the destination for day one in ireland was dingle town, a little hamlet on the south edge of the dingle peninsula (which means i drove across the entire country in one day). i spent the evening wandering around dingle’s charming, flag draped streets. i ate shepherd’s pie in a pub and read my guide book. when it got dark, the musicians came out to the pubs and as i drifted from building to building, the traditional irish music wafted through the misty air. it was as cool as i just made it sound.
i slept in a bunkbed in the hideaway hostel and wished so much for clearer weather in the morning for my scenic drive along the peninsula. the weather had worsened in the morning. but i decided to enjoy the enchantment of the fog and imagine in my mind’s eye what all this prettiness would look like under the clear blue sky when i return to ireland one sunny day. the road was brushed with wildflowers and perched on cliffs.
despite the fact that i was pretty much driving through a cloud, i squealed in delight at the views while blasting “celtic romance” and stopping every few minutes to hop out of the car and take a picture. practically no one else was on the road. i loved how isolated and wild i felt. at the end of the loop i got to see a perfectly preserved 12th century church (below) and another chapel and graveyard (below below) as it began to rain. i imagined these places lit by candles and filled will the chanting of monks. i can’t believe the depth and intrigue of irish history.
the main reason i wanted to go to the west side of ireland was to 1) see the famous cliffs of moher and 2) ride a bike around the aran islands. as i drove and the weather got worse i realized biking might not work (if the ferries to the islands were running at all) and just crossed my fingers for a good look at the cliffs of insanity (yes, the very ones from princess bride). i drove through more towns and wildflowers and green:
and then i reached the parking lot for the cliffs just as people were running to their cars to get out of the wind and rain. i braved the elements and walked to the edge of the earth and happened to snatch this quick misty view of the landmark:
which was lucky, because in the next couple of minutes, this (left) is what i could see and this (right) is how i felt about being pushed backwards by amazingly strong winds and being whipped in the face by rain.
i walked over to the tower, usually a great place to catch a spectacular view, but that day just a mystical sight in a cloud. the whole time i was thinking, “this will make my experience more memorable!” “it’s an adventure!!” “this is only making everything more dramatic and romantic!” “this means i’ll have to come back to ireland, which is a good thing!” i kept trying to convince myself that this was awesome, that even though i got charged $300 extra for my rental car, it was worth the trip…until finally i submitted that actually “this just stinks.” sigh!
on the way to my hostel in galway, though, i found this neat castle, and i blasted the music and i sang, and i was tired and i was happy to be in ireland.
galway feels so medieval. i walked the streets in the rain and took in all the flower baskets, colored buildings, cobblestones and 10th-15th century nostalgia.
there’s a part of galway called eyre square. of course i had to go there. it was funny to see all the signs with my name on them. also. awesome self-timer pics in the pouring rain.
i pub crawled again, and found even better music in galway. i really liked being smashed in the tiny pubs and the livelihood of the music.
i did end up eating soggy chips at a pub whose music never started, and i was so exhausted … and then a sweet old irish man came up to me and asked me to go get a pint with him. i fell asleep on the top bunk as music from the street seeped through the window. phew! a bit of a roller-coaster day on the emerald isle.