Okay so maybe I did have another post somewhere hiding inside me. Well, I’m quite glad I decided to leave Sligo because on my way to Galway I got a text from Greg that he was in Galway too, so we ended up meeting up again and that was great! Especially since I was already feeling a bit down, my last 3 days of this incredible journey!
Turns out he was booked in the same hostel so once I checked in we went for a stroll on the town. It was a pretty day turns out, not too much rain and the clouds broke a few times to give us some spectacular sunshiny warmth. It was really weird/interesting for me to be spending an extended period of time in Galway City when I’d only ever spent a few hours here and there, mostly to kill time. This time was much more relaxed. Much less planned. We walked up and down Shop Street listening to street performers and reminiscing about the most ridiculous times we had in Donegal. We went into the big church at the edge of the city center and marveled at it’s massive structures and high ceilings. It started to get dark (only around 4 or 5 as it begins to do at this time of year in Ireland…) but this brought a chilly wind and I wasn’t wearing a jacket. So we shivered back to the hostel picked up some warmer gear and head back out in search of MORE Traditional music. I can’t get enough of it. We found it at the first bar recommended to us, but had to leave after a pint and a half because they didn’t sell food and we were starving! Somehow it was an adventure finding the second bar recommended. We eventually stopped to ask a group of men standing outside of a pub and they practically jumped into our arms they were so enthusiastic about giving us directions. I mean like 4 or 5 of them were talking over each other to give us directions. After about 10 minutes of that, the one quiet guy of the group leans in and says, “There aren’t many people on those roads that they’re tellin’ ya. It’d be a bit louder,” now in a whisper, “safer, if you go this route.” The other guys stood there telling us not to listen to him but needless to say we heeded his warning and went the long, more populated route. Though, I doubt anything would have happened to us since my entire time in Ireland I’ve never once felt unsafe or a loss of control.
Well we eventually found the pub, ordered a bottle of wine and a (small) large and overpriced pizza and sat at a
high top getting shnockered and listening to the ridiculously hillbilly Irish band playing on the stage. We seemed to be the only ones listening and clapping for them even though the place was packed!
The next day, I got some actual shopping done. Good ‘ole gifts for the kids back home. Unfortunately, I also had to buy another bag to bring home with me. To check. I doesn’t feel like I’ve acquired so much stuff while here, but the more I look at it, I think it will just be easier to check a second bag rather than trying to stuff the bags to the brim. There was a wonderful outdoor market going on, much like the one I worked at in Moycullen, and I walked around there and ended up making friends with this awesome guy who makes jewelry by hand in a workshop next to his caravan. He actually really resembled what I would imagine Eustace Conway to look like. – I recently bought (and recently finished) another book by Elizabeth Gilbert called The Last American Man, which is about North Carolinian, Eustace Conway who lives a completely self-sufficient lifestyle in a tee-pee in the woods. – That should probably give you a good idea of the physical appearance of the jewelry man, though his name was Simon. He talked up the vegetarian lifestyle and argued that not eating meat brings you closer to God and helps you to fine tune your psychic abilities. While we talked, a man from another stall joined in, I’m almost sure just to tell me the story of how he lost 4 fingers…it wasn’t even a great story! He just slipped one day while cutting wood and, “chopped the damn things clear off.” He was the second man I’ve met here that is 100% Irish but could pass for a deep south good ‘ole boy. Strange.
I knew the rain was coming soon, as everywhere I went people were talking about hunkering down for the potential floods to come; and I wanted to spend as much time outside as possible since it had been raining so much lately. I walked in and out of every store and stopped for every street performer. My favorite though I stood and listened to for a good hour in the freeeeezing wind! Mikey & The Scalawags. These two guys stood on the tiniest posts and played guitar and banjo and sang all while balancing and they were damn good too! I looked them up as soon as I was on the internet again. Well, I planned that afternoon well because just as I started to get weary from the cold and walking around all day I started to head back just in time for the torrential downpour and umbrella-wrecking winds that ensued. I took a nice hot shower and prepared myself to go out for a pint and a read, THE moment I stepped out of the hostel with my umbrella up, the one I’d just bought because the other was damaged on the Slieve League cliffs, turned inside out and 2 of the damn metal posts snapped.
That night, I was starting to feel very sad again about coming to the end. Greg had left that morning so I was all
alone again AND it was lashing rain and wind was howling BUT I told myself to get over myself (HA!) and I braved the weather and went out. I ended up in a pub very close to my hostel since it was raining so hard and my umbrella lost it’s effectiveness at the first slight of wind. I had a pint and wrote as per usual and after a while got up to leave, but just as I was passing by the bar decided to finish the last 20 pages of my book over another pint. Let me tell you, if you ever want to get people to talk to you at a bar, try to finish a book there. Sheesh! You’d have thought I was a damn celebrity so many people were asking me questions! – And you know I never did end up finishing it because one of the people, Mansi, an Algerian born and raised in France, clasped onto my attention for the rest of the evening. After finishing the pint, we ended up walking all around town and hitting a few pubs along the way for some live music.
And finally, I FINALLY made it to the Cliffs of Moher. One of Ireland’s most popular natural wonders, that I lived the closest to for all of those weeks and never made it to. Funny little story…just before my tour bus was leaving I decided to run to the ATM down the road just in case. Just as I’m getting my money out, I turn and I recognize these two guys from Rainbow Hostel in Dingle! What are the chances! Greer and Nate from California just graduated high school in May, worked all summer to save money to backpack around Ireland for a month. I met them my last night in Dingle and we only spoke for about an hour or so as it was late at night and I left early the next day. Even funnier, they were getting money out for the same bus tour that I was going on! So I spent my day with these guys and we had a blast. They witnessed my never-ending clumsiness as I feel 4 times between the cliffs and the bus. In my defense it was raining and my boots had no traction on the slick pavement and muddy hills…ANYWAYS, it turned out to be a great day and the cliffs were absolutely breathtaking.
I’m here now, back on the farm in Ballinasloe. I gotta say it was strange after these weeks of traveling from foreign place to foreign place to return to this area and farm and house that I’ve come to know so well. I got lots of hugs and smiles when I got here and that really felt great. God, this journey has been amazing and better than I could have ever imagined in all my wildest expectations. I am so very thankful for every single experience I’ve had these last 2 and half months. Though I’m very sad to leave this great, green country I am certainly looking forward to seeing everyone back home and catching up and all that good stuff. I love you guys!
- Ireland has daylight savings too! The clocks “fell back” an hour in the wee hours of Oct 31st!
- Dundalk, Co. Louth is the biggest town (not city) in all of Ireland
- Co. Louth is the smallest county in all of Ireland
- To my shock and slight dismay, there was no exception to watching Sunday Night Football (American Football) in the pubs on Sunday.
- Four people have died at the Cliffs of Moher from falling over the edge.
- The stone walls in Ireland were not originally meant to be barriers. Rather, the rocks in the middle of the farming fields were so plentiful that they used to just stack them all to one side to get them out of the way.
- Irish people LOVE Barack Obama and LOVE asking me about him
- I’m going to really miss people’s reactions when I speak, especially when I say my name. Shocked by the accent but immediately, “Ah but ye must have some Irish in ya with a name like that.”
- Cahill, one of our Irish family names which we pronounce Kay-Hill, is pronounced Cah-Hill here.
- Cead Mile Failte (Kade Meala Fall-Ta) is written everywhere here and it means in Irish, A Thousand Million Welcomes.