G A L W A Y was definitely the right choice for my nearly two months in Ireland. With so much surrounding scenery to discover, for example the C O N N E M A R A region, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Plus it’s on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Connemara National Park is one of my happy places because it’s serene. I had peace and quiet all to myself.
Enjoy clicking through my brother Bellamy’s snapshots from Connemara, one of Ireland’s gems. The beauty of Ireland is that there are only 4 million people living there, leaving a whole lot of space for you to focus on Mother Nature. (That is, so long as you leave tourist hot spots like Dublin.)
The Connemara National Park will forever be etched onto my mind as it was an autumnal colour sensation – full of rich auburns and burnt oranges throughout the fields. Autumn was just starting to creep in. Once I discovered the residue of leftover rain which had left a glistening film and created a silver coating on the grass, I knew I was in a place quite unlike anything I’d seen before.
My Grandma came from Ireland – many, many moons ago. She’d emigrated from the north of Ireland to Australia back in her twenties. She’d had a hard upbringing, with more siblings than you’ve ever had friends and less food on the table than you could imagine. Still, being in Ireland, even after hearing her wretched tales, I was struggling to see anything but its natural beauty. Somehow, even though she’s now gone, I can still hear her accent and voice in my head when I look at pictures of the Irish landscape. I guess that’s the power of connecting visuals to a person you love.
I’m lucky to say that I inherited my Grandmother’s Irish citizenship. And when I say ‘inherited’, I mean it was a downright nightmare for me to do it back in 2013. I honestly would never wish that experience on my worst enemy but hey, I’ve already decided to write an enormous article about it – as a form of therapy. Interestingly, one of my main reasons for heading to Ireland was to discover my ‘roots’ and to find out what part of me was ‘Irish.’ (Okay, essentially I am 25% Irish but I am figuratively speaking.) When I left, I actually felt less Irish than when I arrived – that’s not a bad thing though! I absolutely fell in love with the entire country and its people.
Below, I’d like to share my (mainly) positive points about living in Ireland and more specifically, Galway.
My opinion: Here are the major selling points if you want to consider visiting Ireland:
- The people: they really make the place. They are so incredibly cute and hospitable but yet have a wacky and dry sense of humour. You’re guaranteed to have a ‘right’ laugh if you make friends with a group of lads in the pub, as I did.
- The scenery and landscape is astoundingly beautiful. Forget 50 shades of grey – and have a look at their 50 shades of green. I didn’t realise it was possible to be able to see so made shades. I guess coming from a particularly dry and humid part of Australia’s coast has only helped me to be familiar with one kind of colour – BLUE a.k.a the ocean.
- The food is actually really good. Forget your ideas about British and Irish food being foul and boring. There is an absolute rise of ‘gastro-pubs’ and no, I’m not talking about a dodgy pub where you actually contract gastroenteritis. I’m talking about the word ‘gastronomy’ in connection with food you’d order at the pub. Expect to find some pretty tasty things on offer around the country’s pub scene, including many delicious micro brews such as craft beer and cider.
“Gastronomy is the study of the relationship between food and culture, art of preparing and serving rich or delicate and appetizing food, a style of cooking of particular region, and the science of good eating.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastronomy
- Irish music is a real blast: who doesn’t love to be three beers in, feeling slightly merry when all of a sudden a group of good looking men in their thirties appear on stage in the most positive and upbeat mood. Since my trip to Ireland, I’ve even got a Spotify playlist of Irish ‘tunes’ for those cloudy, moody days. One of my favourites from the pub was the classic ‘Galway Girl’. As I was based in Galway for six weeks, this song seems only appropriate to recommend.
- The pub scene: let’s put it lightly. The Irish do love a drink and they aren’t ashamed to show it. Well I suppose this next point belongs in the ‘negative’ section as I did ashamedly have a ‘moment’ with a drunk 18 year old girl at a fried chicken restaurant one evening. It was 3AM and she cut in front of me in the most un-Irish of ways. (I.e. without the usual politesse and sweet Irish demeanour.) I was hungry and wanted my chicken. But the fried chicken faux pas aside, the more these people drink, the more friendly and open they become… if that’s even possible.
- Having lived in a relatively socially-shy country like Germany for the past 6 years, I had grown accustomed to not speaking to strangers, let alone striking up conversation with one. Ireland virtually showed me on day one that this was a no go. I happened to make instant friends with Dublin’s town drunk on my first evening. To my surprise, he told me my Grandma was a traitor for having married my British grandfather. Perhaps he, in his drunken state, had failed to realise that this made me one quarter British.
- The Irish will rarely be offended if you make fun of them (warning: this goes for *friends*) or if you try to show them your best Irish accent. They are a self deprecating bunch, much like the British and the Australians. Although I still don’t agree with my friends’ poor view of my Irish accent, we can at least amicably agree to disagree. They are also most willing to give an impromptu and rather cringeworthy rendition of the ‘Aussie’ accent. I will never forget how each individual hair on my body stood on end when my Irish friend Simon tried to do a ‘G-day’. *Insert painful emoji here* I tried to be sympathetic, empathetic and kind – so I told him, “That was shit.”
My opinion: Here are the negative points to consider when visiting Ireland:
- It’s actually pretty expensive. I spent thousands upon thousands of euros while living in Galway for six weeks. That’s partly because I was doing a training course and also partly because I didn’t have proper access to a kitchen. *Long story, and I’ll save that one for when we have a coffee together.*
- The weather: I’ll be blunt – you don’t come to Ireland for its weather. In fact, I found its wild wind and many grey skies to be beautifully melancholic but I can’t be bothered moving this point back up to the ‘positive section.’
- The homes are not the best made in Europe. Still to date, I’ve never experienced a better made house than the average German home. They are solid, well insulated and not made of paper. Honestly, sometimes I thought that I may as well sleep outside I was that cold in Ireland. (This was in November mind you.) The house I was living in epitomises the metaphor of: “paper thin walls”.
As I can’t really think of any other negatives (and why should I?) So on that note, I’ll end this post by saying that my 7 weeks in Ireland was such a delightful experience and I hope all of you will go and explore this marvellous country.
/ / Phoebe/ /
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For some information on what to do in Galway and its surrounds, I’ve written many other articles:
The yellow raincoat (pictured) is my personal favourite: it’s the Helly Hansen “Kirkwall” jacket – It’s 100% waterproof and I also bought it in blue while I was in Stockholm one time.