Ireland | Part 1

A few weeks ago, my family and I returned from a week in Ireland and we had an amazing time!  I quickly grew to love the country so much more than I ever could have imagined.  From the beautiful countrysides to the extremely nice residents, it was a magical week.  I can't wait to go day!

We arrived in Ireland at the Shannon Airport, on the western side of the country.  Over the course of the week, we rode across the country and ended up in Dublin, which was where our week ended.  Our first major stop for this trip was the quaint town of Galway.

Our hotel in Galway was the Harbour Hotel.  It, like all three of our hotels, was very modern in the design and was a great place to stay!

These flowers were outside of our hotel.  Everywhere we went in Ireland, there were beautiful flowers.  I guess all of their rain helps!  It rained at least once a day.  It was never a heavy rain, but at most was a heavy drizzle.  Luckily, we were on the bus some of the days when it rained, so we didn't always get wet!

See that wall across the street from the hotel?  That is a remnant from the medieval city wall, built around the year 1232, that used to surround Galway.

Found this beauty outside of our hotel...and I just loved it!

It was fun to see the signs with Gaelic on them.  While everyone pretty much speaks English throughout the country, many people in the small towns and villages do still speak Gaelic as well.

This is the Spanish Arch, which was once an extension of the medieval city wall that I mentioned earlier.  This arch was built in 1584 and sits along the River Corrib.

Every good city has a Latin Quarter, right?!  This is definitely where all of the happenings are in Galway!  Packed with restaurants, shops, and street entertainment, this was such a lively atmosphere.  In fact, we were in town at the start of the Galway Races, so there was a lot more action than is typically found there.

A quick look down the Latin Quarter.

This building has been painted to represent Galway 2020.  One city in Europe each year is named the European Capital of Culture.  Those cities are asked to present cultural programs that highlight cultural diversities in Europe.  Galway has been chosen as the Capital of Culture for the year 2020 and it had just been voted on when we visited.  Everyone in town seemed very excited for that to be happening.  You can read more about the Capital of Culture here.

More of the gorgeous flowers that were seen all over Ireland.

Behind these buildings, you can see the clock tower for the St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, which was our next stop.

We visited a number of churches and cathedrals on this trip, and they were all stunning in their own way!

The King's Head - a fun pub that we enjoyed lunch at one day.  This has a very interesting background and history, which you can read about here.

Before 1916, Dublin had it's own time zone, which was abandoned.  They lost their time zone, and went to the same time zone as the rest of Ireland.  And in the process, they lost 25 minutes.  This clock was in the square in Galway, and showed Dublin Time.

This remnant of the medieval city wall is now located inside of a shopping mall.  It's kind of cool that this wall is being preserved in the least likely place you'd think to find it!

This Galway Cathedral was located just outside of town limits.  It definitely didn't disappoint in it's beauty either.  Opened in 1965, it's one of the newest cathedrals in Europe.

This marble is called Connemara marble, and we later would visit the factory where the marble was made.

Next up, we visited Connemara, a district on the west coast of Ireland.  This is where the marble was made for the Galway Cathedral that I mentioned earlier.  After we took the tour, the guy at the factory was even telling us about the different places that Connemara marble is used, including a few buildings in Pennsylvania.

Following our stop at Connemara marble, we rode through the countryside, along the coast, and back to Galway to finish up our excursion for that day.

It was pretty neat to see the Atlantic Ocean from the other side.  That doesn't happen often!

Back in Galway, this is the River Corrib which separates Galway from the neighboring town and flows into Galway Bay.

And that neighboring town is Claddagh, home of the ever famous Claddagh rings.

A view of Galway from across the river.

And that finishes up your tour of Galway!  Stay tuned for Part 2, and maybe Part 3.  I'm not yet sure just how many 'parts' this blog series will have.  Next up...the Cliffs of Moher, one of my favorite spots in Ireland!  Have you ever been to Ireland?  Is it on your dream list?  I'd love to hear in the comments below!

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