To take a break from the hustle and bustle of London, this weekend I took a trip to Ireland to see the countryside and experience Ireland in the truest sense. Now, this is easier said than done, seeing as Ireland is mostly rural or agricultural areas. A number of friends in the CAPA program have visited Dublin, which they agreed is quite a bit like London: multicultural, outgoing, and unique in its own right. However, I was fortunate enough to have a friend in Ireland by the name of Sean.
Now Fr. Sean Neylon is a priest. I've known him since I was a kid--once every year, he comes to Ashland, my hometown, for a month. He has always been a bit of a role model when it comes to spiritual matters, and I was excited that he would be willing to host me for a weekend.
So I booked my ticket into Shannon Airport, which is on the west coast of Ireland, just south of Galway.
The moment I arrived in Ireland, I was amazed. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Ireland is known for its rich countrysides and verdant fields, and even flying over, you could see the beauty in the hills. As Fr. Sean picked me up at the airport, he already had a plan of what we would take in while I was there. The first evening consisted of visiting a local Castle called Dromoland Castle, which held historic and cultural significance to the nation.
We then proceeded to Galway, which absolutely blew my mind. Galway is a city by an extremely large bay. As we pulled into Galway, we went to see a pretty large and impressive boat called the Green Dragon. Unbeknownst to me, the Green Dragon was a boat that won one of the biggest boating events in history, and is parked outside Galway Bay. Once we took that sight in, we rolled along the Irish coastline. The bay, full of beautiful blue water and families swimming, came in quite a bit to form more or less a peninsula of water. Looking over the water, you could see the rolling hills behind the calm and tranquil sea. In storms, apparently the tide can rise to splash up against the road and thrill the locals and foreigners alike. Luckily enough, it was a calm and peaceful day, which provided one of the most scenic vistas I've come across in my time across the pond.
After Galway, we headed about halfway between there and Dublin to a town called Taughmaconnell in the county Roscommon, where I spent the weekend talking about religion and the changes Ireland has seen in the mere 25 to 40 years.
After some great conversation, Mass, and a Galway hurling match (I'm officially a huge Galway hurling fan now), the weekend ended with a trip back to Shannon Airport with some of the locals from Fr. Sean's parish. Needless to say, the hospitality was second-to-none, even with the local Irish folk, the tranquility was a great break from the hustle and bustle of London, and it was most definitely a weekend well-spent. A place I would recommend visiting if you're ever in the area, and a place I plan to go visit again someday.
Here's a picture of Galway, overlooking the bay toward the city.