Cliffs, Hills, and Sheep
This past weekend I headed to the west of Ireland where I saw incredible scenery, ate delicious food, and met some amazing people. My three friends and I took a tour of Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher. Since Ireland is a fairly small island, it only took about three hours to travel from Dublin to Galway. The countryside was almost completely undeveloped, with animals grazing in the pastures. There were rolling green hills, just as I had expected, but there were also a lot of fields that were partitioned off by stone fences. Apparently, many centuries ago, when the father died, he would leave the farm to the whole family, instead of leaving it to the eldest. The remaining family would then divide up the land, resulting in the stone fences that still exist today.
Our first stop on the tour was Connemara, which is basically a large, undefined area in the west of Ireland with spectacular views. After driving for about 2 and a half hours, the bus driver pulled off the side of a gravel road on the top of hill, allowing us to see an amazing view.
The weather was absolutely perfect, and the crisp breeze made the view that much more enjoyable. The drive through the rest of Connemara was just as beautiful, especially when we had to stop and wait for three sheep to cross the road. At one point the sheep were actually walking in a single-file line down the side of the road! But most of the sheep we saw were just grazing or lounging around under the shade.
After our three hour drive, we went to a place called Kylemore Abbey. It was built in the late 1800s by a man who wanted to show his wife how much he loved her. A few years later she died of dysentery, and the legend has it that the husband was so heartbroken that he sold the castle. The castle, surrounded by rolling green hills and overlooking a gorgeous lake, is now one of the most popular tourist destinations, as evidenced by the many different languages we heard spoken.
The last stop of the day was Galway, a quaint coastal town. We spent the night in a hostel (our first one!), and had the chance to explore the town. Walking down the cobblestone streets, listening to the street performers, and admiring the different pubs and shops, it was almost like I was in a dream. There was so much culture packed into the few streets making up the city center that it was hard to believe it was real. One street had over 50 pubs on it, while another had over 30 restaurants. After a fabulous Italian dinner and a pint at the local pub, we headed back to the hostel to prepare for the Cliffs of Moher the following day.
Although I have heard how gorgeous the Cliffs of Moher are, it is hard to comprehend their true beauty unless you are actually there. After visiting Ireland’s largest cave dating back millions of years, we finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. We were all stunned by their overwhelming beauty. The cliffs themselves are so large, so powerful, yet so serene. They exhume a sense of tranquility, despite the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against them.
We sat on the side of the cliffs for what seemed like forever, but it was still too short. I knew the Cliffs would be beautiful, but I didn’t realize that they would be that powerful.
As beautiful as the countryside was, I was happy to arrive back in Dublin. Coming back to the city after being away for a few days makes it feel like home! That’s it for now!