• Mckenzie Dow

I don't play the fiddle in an Irish band, and I didn't fall in love with an English man

Through my study abroad job, I recently had the opportunity to travel to the West of Ireland with a group of college students studying abroad in Dublin. It was only a one night trip, but fortunately Ireland is small enough that you can still see and do many things in a short trip. Half of the group are tourism students, and the other half are engineering students. This meant that the range of activities on the trip were diverse enough to be relevant to both groups.

Our first stop was Mount Lucas Wind Farm, just outside of the town Edenderry. The wind farm was actually really cool. There was a presentation to our group about how the turbines were transported and built, a long with the impact on the local communities. I found the visit to be very informative and learned a lot. For example; apparently the turbines of a wind farm can often cause this problem called shadow flicker in nearby homes. This is when the sun casts a shadow from the spinning blades into a nearby home or building and it's extremely annoying. This used to be one reason that people would get so mad about the wind farms, but now, there's technology that can fix it by shutting off the specific turbine facing the direction of the home for the amount of time it takes the sun to pass by the blades.

(Apologies for the shit pictures, was using my iPhone not my camera)

We also learned about the ways the wind farm company gets involved in the community. They dump loads of money into local organisations. Also, neighbouring homeowners receive special benefits from the company. Thos benefits stick with the home, so if it changes owners, then whomever is actually living in the home at the time gets those benefits. Pretty neat huh?! Also, I think there is a perception that wind farms are really loud, but I was standing right next to one and could BARELY hear it. That's right, I was standing next to a steel wind turbine and could hardly hear it.

After the wind farm we made our way to Galway. The rain cleared up and we made it in no time. This was my third time in the small city, but it was just as enjoyable as before. I went to this used book store called Charlie Byrnes that was AMAZING! It had such a huge selection for very affordable prices.

After dinner with the group, I went for a late evening stroll as the sun was setting. I could have gone to a pub and settled there, but I'm not charismatic enough to go plop myself in a pub alone, and I had no intentions of going out with the students because that would just be too weird. A few of the students came along for my stroll and I was happy to show them around a bit.

Galway was absolutely gorgeous at this time of night. You could music floating through the streets, the sun was lighting the sky up with hues of pink, and decorative Christmas lights around the place gave the city a dreamy atmosphere.

Galway is in the west of Ireland, meaning many of those Irish traditions are more prominent in this area. More people in the area would be fluent in the Irish language, especially since a few Gaeltacht areas are in close proximity. (Gaeltacht areas are parts of the country that speak Irish as a first language, rather than English). Traditional Irish music is also a lot bigger in this area when compared to Dublin. The concept of the Claddagh ring comes from Galway as well and three stores in the city all compete for the claim as the original distributor of these world famous rings now. To read more about the Claddagh ring, click here.

The following day, we left earlier in the morning to make our way to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are one of Ireland's most famous and most visited attractions, so it was a very relevant site visit for our tourism students.

On the way we stopped at small castle in Kinvara. It was called Dunghuaire Castle. It was right on an inlet of the ocean and you could stroll all around it. A swan could be seen floating in the area beside it and fortunately the rain stopped pouring down as we got off the bus.

After the castle, we conquered corkscrew hill and made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. As we made our way, we went through the Burren. This is a national park of woods and large limestone hills that go on for ages. It is very beautiful to drive through, especially as the sun shines down. I took a time-lapse of a few minutes of the drive, which can be found below!

Finally we made it to the cliffs!

The cliffs were especially beautiful because the weather was incredible. I bet for most visitors, this is not usually the case as Ireland isn't exactly known for its great weather. I could even see the three Aran Islands. These islands are known for the famous Aran sweaters that are super toasty and made from the sheep wool. As usual, the cows were roaming around loads of pictures were being snapped.

After taking a few pictures of the cliffs, I went inside and used a free lunch voucher I had to enjoy a nice lunch while all of the students roamed around on their own. The restaurant and museum is actually built into the side of the hill, so you don't even know it's there until you're right about to walk in. As I ate my goats cheese and onion quiche, I soaked in the views of the cliffs.

On our way home, I fell fast asleep, probably dreaming about the next time I would be in the west of Ireland.

Oh! For the reference in the title of this post, check out the song Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran.

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