I’m writing to ya’ll on a train bound for Amsterdam Central Station! Ash and I just left Budapest and plan to spend four days in this Netherlands city. As I try to pass time on this lengthy train ride, I started scrolling through my Instagram feed featuring forty shades of green, orange, and white partnered with a crap ton of alcohol and drunk selfies. This can only mean one thing: it’s St. Paddy’s (Not patty’s) parade day! Which reminded me: I never updated you on my trip to Galway!! Hopefully I can pack in some irish facts for you guys just in time for the season!
SO I arrived in Galway a day earlier than my classmates because my parents and Uncle Ed wanted to see the West as well. After I said my sad goodbyes, I checked out of one luxury hotel and walked thirty seconds down the road to check into another. Rough life I lead I know. The first day with my classmates was spent getting acquainted with the city and the beautiful Galway Bay. We also did a group dinner, searched for claddagh rings, and enjoyed a night out.
The next day we got to experience some on sight irish history and culture. We took a beautiful ride out to a farm where we saw a beautiful view of the country side and then we were driven by tractor-pulled trolly to an old cottage once owned by famed farmer Dan O’hara. A farmer forced by tyrannical landlords to leave his home after he refused to pay the fine for increasing the size of his windows. He and his family packed up and left for America. Unfortunately, his wife and one of his children died on the boat ride over and he was left broken hearted and poor, forced to sell matchboxes on the streets where he would sing this song:
some irish info I learned at the cottage, if you are easily bored you may want to skip ahead a bit.
The man giving the tour showed us how to pull turf. A solidy/muddy substance found in the ground. The turf is packed so tight that oxygen can’t get in and due to the lack of oxygen, perfectly preserved bodies (bog bodies) have been found four times in the irish turf. The guide cut a piece in half revealing some plants that can date back to a time when Christ was walking the earth. When the turf sits out for a few days it’s eventually dried out and used in fireplaces to produce fire: a turf fire.
The man also explained the story of wellies (rainboots) and why they call them such a strange name. (Sparked my interest as Uncle ed had just gotten me a pair and we did not understand the term at all) well General Wellington -the Irish-English general responsible for defeating Napoleon- died and as a sign of respect his boots were turned backwards in the foot holes of the saddle on his horse. This created a leather boot fashion trend, and when someone started making them out of rubber to cut costs, the name was born.
Once inside the cottage our guide pulled out some moonshine from a hiding spot in the ceiling. The irish call it: uisce beatha which literally means “water of life” and is thought to have influenced the modern irish word fuisce meaning whiskey. I’m assuming that was the drink of choice for most yesterday, so now you can say it in the irish language! (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it) After the introduction, he poured some people shots. I opted out. But I enjoyed hearing the familiar toast that he taught to the students braver than I: “Here’s to those who wish us well and those who don’t can go to hell” (familiar thanks to my abundant irish alcoholic family members.)
Then we left for Kylemore Abbey to see how the other half (the landlords) lived during those times. It was incredible. And also very nearby multiple filming locations from The Quiet Man. This was the mansion belonging to the Henry family. The owner was a landlord who had a bit more sympathy for the farmers than many others of his kind did.
The next day we left early morning for the Cliffs of Moher. I have zero words for them. It was a surreal experience. I managed to stray from the group and avoided picture taking in order to get to the best view in limited time. Once I reached my destination I stood in silence for ten minutes looking around in awe and feeling incredibly small. I wish I could find words or pictures to really do it justice, but I cannot.
After the cliffs was a lunch stop that I appreciated: the original Durty Nelly’s. Then a trip to Bunratty castle/village. The castle was really well preserved and had real artifacts from room to room. We also got the chance to walk around the little Bunratty village and pet some Irish wolfhounds, goats (the funniest animal ever), and a piggie.
Once we were done at the village, we packed on our bus and headed back home to Dublin. Finally all my essays, visitors, and trips were taken care of and I had two days to myself before packing up and leaving for my 3 countries in 12 days trip. Budapest to Amsterdam to Barcelona. I’m four days in and having the absolute time of my life. I can’t wait to write all about it.
Until then: I hope your parade day was a great Craic!
Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.
‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Some (memory based and probably only half true) St. Patrick facts:
-he first arrived in Ireland from England as a slave.
-upon escaping/being freed he returned to his home only to hear a calling from God to go back and convert the Pagan Irish to Catholics.
-it’s believed Patrick May not have been the first to introduce Catholicism as a man named Palladius was documented as a catholic missionary in Ireland a few years before Patrick’s alleged return to the country.
-he became famed years after his death due to two writers, who are believed to have been the originators of the famed snake story among other myths surrounding the saint. They did so in hopes of making the saint of their church the patron saint of Ireland.
-America has adopted the holiday and some irish say the parades in America are bigger and better than the ones throughout Ireland!!!
To live above with the Saints we love,
Ah, that is the purest glory.
To live below with the Saints we know,
Ah, that is another story!
Okay bye for real this time!