Ireland and a Refreshing Amount of Green!
by Heidi Obermeyer
This is going to be a super long, picture-heavy post- just get ready for an intensive photo tour of Ireland! 🙂
Morgan and I decided, after being cooped up for all of January in München (white girl problem!) that it was time to book a new adventure. We picked Ireland, a place neither of us had been but that I was keen on going to after absolutely loving my trip to London in November. We got in around noon and got into town and our hostel with enough time to go check out the Book of Kells at Trinity College, or, as some guidebooks jokingly called, it, “the page of Kells” (because only 2 pages are on display at any one time, most of your admiration is directed towards giant reproductions of the best-known pages). The book was pretty neat, but what really brought us to Trinity was the long room library where the Book of Kells is housed. Photography isn’t allowed (cue sad Heidi), but check this baby out!
It was a book lovers dream and such a beautifully done space. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t super accessible (you have to stay within the ropes that you can see in the picture above, and they don’t even go down the entire room) but it was still really neat to see a super old library.
Now onto some of my own pictures (and I took A LOT- it was hard to resist after a dreary winter in München in such a sudden appearance of green things!)
We started off in Dublin for 2 nights, which, after seeing the countryside and Connemara, was way too long to have spent not outdoors and out of the city in this country! I didn’t dislike Dublin, but it felt like this beautiful old Irish city that had this strange, grimy layer of globalization that made it hard to see what it was really like. I can’t really knock chain stores (hey, who doesn’t love H&M?) but in Dublin for some reason it felt like the city’s identity had been given up to make way for lots of chain retailers.
The official language in Ireland is Gaelic, which I didn’t know up arrival (I just thought it was also spoken there or was an official language in conjunction with English). That means that all signs either need to be in Gaelic or in Gaelic and English. It’s pretty cool!
We went looking through an older neighborhood of Dublin too, so there was still some neat old stuff left in the city:
And there were, of course, tons and tons of pubs around. And harps or harp signs. The Irish seem to like harps.
After 2 nights in Dublin, we decided it was time to venture out- across the entire country (which only took 2.5 hours coast to coast) to Galway, a smaller, spunky little town with a nice pedestrian downtown. Plus it’s close to the water, so it has a really coastal feel too. It was really pretty!
When we got to Galway it was like we had arrived in the Ireland I had been waiting for the entire time in Dublin. So much prettier!
Not to mention spring has sprung in Ireland, and it was so nice to see what we have in store for us here in Munich in the next few weeks! It’s still fairly dark out there but you can see some bulbs popping up around the city, so I’m excited for those to start blooming.
One full day in Galway we spent doing a “coach tour” of Connemara. Coach tours are awesome because you are allowed to just fully embrace your tourist identity with zero shame and go take a ton of beautiful pictures! It also worked out well for us because we couldn’t rent a car (you have to be 25) and that is absolutely the best way to see Ireland. It was so nice to just drive through fields and look at sheep for an entire day! Haha.
My favorite part of the tour was the amount of gigantic ruins we got to see! I like visiting surviving castles too, but ruins are just so AWESOME! The one below is a monastery that’s just out in the middle of nowhere (we had a rather concerning trek down a one track road to get to it on a huge bus) but is so worth the trip. The roofing on these buildings is usually gone and vegetation springs up all around them, which makes for a surreal experience walking through room after room with sunshine streaming in.
I think this one may have also been a monastery, or perhaps a church. We didn’t get as much time here, but as you can see, again with the no roof thing!
Ireland also has a very respectable amount of cute and quaint houses that just make you happy. Here’s one!
This is a view of actual Connemara when we were REALLY out in the middle of nowhere. It sort of reminded me of Colorado if Colorado had a lot more rain and sheep. It was very hauntingly beautiful. I think it would be great to come back and go riding here or hike some of the paths that go through Connemara National Park and other really picturesque areas of Ireland.
We also had a really cute encounter with a Connemara pony! Our bus driver comes by here every trip and honks the horn when he’s coming down the road and then the pony races the bus along the fence until we all pile out and give him an apple. It was Youtube quality animal cuteness, guys.
Our touristy bus tour cumulated in visiting Kylemore Abbey, a mansion turned boarding school turned Abbey. It was very imposing and mysterious, just out there in the middle of Connemara.
The Abbey’s construction created a ton of jobs for the region when it was built, so it was a really beneficial project. Plus, the rich guy who built it did so in honor of his wife. Awww!
The really impressive part was the extensive gardens, which even had a wall. It was like I was inside the Secret Garden! I used to love that book when I was little. Unfortunately we were there a little early for anything to be in full bloom, but even with a lot of the garden in a winter slumber it was still really impressive.
Daffodils were all over. It made me extremely happy.
I’ve decide that broken things are always charming in Europe. Broken pots in America? Trashy. Broken pots in Ireland? Photo op!
And some more daffodils! Look how nice they are! Don’t you just feel better about everything?
And here’s one last shot of the greenery before we wrap up here…
Anyway, that concludes the trip pretty much! I then flew back to München and Erik got in the next day and is here right now, so we have been exploring around town and are headed to Paris tomorrow. Ireland was amazing and I will definitely be returning at some point, but probably after I turn 25 and get some experience driving on the opposite side of the road. It was such a beautiful place to just look at and relax, and a really good way to get going on traveling for the semester break.