Going west is a concept we have all heard of. In America we think of the wild wild west, the cowboys, and the rustic lifestyle. It is an escape from reality, a chance to press pause on life and be with nature. This weekend I took part in this phenomenon of a journey west as I traveled to Galway and the Aran Island, Inishmore. After briefly visiting Galway city last week I was excited to be back and to follow a guided tour. I always love learning about the cities history of the streets I am walking. I feel much more informed and connected to the space, and have a much greater appreciation for the significance of the area. In particular, I enjoyed hearing about the history of the salmon industry and how its decline really impacted any fishing the coastal city had. I also really enjoyed how livly the street life was. From the street musicians to the pubs, the streets were bustling with energy. Our tour guide explained that Galway claims itself as the cultural capital of Ireland, and based on my experience walking the streets I could see how this stereotype may be true.
From Galway we took a ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Islands which remain very culturally traditional compared to the mainland of Ireland. After an hour-long Ferry ride we landed on the Island and checked into our hostel. Having not stayed in a hostel before I was unsure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the nice amenities and quality living quarters. Once we were settled we headed to the only pub on the Island for dinner and live Irish music. I was beyond excited to finally hear actual Irish music, and spend time in a small cozy pub. It was really fun to watch the locals interact with one another, some even danced with their significant others. I felt how close knit the community was, everyone knew one another and genuinely cared to catch up on their lives. I felt like I was accepted into this loving space and was grateful for it.
The next morning was filled with excitement but the reality of the Irish weather made our experience a bit difficult. Biking ten miles in pouring down rain was not glamorous but the view from Dun Aengus was breathtaking, making it worth the struggle. While I won’t be biking in the rain anytime soon, it was a good test of endurance as well as dealing with not ideal circumstances. Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to the island if you want a truly authentic Irish experience.