Day 3: Across Ireland

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 28, 2012

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Where I stayed
What I did
The Cliffs of Moher
The Irish Coast

Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today began at 6:30am.  The four of us had a quick breakfast and headed out to our bus pick-up point, which was a viking ship sculpture a couple of blocks from our hostel.  We climbed on the bus, and instantly knew we'd made a good choice in booking the tour.

Our tour guide had been leading tours for 17 years.  His knowledge and charisma, mixed with his typically dark Irish humor, were the perfect combination for a great trip.  Our entire day was full of useful tidbits of information, and as we passed rivers and castle ruins on our way to the coast, we were given the lowdown on Irish history, some basics of Irish (Ireland's native language, which people in the U.S. call Gaelic), and facts on the landmarks and towns we were passing.

Through some amazing twist of fate, our entire day was full of blue skies and sunshine.  This meant that when we arrived at our first stop, the Cliffs of Moher, the already stunning view was completely breathtaking.  It is easy to see where Irish mythology comes from; these jagged rocky cliffs, which plunged hundreds of feet into the sea, were the perfect setting for epic tales. 

After stopping at the cliffs, we drove up the west coast of Ireland along the sea.  The scenery started as lush green farmland, divided by long hand-built stone walls that penned in scattered cattle and sheep. However, before too long, the green gave way to rocky fields with few scraggly plants and scarce animal life. This area wasn't good for farming, and when the potato famine hit, this area was affected the most.

A couple of hours north of the Cliffs, we stopped in Galway for two hours.  The city of Galway is about as close to the U.S. as you can get, and oddly enough, it seemed more American than the rest of the country.  There are three universities there, and about 70% of the population is under 30.  However, almost everyone in this region speaks Irish as a their first language, and English second.  The Occupy movement has a notable presence here as well.  If Boston is comparable to Dublin, then Seattle is comparable to Galway.  While we were there, we stopped for fresh seafood, and took a brisk walk along the river before heading back to the bus.

This has been our last day before heading out to Slane to volunteer at the Rock Farm.  Tomorrow, we check out of our hostel and hop a bus to the country.
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