Okay, so I know that I haven't even finished writing about Cork yet, but I just got back from Western Ireland and I really wanna talk about it. Need to talk about it.
Because it was amazing.
It was beautiful in so many different ways, and I had one of the best nights there that I've had in Ireland so far. (Um, my roommate Ashley and I ran around downtown and talked to random people. Except we weren't ourselves. She was Megan Kelly from New York, and I was Sarah Nilap from Alaska. Shush. It was fun. We made up this huge back story, too. You probably had to be there.) I think Galway's my favorite city ever, pretty much. (Basically, if I had to describe all of the Irish cities I've been to really, really quickly, it'd be like this: Dublin: busy-indefinable, Belfast: quiet-friendly, Cork: crunchy-mellow, Galway: jovial.) But Galway's the last place we went to, so more on it later!
Our first stop was a fairy ring in County Clare.
You aren't technically supposed to go in the middle of fairy rings-- it's supposed to be wicked bad luck-- but we all did, anyway. Apparently, actual Irish people won't even go inside them, though that might just have been something they told us to make the ring more exciting.
Take that, fairies.
We didn't stay long, but it was fun. The only thing missing was a bit of fairy sighting.
We went to the Burren, next. It's a region in Count Clare that's, well, barren. It's nearly all scraggly, grey rock. You can walk on it for ages.
I sort of fell in love with it. It's just so different from anything you would expect to see in Ireland. I mean, everyone (hopefully) knows that Ireland isn't just one huge green field, but I wasn't expecting this desolate expanse of stony hills and flatlands. But it was gorgeous. I don't even know how to describe how atmospheric and beautiful and just different it was, but it really was all of those things. We were only there about a half hour, but for most of the time, I just sat and watched the world. It was incredible how quiet everything was. I mean, technically, it wasn't. There were lots of people around, and they talked and laughed and did all sorts of other normal people stuff, but in this place, all of that seemed muted, and the slight wind took precedent over their noises.
I thought it was fantastic how there could be these long stretches of stone, and then, suddenly, there'd be all green grass again, like nothing had ever happened.
Oh, and there was an ancient tomb, too!
It was pretty chill.
So were the Cliffs of Moher. As an Irish person would say, they were grand.
Western Ireland is supposed to get twice as much rain as the east, but half of the time we were there, it was hard to block out the sunlight. It was like that at the Cliffs, and they really looked magical.
See those orange specks of people? Coast Guard. Not completely sure what they were doing, but none of us fell off (because of the fairy ring, you know), so it wasn't that!
The next day, Saturday, we went to Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands, and I really fell in love.
Inisheer is way in the distance. You can't completely see it, but it's there!
We took the ferry, which was fantastic. I love being on boats, really love it. I love the waves and the smell and just everything about it. But once we saw Inisheer, even I was stoked to get off it and start exploring.
I only have a few pictures from Inisheer, which totally guts me. They hardly even begin to capture the astounding beauty of the island, and they're all from the first ten minutes after docking. Inisheer's small, but not that small. But my camera was acting up and there was nothing I could do about it.
Things I have pictures of:
A house with a thatched roof.
A lonely red cart and the ocean.
The start of the masses of stone walls, and frolicking.
Things I don't have a picture of:
The friendly cow that came to us when we called it. The rest of the stone walls that cover the island unrelentingly, rolling up and down over hills, and everywhere else. The castle I climbed on, and then got stuck on. (It was terrifying.) The grave yard with the 10th century old church underneath. The shipwreck. The pub we had lunch at. The yellow fields of dandelions. The two island dogs that followed us everywhere, alternately begging for attention and happily chasing one another, again and again. The craic.
At least, once we got to Galway, my camera was working again. Well, for a while.
I adored Galway. It was the most cheerful place I've ever been to, I'm pretty sure. We got there at around 5 in the afternoon, and straight away, half of everyone on the street was drunk. Cheerful drunk. We're-all-one-big-family drunk. It was fun.
It was happy. It got to the point that we (my two roommates and me, this time) would just walk down the streets, across the rivers, laughing at nothing but the fact that we were laughing. Being in Galway that first evening actually sort of felt like being drunk, but without having to put down money for alcohol.
It was sort of wonderful. (Especially since I'm pretty broke.)
And beautiful. Seriously, Galway is a gorgeous city-- maybe the most colorful one I've ever been to. The stores and cafes were all popping with color.
Check out the doors!
There was art everywhere.
The graffiti was awesome.
I found boats!
And there was a farmer's market. (I got a Cloddagh Ring!)
Even Galway's paintings are bright!
But in the end, this sign described Galway best:
My one disappointment? I didn't get to hear Galway Girl played in Galway!