I have had quite the weekend this past week, on Saturday myself as well as 12 others from the IFSA-Butler group who are studying here at NUI: Galway, went to the Aran Islands and toured Inis-Mor the largest of the islands. We met the bus at 9:30am, and had an hour long ride out to where we were to meet the ferry. The bus ride was neat because I was able to look out on one side and see Galway Bay and on the other look at the houses and all the low stone walls that divide up the countryside into small plots of land.
The ferry took us about 40 minutes to get from the dock to the island, Inis-Mor. The island is about 9 miles long by 2 miles wide, so it was quite convenient to rent a bike for €10 for the day. It was interesting having to get used to riding on the left hand side of the road, instead of on the right, as I would do in the US. A group of five of us set off on a road that would take us to the northern part of the island. Thankfully the weather cooperated and we had only slightly overcast skies, and no rain! So, it was a nearly perfect day to be out riding in the countryside occasionally stopping to snap photos. We rode from Kilronan, were the ferry docked, north along the east shore of the island to Kilmurvy, which is a small village near to Dún Aonghasa, which is prehistoric Celtic stone fort situated at the top of a cliff and which was constructed in c.2000 BC. The views from the fort were amazing, you could look out and see a large portion of the island, the fort is also at the top of a slope that ends at the cliff so, as I was walking up the slope towards the fort, I could easily imagine in my mind why this spot was chosen for the fort, since the defenders would be able to see any attackers coming from a long way off, providing them with plenty of time to ready their defenses, as well as to provide them with early warning of any such attack.
Along the way to and from Dún Aonghasa, we rode past a seal colony, the views were excellent, but unfortunately there were no seals there at the time for us to take photos of.(Maybe next time.)
The Aran Islands are world famous for their sweaters, that are made there. After the ride when we arrived back in Kilronan, while I was waiting for the ferry to go back to the mainland, I went into the Aran Sweater Market and Museum, and although I did not get a sweater, I did get an authentic tweed wool cap. The ferry ride back to the mainland, and the following bus ride back to Galway, were uneventful.
The next day, Sunday the 9th. The notable event was that Galway was playing Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Gaelic Hurling Major Final. A large group of us went to one of the local pubs to watch the game. This was apparently the first time in 24 years that Galway had reached the Final for Gaelic Hurling, so it was a major event for the town. In the sport the players need to get a baseball sized ball either in the goal for 3 points or thru the goal posts above the goal for 1 point. They use a kind of bat in order to hit the ball into the goals. It is a really awesome sport to watch. The game ended in a tie Galway 2-13( for a total of 19 points) to Kilkenny 0-19 (for a total of 19 points). However unlike in most American sports where if there is a tie the game goes into overtime, instead the tie caused there to be a replay. So, on September 30, both teams will meet to play the entire match over from the beginning.
Some photos from the trip to Inis-Mor.
Well until next time, Slán agat.