I got back from my Shamrocker tour of southern Ireland yesterday; what an amazing 5 days! I was really looking forward to it, but I had no idea that the tour would be as much fun as it was. There were about 25 of us on the tour (mostly Aussies, Americans and Canadians) and everyone was a lot of fun to travel with. We were really lucky with the weather (never truly got rained on, so un-Irish), saw heaps of beautiful sights and drank plenty of Guinness.
Day 1: Met in Temple Bar, drove to the Rock of Cashel (disappointing), then to the Blarney Castle. We had phenomenal weather at the Blarney Castle and were more than happy to roam around the plentiful gardens. We then went to Killarney (our stop for the night) and explored the Killarney Provincial Park while the weather was still warm. We had a good night at a pub watching the storytelling theatrics of Pa (a man who yelled a lot) and then headed over to The Grand for dancing, music and drinks.
|About to kiss the Blarney Stone|
|The crazy Pa and I|
Day 2: The weather of the second day was disappointing at all the wrong times. We drove the Slea Head drive, which was named the most scenic drive in the universe, but unfortunately we could hardly see in front of the bus it was so misty. We did stop at a beach where we dipped our feet in the water. Legend has it that when you get your feet wet at this beach, a piece of your soul goes with it and you have 20 years to come back and retrieve it. The drive is on the Dingle Peninsula, and once we got back to the town of Dingle the weather was, once again, glorious. For the rest of the day we had beautiful weather for the sights of Co. Kerry as we made our way to Ennis. In Ennis we had a lovely family dinner and then some of us went to watch some Irish music. It was a fairly tame night for me, but I heard that people were out until 3AM again that morning - those Irish know how to party!
|Leaving some of our souls in Ireland|
|Admiring the scenery in Kerry|
Day 3: We didn't have far to drive on this day, but we made plenty of pit stops and saw the sights as we drove to Galway. My favourite was the Fairy Ring that we saw. Belief of fairies is well and alive in Ireland (especially in Co. Clare, the most superstitious county) and we were warned plenty of times by our guide, Dave, that we were not to mess with the fairies and enter the ring. There was a stump where the fairy tree used to be, and we heard a couple of stories about the misfortune of people that had messed with it. One man on a tour thought it would be funny to pee on the fairy tree stump, and when the group got back to the bus the bus refused to start. They had to wait for a couple of hours for another bus to arrive. Once they had loaded the new bus, that one wouldn't start either. Apparently the group went through 5 buses that trip, all unable to start! Another story was about a person that entered the ring and kicked the fairy tree, and when walking about he fell and broke his leg. Lucky for us, everyone on our trip was well behaved and nothing bad happened.
We then went to the Cliffs of Moher, which was realllllly cool. I was sort of nervous because we were warned that every once in a while an unfortunate tourist falls off the edge, so I went nowhere near the edge (I'm not that stupid) but we got some good photos. It was more of a photo op than anything else, but it was still cool to see. While it was misty, we were lucky that we could see the cliffs. That night was spent in Galway listening to Irish music and talking to the locals - probably my favourite night of the trip! The craic was ninety-one!
|At the magical fairy ring - doesn't look like much!|
|Staying far from the edge at the Cliffs of Moher|
|Trad music in Galway|
Day 4: Another beautiful day! We woke up early to catch the bus and boat to Inis Mór (the largest of the Aren Islands). Most of us rented some bikes and biked up a path until it got too rocky, then we got off and walked to the scenic cliffs of the island. It was incredibly gorgeous! We explored about the cliffs and the old fort there, then all went to have lunch at one of the three pubs. If the weather were bad that day, I would say that we wouldn't have even made the effort to go out to the island and would've stayed at a pub in Galway. I was so happy that we got warmth and sunshine! It was a relaxing day and nice to not be on a bus all day. We spent the night at the same pub as the night before (The Front Door) and had another great night - our last night all together.
|The boys on the boat|
|Beautiful day in the Aren Islands!|
|Enjoying the scenery. Don't worry, it was safe to go to the edge here!|
Day 5: The people on the 7 day tour left in the morning, so I woke up to say goodbye to them. The day was our own, as we had to catch the bus back to Dublin at 2PM, so I wandered about by myself. I had been to Galway before, so I knew my way around. I went to the free Galway museum, which was interesting, but I went just to find a way to kill an hour. Then I wrote some postcards in the cutest little teahouse I have ever seen; I want to go back to Galway just to try everything on the menu!
|At the Galway Museum|
|How cute is this?!|
I'm having my leaving party tonight (sniff sniff) and it'll be sad to say goodbye to everyone. I cannot believe that my year in Ireland has come to an end! It went by much too quickly, but I know I will be back to visit some day. It's a beautiful country full of beautiful people, and I am lucky to have lived here for a year of my life.
Next stop: Berlin!