Bright Lights, Big City: Journey to Galway

Posted on January 15th, 2014 by

This morning, I woke to the usual rainfall that occurs in the Burren.  Remembering this was the day we were headed to Galway, I excitedly packed my things for the next 3 days into a backpack and anxiously waited for our bus driver, Brian, to bring us to the new city.  I was excited to know that we would have a change of pace, away from the rocky landscape of the Burren.  On our way to the city, our first stop was at Corcomroe Abbey that dates back to 1194.  It was a huge building with intricate architecture in the walls and arches and is still used as a graveyard.

Corcomroe Abbey

Corcomroe Abbey

After observing the historical Abbey, we passed by Colman’s monastery, Kilmacduagh, “kil” meaning “church” in Irish.  There was a tall round tower that is still intact and was used as fortress to protect goods from the Vikings, which is why the entrance was so high off the ground.   Since Monday was our last day of studying Yeats, we were fortunate enough to be able to go to his tower, Thoor Ballylee, and see where the inspiration for his poems came from.  Unfortunately, it is flooded now so we couldn’t go in, but we were able to walk around the base of the tower.  After observing his tower, we stopped at Yeats’ life-long friend, Lady Gregory’s house in Coole Park.  There was a tree there that had the engravings of famous authors who were involved in the Irish Literary Revival, including Yeats.

Yeats' tower

Yeats’ tower

After this, we continued our journey to Galway.  When we arrived in the city, I think it came as a shock to everyone because we hadn’t been around such a populous and crowded area for so long.  The tall buildings and loud noises of people in the streets made it apparent that we were definitely not in the calm and quiet of Ballyvaughan any longer. Brian then dropped us off at our hostel, called Sleepzone.  Each room was equipped with 3 bunk beds and a bathroom.  I have never stayed in a hostel before, but I heard these ones are much different than American hostels.  I asked Sarah and Becca how they felt about them, and they told me, “They feel cramped, but warm.  I was terrified because of the horror movie about the hostels and had a bad image in my mind.  But after being here I am pleasantly surprised.”  We met up for lunch at Maxwell’s where the majority of the group enjoyed a hearty American plate of chicken and mac n’ cheese.  This was our last group event of the day, so we were released and left to roam the city.  The city was packed with little stores of jewelry and clothes, street performers, and of course food.  I was overwhelmed with all of the options on where to go and thought to myself that it’s a good thing we didn’t stay here the whole time or I would go broke from wanting to try all of the places and buy everything.  When I asked Allise how she felt about being in the city, she said, “There’s a lot more to do here, which is fun for a study abroad trip and more to experience.  I’m a little overwhelmed though because there’s a lot more people here than in Ballyvaughan.”  When Leah talked about the city she said, “I don’t like having to pay to use the bathroom,” which came as a bit of a shock to her.  Since 30% of Galway’s population is students, there were people our age everywhere, which was also refreshing and made for a fun night out at the pubs.  Most of us met up at the King’s Head for live music and drinks.  I would say the first day in the city was a success!

Live music at the King’s Head pub

Galway nightlife

Galway nightlife

 

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