Tag Archives: galway

Irish Travel Journal, Days 7-10

This post is part of a series detailing my trip to Ireland. You can view the whole series here.

We left Galway early in the morning and drove to the monastery at Clonmacnoise. Although it is now in ruins, Clonmacnoise was an active monastery and pilgrimage site from 600-1600.

After a quick tour in the freezing rain, we piled back into the warmth of the bus for the drive to Dublin. There, I finally got to see the play I have been desperately wanting to see ever since I first read it 6 years ago – Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman.



To make the evening even better, I met up with my friend Kat at the theatre, since she had flown over from Scotland to spend a few days in Dublin with me.

She brought her Polaroid.

Kat brought her Polaroid.

The Pillowman was everything I had hoped it would be and more (which is saying something, since my expectations were very, very high). The actors were phenomenal, the set was well designed, and the costumes were on point. I loved it.

The set of The Pillowman at The Gaiety

The set of The Pillowman at The Gaiety

And did I mention that we had front-row seats?

After the play, we took the freshmen to the historic Shelburne Hotel (the 1922 Irish Constitution was drafted in room 112) for a discussion of the play.

The Shelburne Hotel by day.

The Shelburne Hotel by day.

The next morning we visited the Book of Kells at Trinity College and took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, where 14 men were executed for their roles in the Easter Rising in 1916. These executions – and the stories around them – turned the tide of public opinion toward the Republican cause, and led to the election of 73 Sinn Féin party members to Parliament in 1918 and their subsequent formation of the Dáil (an independent Irish Parliament).

The rest of the afternoon was free, so Kat and I wandered around Dublin to catch up and enjoy the weather.

That night was another play, Death of a Comedian by contemporary playwright Owen McCafferty. The play was shown at the Peacock stage, which is the blackbox theatre associated with the historic Abbey Theatre.

From a production standpoint, the show was excellent. The sets were minimal, creative, and well-executed, the lighting and sound effects were spot on, and all 3 actors were talented and well-cast. The script, however, left something to be desired. The play started strong, but felt unfinished. As Dean Killen put it, there was thesis, antithesis…but no synthesis.

The next morning, on my last full day in Ireland, I met Kat for breakfast. As always, the time went by too quickly.

Selfie on the Trinity campus.

At noon, I met up with the rest of the group for a quick trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a drive out to Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin, to visit Joyce’s Martello tower, where the first chapter of Ulysses is set and where we read out loud the first chapter of Ulysses.

We spent the afternoon and evening in Dalkey, before returning to Dublin for our last night.

It was hard to feel good about waking up on my last day in Ireland, but wake up I had to. After one last Irish breakfast of fried eggs, baked beans, and grilled tomato, it was time to load the baggage onto the bus for the trip to the airport.

Once we arrived, it was a long series of lines – To check in. To get through security. To get through USA pre-check. To get through customs. To board the plane.

To fly home.

My tour of Ireland was complete.

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(for now)

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Irish Travel Journal, Day 6

This post is part of a series detailing my trip to Ireland. You can view the whole series here.

The next morning was another early start, since we had to catch the ferry out to Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the Aran Islands.

It was a bumpy (and sleepy) crossing on the way there, but by the time we arrived the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. On the island we met up with Bertie, our tour guide for the day, and climbed onto his little bus for the ride up to the top of the island.

After depositing us at the end of the road, Bertie left us to continue on foot on the path up to Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus), an old fort built right up to the edge of the cliff at the island’s highest point.

After spending some time up at Dún Aonghasa taking pictures, enjoying the view, and staying away from the edge, we walked back down to the tea shop for lunch. Just like I had 6 years ago, I ordered the soup and brown bread.

On the bus ride back down to the water’s edge, we briefly stopped at the Seven Churches, which is a site containing the ruins of just two churches.

The ferry ride back to Galway was much calmer, and Cigi and I spent most of it sitting in the open air on the top deck.

Back at the hotel we were joined by a seanachaí, or Irish storyteller. He travels all around Ireland, collecting traditional stories and legends from old people before they are lost. He shared some of those stories with our group – stories about fields that would trap people inside if they strayed into them at night, about being cursed by having the rats set on you, and about confounding the rats before they could work their ill will. He also told us stories about collecting these stories, and about the people he has met during his travels.

The stories were all spellbindingly told, and the seanachaí himself was a fascinating character, with thick glasses, long wild hair, and an even longer beard that was split right down the middle. Unfortunately, the room we were in at the hotel was brightly lit, huge, and freezing cold, which made it difficult to properly appreciate both the stories and their teller.

After storytime, we rushed off to the warmth and grease of McDonagh’s for fish & chips (with mushy peas, of course!).

Once we had eaten all we could, Cigi and I headed across the street to Taaffes for a pint and some traditional music.

Continue on to Days 7-10

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Irish Travel Journal, Day 5

This post is part of a series detailing my trip to Ireland. You can view the whole series here.

Cigi and I woke up early the next morning so we would have time to explore the castle grounds. After trying out our fancy shower and eating some more whiskey porridge for breakfast, we set out to explore.

We made our way down to the formal gardens, and looked out over the lake from a small balcony set into the wall.

On our way back, we discovered the ruins of the original Mac Raignall clan castle from the 12th century, but unfortunately didn’t have time to linger – as it was, we barely made it back to the main castle in time to get back on the bus.

The ruins of the original castle.

The ruins of the original castle.

We drove from the castle to Galway, and stopped in the suburb of Salthill for lunch at a local brewpub and a walk along the water.



After checking into our hotel in Galway proper, we wandered up and down Shop Street and, appropriately, did a little souvenir shopping before dinner and a quiet night in.

Continue on to Day 6

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