick walk in the Christmas Market we headed off to Cork.

Cork was definitely our sketchiest hostel, when we walked in the 50 year old man in our room was watching a youtube video titled “How to get laid” so that was awkward… but after he left on his quest to get some it was same old. We woke up in the morning and headed for Blarney to kiss the infamous Blarney Stone. Blarney is a really beautiful small town and the gardens around the castle alone are worth the 12 euro entrance fee. Kissing the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift not only of Irish gap, but eloquence. One of the signs read: “Baloney is when you tell a 50-year old woman that she looks 18.Blarney is when you ask a woman how old she is, because you want to know at what age women are most beautiful.” Cute right?! Both of us kissed the stone and went for a tour of the grounds before having a picnic lunch. We did a walking tour of Cork before catching the 2 1/2 hour bus ride back to Galway.

Mitch kissing the Blarney Stone!

Mitch kissing the Blarney Stone!

Our last night on the west coast was spend at a pub just across from our hostel call The Quays (pronounced Keys). There was a really great band that played everything from American rock classics to Irish jigs. The bar was full of 20 somethings to 60 somethings all having a great irish time. We met a nice couple from Boston who introduced us to some of their favorite Irish drinks and finally called it a night around 2am. Waking up with no hang-overs was a definite plus! We were able to go on a walk out the Mutton Island Lighthouse and enjoy the ocean for a few hours before joining our free walking tour. On the tour we saw such sights as the Lynch Castle and went to the location where the first lynching took place (Apparently father Lynch hung son Lynch so when a Lynch hangs a Lynch it becomes a lynching??). Saint Nicolas Church was our next stop and had a great farmers market out front- we enjoyed some made-in-front-of-us donuts and sampled all types of interesting food. We went to the Spanish Arch, all that remains from the wall that used to encompass Galway, the Galway Cathedral, built in the 60s as the last “great stone church in Europe” and was built of old prison stones (the irony is not lost on me!) and the Town Hall.  We ended in Eyre Square where we started and where the Christmas Market was. We had just enough time to grab some lunch at a pub before we began the cross-country (albeit 2 hour) trip back to Dublin. We loved our time on the western half of the country. Galway’s average age is 25 so it’s the perfect place for everything from culture to night life. Next time we come we’ll have to head up north to explore more of what Ireland has to offer!


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Maranda Saling

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