Since I came back from Canada in September, I’ve been entirely in Ireland and England. it’s the longest stretch of mostly speaking English I’ve had in 5 years, so it’s time to get back to some Latin sunshine and in a few short hours I’ll be on my way to Brazil!!!
But I can honestly say that the last few months have been genuinely fun. When back in Ireland I decided to use the time, after years in other countries, to finally get to know my own country. Until then I basically just knew my Dublin, my own town; foreigners I met in travels who spent a week in Ireland would know it better than I did. So I decided to take an entire month to travel around the entire West of Ireland. I started in Co. Sligo and a week with my little sister at her university in Sligo town; all of this time I was mostly working too. All I needed was to plug myself into the net and I was translating away. After time with my little sis, I spent another week with my big sis! She lives not too far away, in the same county. It was a great opportunity to finally spend time with my nephew Eamon.
With the house empty all day long, I could continue working. At this stage I had earned enough for the month to actually set myself as unavailable and enjoy a real holiday for the rest of my travels.
So next I was to go to the Northwest up in Glencolmkille Co. Donegal for a weekend course in Irish; the rest of my trip was concentrated on going to regions where Irish was spoken so I could practise it. But just before this I decided to check out Halloween in Cork, Ireland’s second city and now in the very south of the country. Unfortunately the best costume I could come up with was Ken, and Barbie ended up ditching me! I always expected other cities in Ireland to just be smaller versions of Dublin, and I don’t even like Dublin that much. But I found Cork to be hugely different with its own personality and much more European with its tiny side-streets and outside cafés.
Onward to County Kerry and the westernmost point in Europe; I started in Dingle, a supposedly Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) town, but found it so overrun by tourists that I went to the end of the road, stuck out my thumb and hitchhiked until I got to Ballyferriter; and really heard some Gaeilge. Next, I bussed up to Galway city and was hugely impressed. I stayed a week and soaked in the University atmosphere, the city nightlife and getting to know some locals as well. As far as cities go, it’s not terribly huge, but I found it to be very Irish while maintaining a modern feel.
I took day drips out to villages in Connemara, and saw the language more alive than ever. I had lunch with a friend of my mum and the whole family only talk “as Gaeilge” together. The countryside is outstanding. If I were to ever settle back in Ireland, this region would be the one I’d choose. There is still a lot to discover in Ireland, but I feel like I’ve gotten a good start. I even got to bring out my language interest in travels and get exposed to a lot of Irish, and see it alive, well and growing.
Here are a few photos of that trip.