Galway

Like many other days, today was very busy. We planned (somewhat last minute) to venture to Galway today, so we needed to catch the CityLink bus from Dublin at 7:45am. Ireland is not a large country, so traveling from Dublin to Galway (basically coast to coast) only took about two and a half hours.

It's smaller than Illinois.

All of us slept nearly the entire ride, and I’d say the most exciting part of the trip for me was putting in my contacts in the minuscule bathroom on board the bus. While it was moving.

We arrived in Galway a little after 10am, with pretty much no plan. The trip was spur-of-the-moment enough that we hadn’t had time to elaborately plan out every moment of the day. Luckily as soon as we got off the bus at the station, a coordinator of a bus tour asked if we would be interested in the O’Neachtain Tours day tour. He offered it at €15, and then upon realizing there were nine of us, knocked it down to €10. We later found out that the price for students is normally €20, so we were happy with our decision to go.

The tour left at about 10:30, and drove from Galway to Oranmore, through Clarenbridge and Kilcolgan, and made its first stop at Dunguaire Castle on Galway Harbor, which still hold Medieval Banquets occasionally, simply because it can.

It's the most photographed castle in Ireland.

The grounds were really cool, and a little creepy in all the fog. Next we traveled south through Kinvara and into Poulnabrone Dolmen where we stopped to see the Portal Tomb. The tomb is older than the pyramids, and was used by Stone Age dwellers to bury the dead. The ground was covered in uneven rock which made the trek back to the tomb a little difficult, and the area was surrounded by cattle which made the whole scene a little bewildering. The structure itself was very cool.

My affinity for standing in front of ancient stone structures continues.

We passed Leamanagh Castle, which was one of the best defended structures in County Clare when the British invaded. Of course, it eventually fell and Oliver Cromwell took Leamanagh for his own. We drove through Kilfenora, and Lisdoonvarna, which is home to the Matchmaker Festival each September and draws roughly 2.6 million young singles looking to be matched. We stopped for lunch at Fitzpatrick’s Pub in Doolin where we had the best seafood chowder I’ve ever had (read: shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, and cod with brown bread).

Our next stop was to the Cliffs of Moher. I was very excited about this because visiting the cliffs were on the top of my list of things I wanted to do while in Ireland. Unfortunately, it was extremely foggy.

So while I should have seen this...

...I saw this.

Like I said, it was one of the top of the things on my list, so I was pretty disappointed, but I did get a nice pair of Aran knit mittens, so I suppose it wasn’t a complete waste.

As soon as we left the cliffs it became painfully obvious that there wasn’t any fog anywhere else in the county. Our driver felt bad that we missed out on Moher, so we stopped at Ballyvaughan Cliff for a few minutes. It wasn’t Moher by any means, but it was still very cool.

We got to go as close to the edge as we wanted!

After Ballyvaughan, we drove past Blackhead and saw the many limestone and granite sheets, and then headed back to Galway. By this point it was about 5:30 and we were all dead tired so we headed to the bus depot and boarded the 6pm CityLink bus back to Dublin.

Unfortunately, this bus was not a direct line, and went south and through all sorts of little towns making stops every ten minutes or so and effectively doubling our trip back.

Accurate.

The best news from all of this is that I don’t have class tomorrow, so I can finally sleep in, and despite missing out on some things I really enjoyed our trip today.

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