As I quickly explained in my post 2020 – Travels Aplenty, I have been living with two people for the past year and a half who have strong ties to Ireland. Killian because he grew up and studied there and Louise because she did her undergrad there (with Killian). I thought it would be a missed opportunity not to visit the Emerald Isle with the two of them before I jetted off for Asia (assuming that will still be possible considering the global situation at the moment!).
Killian and I flew out on Wednesday evening to Shannon, the nearest airport to his family home in County Clare. His parents live completely in the countryside between Lahinch and Ennistimon. It’s a stunning region with few people but many bucolic vistas. When I think of rural Ireland this is exactly what I had pictured in my mind. Rolling green pastures, low stone walls and the occasional tightly packed village with more pubs than people.
We spent the first day there driving round seeing the highlights of the region. We saw the incredible Cliffs of Moher (one of the things I was most excited to see). I knew they would be impressive but I really was blown away! (not literally)
I no doubt bored Killian half to death by comparing them with all the other great cliffs I’ve ever seen. These were however by far the most dramatic, the most brooding, the most intimidating. We walked along the top of them for a little while and were treated to some intermittent sunshine, something I wasn’t really expecting. Western Ireland is renowned for its wet weather and I had resigned myself to the fact our trip could be a total washout. We were visiting in March after all. But we got lucky!
We visited a few of the towns in the region and also visited Doolin Cave, one of the many limestone caves found underneath the Clare countryside. It’s the proud home of the world’s third largest freestanding stalactite. Now, the thing with Ireland is that it seems to be home to many of the “World’s Most something-or-other” but as we pointed out, when you add enough qualifiers to something, it’s not hard to be the best in the world. Like this is the most popular blog written about travelling by a 27 year old British male who also plays the saxophone… in the world! What an achievement.
The next day Killian’s mum kindly drove us up to Galway. After visiting the town I’m a little confused as to why it is so well known internationally. Not knocking the town at all – it’s lovely and very quaint. But it’s much smaller than I had expected. After walking around for an hour or so, Killian and I spent the rest of the time waiting for our bus to Dublin in an Irish pub drinking. I mean, it would be a shame not to when in Galway.
We spent the weekend in Dublin. Many of Louise and Killian’s friends from university have settled here so we spent a lot of time hanging out with them in various restaurants, bars and clubs. Dublin is no megacity, but it seemingly has plenty going on and no shortage of fashionable places to hang out.
I have visited Dublin before – for one night back in 2012 – so some of the landmarks were familiar to me. Nevertheless, Killian gave me a very comprehensive tour of the city, taking in all the most impressive sites. It’s quite a beautiful city and highly walkable. It was especially great to walk around Trinity College Dublin with Killian who is an alumnus himself. He could tell me all sorts of interesting stories about what it was like to study here. Conclusion – more fun than it was at Imperial College London.
Visiting Ireland had been a great idea and the trip went off without a hitch aside from one of our friends losing her phone on the night out. Visiting places that your friends have called home for long periods of their lives is so rewarding and the best way to get to know them better in my opinion. I also think it’s absolutely criminal how little the average Brit knows about Ireland. We never get taught its history in school and everyone kind of just forgets about it. I think Ireland is the one country in the world where I feel most ashamed to be English. It’s the least we can do to learn about the horrible stuff we did here!
Killian had been an exemplary host and guide to my trip to Ireland, and his parents had also been very generous in hosting me in their home. Guess I’ll have to add it to the list of places I need to revisit one day!