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VISITING A FAMILY HOME My Trip to Ireland
In October, I traveled to Ireland with my wife for a little over a week, and it was such an incredible trip. Our first stop was Dublin, then we went to Cork, and last, the Aran Islands and Galway. We stayed in Dublin for three days, where we caught up with a friend of my wife’s who showed us around the city and where the locals like to hang out. My wife and I saw all the touristy attractions in Dublin, including St. Stephen’s Green, the Trinity College, and the Book of Kells. We also experienced the infamous pub culture. The Book of Kells is a famous book of Gospels that was produced by Celtic monks, and it was fascinating to see because of how colorful the illustrations were, despite being written around the time of 800 A.D. Visiting the pubs around Dublin was a great experience too. To the locals, going to the pub is almost considered a rite of passage and is truly a part of their daily lives. After work, many head to the pubs to socialize and celebrate their culture. We went to a pretty touristy pub called Temple Bar, which was close to where we were staying. The pub was filled with mainly tourists, but my wife’s friend took us to the pubs around Dublin where all the locals go. They were far more interesting than sitting in a pub with other tourists. While we were in Ireland, we made sure to rent a car so we could drive around and visit other cities. We ended up driving to Cork, in southern Ireland, where I had the best seafood in my entire life. Cork was also the place I was most eager to visit, because my family is originally from the area. We went a little way outside of Cork and saw the Sullivan name on many signs and business. It was really exciting to see. We’d go to a pub and start talking with the locals, and they’d ask me for my name, and several times they had the Sullivan name as well. We’d spend a good time trying to see if there were any connections between us. It was interesting making that connection with my family’s history. My great grandfather came to the states from Ireland years ago, and seeing where my family originated meant a lot to me. When we were talking with the natives, my last name always sparked conversation, and they were excited to hear about what things were like along the East Coast of America
They were proud of how the Irish influenced the cities here. It was truly unique seeing that connection between our two countries.
Driving to Cork was an experience in itself. You’d be driving along and suddenly see medieval castles, ruins, farming, sheep, cows, a horse and buggy, and the most beautiful shade of green grass you can imagine. The streets that we drove along were tight, twisty, narrow roads, and we had to drive on the left side instead of the right. It took about a day to get used to driving on what looked like the passenger side of our rented car and on the other side of the road. From Cork, we drove to the west coast of southern Ireland to visit the Aran Islands. We took an hour boat ride to the largest island, called Inis Mor, and spent a day touring the 12-mile island. Our tour guide told us that the island is essentially limestone rock, and the first settlers had to make it livable, so they created their own ecosystem. They took sand and seaweed and piled it up on the rock to make grass so they could farm and feed their livestock. It was like going back in time — there are still about 1,000 people living there, but they have thatch houses, and it’s a Gaelic speaking region, meaning that most of the population speak Irish. From Inis Mor, we visited the Cliffs of Moher and then spent two days in the city of Galway. Galway was our favorite city we visited. It was clean, much less busy, had a bohemian feel and look, and had beautiful historic streets and shops. The food was amazing and the culture and pub life was authentic and so much fun. On our first day, we did a walking food tour with six other tourists. The guide took us to local restaurants, bakeries, and pubs that we probably would have missed otherwise. Each place came with a story and history that was as interesting as the food itself. We tasted three different types of pastries, mussels, salmon, sushi, chocolate, cheese, salami, and seafood chowder. The food was also paired with local whiskey and beer. To top
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