By Laurel Anderson
We started our tour on Friday morning at Ballintubber Abby, which is only about a half an hour from Louisburgh. This church was built in 1216 by the King of Connaught. What amazes me about this piece of history is that mass has kept going on for 800 years- even during the Penal Times when Ireland was not allowed to practice Catholicism. Our tour guide explained that they had an escape door for the priest in case British soldiers would invade. This abbey is also the starting place for the twenty-two mile pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, which many complete throughout the year.
Next we went on to the village of Cong. This quaint little place, similar to Louisburgh, was the filming place of the John Wayne film “The Quiet Man”. I took advantage of the sun and got some great snapshots of the water, trees, and the abbey. This town is also the home of Ashford Castle. Unfortunately, the castle was under construction so I was not able to get a close up look. It was still a brilliant site to see. I love how much history has been preserved here in Ireland!
After a few more stops, we reached our destination of Galway. My first site from my bus window as I woke up from my nap was a McDonald’s. I knew this was going to be a good weekend :) Galway is about the population size of St. Cloud, and is located about an hour south of Louisburgh. It sits right on the coast of the Atlantic, and is part of the County Galway. The first thing that us girls did when we arrived was a shopping trip downtown-some retail therapy was definitely needed :) Shop Street was exactly how I imagined a European city to be like. Cobblestone streets, cute boutiques and gift shops, cafes, and of course there was no shortage of Irish pubs!
The highlight of my trip was the Cliffs of Moher. Located about a half an hour from Galway, this experience tops every sight I have ever seen in my life. I was amazed at how gigantic they were, and mind blown that mother nature could create such a spectacle. The climb was not difficult because stairs had been built to the lookout at the top. At the top looking down at the 700 feet between me and the ocean, all I could think about was the gorgeous views of the Arrin Islands and the sparkling sea green water below. I am so very excited to return to this place when my family comes in a few weeks. I was surprised to see a memorial for those who had lost their lives on the cliffs. Overall, this was an experience that I would recommend for anybody traveling to Ireland. At the end of the day after I had posted a few Facebook pictures, my friend Tommy, who is studying abroad in London right now texted me and said that he was also at the cliffs on Saturday! What are the odds? Honestly, I was so mesmerized by the view that I ignored all human existence for most of it. This weekend was the perfect getaway!
So many wonderful adventures this weekend. An unforgettable experience!