Becoming a Galway Girl

I’ll be honest, for a while, the only thing I knew about Ireland was that Niall from One Direction was from there. So when it came onto my radar a few years later on Instagram, I was shocked by its picturesque natural beauty. It was soon added to my list of places to travel, and when I came abroad, it was at the top of my list for trips to book.

My trip to Ireland lasted 3 days, and was genuinely some of the best times I’ve had abroad. Beautiful landscapes, great food, and the most relaxed and friendly people I’ve ever encountered on my travels around the world made this trip truly memorable.

We spent our first day in the capital city, Dublin. We arrived around midday and went to our guest house, which was a very traditional Irish Bed and Breakfast. It was located in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Dublin and looked like a normal house from both the outside and inside. The people there were so nice, and we had a very comfortable and cozy stay.

On the way into the center city of Dublin, we were driven by the sweetest Uber Driver, who spoke to us the entire ride about our travels and experiences abroad and even gave us a ton of recommendations and tips for all over Ireland. But it wasn’t what she was asking-it was how. It is rare to find a complete stranger speak with such earnest and genuine care for getting to know someone, with no malintentions or ulterior motives. In that moment, my friends and I knew this was going to be a good trip.

Once we got to Dublin, we headed first to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Built in 1191, this world famous church is dedicated to St.Patrick and is currently the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The church’s gothic architecture was beautiful, but what was really interesting to me is how important this historical church is in modern Irish Catholic society. They have services that are regularly attended by locals, and a morning and evening choir made up of local students and community members. We got to watch their evening choir come in and rehearse for the evening show while we were there, which was a really cool experience!

After this, we walked around the center of Dublin, and paid quick visits to Dublin Castle and Trinity College Dublin. But in the words of our waitress at brunch earlier that day, the best way to experience Dublin is to walk around, go to pubs, and just enjoy what is around you. So with that in mind, we headed to the oldest pub in Ireland- the Brazen Head, built in 1198. As it was Halloween eve, we then went to a haunted house on the outskirts of Dublin. We screamed and laughed with Irish locals, and surprisingly found that this haunted house was scarier than the ones we've been to in America. After that, we went to the typical tourist stop in Dublin-Temple Bar. The loud music and sound of people laughing and dancing really shaped the mood, and we sat with our ciders under the twinkling Christmas decorations in the most relaxed state we probably have ever been in at a bar.

The next day, we took a train across Ireland to Galway, a city by the bay on the west coast of Ireland. We first stopped by the Galway City museum, where we were introduced for the first time to true Irish culture, history, and language. I was especially intrigued to learn that Gaelic is still spoken in Ireland, and it is a real mission for the Irish to keep it alive. After our museum visit, we visited the Spanish arch, the waterfront, and the Latin Quarter of Galway. The early sundown and cold, foggy weather added to the ambience, but also meant that we were sick of being outside after about 40 minutes. So, in order to warm up we headed into yet another pub. Here, we got talking with some people next to us, who again were really genuinely friendly, and wanted to get to know us. We met an older couple with a young man, who comprised of a restaurant owner from around the corner, and a well-known American weightlifter. It was a prime example of the friendliness of the Irish and the value in getting to know people.

The next day, we took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, which was quite honestly about 60% of the reason I wanted to come to Ireland. I was unbelievably excited to see these cliffs I’ve dreamed of seeing for years. So you can imagine my utter disappointment when it was too foggy to see the cliffs at all and too cold and rainy to enjoy being outside at all. We tried to catch any glimpse of the cliffs that we could over the hour and a half we were there, but with no luck (can you tell I’m still sad about this?!).

On our way back, the day was saved when we stopped somewhere along the coast of the Burren region of Ireland (I honestly couldn’t tell you where exactly we went). We were met with a coast of moss-covered rocks being hit by the gentle crash of waves. It was truly breathtaking, and almost made me forget about my completely rain soaked jacket, wet jeans and socks, and ruined hair.

Since this trip, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Ireland. It was truly one of the most unique and unforgettable places I’ve ever been. I am already planning my next trip there, where I will be staying for longer, and hopefully actually seeing the Cliffs of Moher.

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