2021.09.24 Update

The best long week!

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job exploring Belfast and Northern Ireland in my time here, but my exploration of Ireland has been lacking significantly. Luckily, my mom and my aunt made the overseas voyage last week which gave me the perfect excuse to see as much of it as I could in a short stretch. It also gave me an excuse to finally get behind the wheel of a car on the other side of the road!

I rented a car in Belfast and drove down to Dublin airport to pick them up, and after a brief breakfast in Dublin we headed west to Galway where we stayed for two nights. We made the mandatory day-trip from Galway down to the Cliffs of Moher where we endured the windiest day I have ever seen. Not only were the normal gusts up to 70mph, but there were certain areas of the cliffs that caused wind tunnels that became so windy most people could not walk through it! Some people literally had to turn around because they physically could not pass. It was probably the most tourist-filled spot we went to, but I was glad we did it.

After Galway, we drove north on the Wild Atlantic Way, through the incredibly remote region of Connemara and up County Mayo to the Downpatrick Head, which is pictured as the header of this post. I loved that it was way off the beaten path – it felt like we had the place to ourselves. It’s free to see and is completely untouched and undisturbed; a fittingly raw spectacle in an area of the world that is known for its mythical-looking environment. A great way to refresh the mind before getting back to my studies

The next day, we hiked a big portion of the Sliabh Liag (Slieve League), Ireland highest sea cliffs (almost 3x the height of the Cliffs of Moher). I can’t believe how massive the walls are – it is essentially a mountain pushed right up against the ocean, and the only reason it sees less tourism than the Cliffs of Moher must be due to the difficulty getting there.

We finished our Tour de Eire with a drive along the north coast and a stop at the Giant’s Causeway before returning to Belfast for a few days before they went home. I was glad to show them around the city I know best, but even happier to see family that I hadn’t seen since last summer. In just over two months I will be on my way back to the USA. I have enjoyed my time here, but I am starting to itch for a familiar culture, dryer, warmer weather, and seeing family on a regular basis.

By Philip Johnston | Ulster University