I’m back in Baltimore after what felt like an eternity. It’s funny how traveling feels so slow and so fast at the same time. I took some time off to explore Ireland, a trip that I’ve been planning for a bit now.
My family roots are in Ireland and my ancestors came to America from Ireland’s West Coast about a hundred or so years ago. We originate from County Mayo, a historically poor town made up of sheep farms. My family has tried to make this trip together for a number of years, but something would always come up. The last attempt in 2009 ended with my Pop (grandfather) getting really sick right before and not being able to make it. Same thing with my uncle. He was supposed to come on this trip with us this year and lost his battle with cancer this past Spring. I know they both would have loved this trip. It reminds me of the plot line of the Pixar movie, “Up”, if you’ve ever seen it.
So, twelve of us, embarked overseas to explore where we came from. It was like herding kittens for the most part, keeping twelve people together on the same schedule in a foreign city while driving on the *wrong* side of the road, but it ended up pretty alright. Fighting was kept to a minimum and I survived twelve days in close proximity with my mother so I’ll say it was a success. We all got tattoos too, even my mom who swore she’d “never ever ever get one because it’s not her thing.”
If you know me you know that I like my alone time, I hate waiting on others, and I don’t like to be tethered to an itinerary. I went off exploring on my own a good amount. I even got to stop over in London for a few hours to see my sassy Baltimore babe Linsey and her husband Adrian.
We stayed in Galway, which is located on the western coast of Ireland. It’s a very old city. I also explored Lucan, Dublin, Cohn, and some little town in-between the coasts that I forget the name of. I do remember that it was home to the oldest pub in Ireland, a pub that dates back to 900…A.D.
Ireland is a tiny country with big places. The Cliffs of Moher and the island of Inis Oírr stole my heart. There’s something about sitting in a setting that is SO OLD. Apparently in the fourteenth century, there was a woman who married eight men and one by one trained her horses to throw them off of the cliffs whenever they would piss her off. Our tour guide told us that but maybe he was making it up. I like to think it was a true story.
The cliffs have a 700ft drop and a bunch of people die every year because they either aren’t paying attention or, well, yeah that’s about it. There is a safety fence but you can easily jump it which almost everyone does. I’m afraid of heights but I figured sitting on the edge was an experience I should allow myself.
The tiny island of Inis Oírr was my favorite spot. The water was the clearest I’ve ever seen and dolphins would come into the harbor. It’s medieval and has been there for quite some time. I found a shipwreck dating back to the 1940’s. It cost too much money to remove or really do anything with, so the locals just left it where it died. I climbed inside and the steel had petrified itself for sitting for so long, so it was pretty sturdy. There were barnacles and flowers growing inside from nature reclaiming the spot.
The beach was white sand and the water was turquoise. Apparently the amazing weather we had that day is a rarity that I’m thankful for. It wasn’t as cold as I expected it to be either. Getting here from Galway was a bit of a hike. It’s about a three hour car ride to Doolin, a thirty minute ferry ride and a two mile hike to the shipwreck if you walk from the ferry docking point. A little dog accompanied me on my walk there.
I walked on foot to the shipwreck and flagged down a man with a horse and carriage to take me back the other way. He told me that many people leave the island after high school but return when they’re older. He was pretty young still but had spent years in NZ and AUS. I got to meet his wife and baby too. He told me that there was no midwife or hospital on the island. They have a clinic with a doctor and a nurse but when a birth happens the woman must be helicoptered to Galway. Many choose to go to the hospital a week before their expected delivery date. He told me his wife gave birth twenty minutes after the helicopter touched down!
I shared the ride with a few people who happened to be from Tennessee. They wanted me in their family photo so now I’m sitting on a mantle somewhere immortalized in a portrait in Memphis. I really don’t think I could have asked for a weirder day.
Most of these photos were taken with my iPhone 7+ because of the accessibility and ease of use. I also brought a long my Canon 5D Mark iii with a 35mm f/1.4 lens and my Fuji XT2 but I found that I was tired of lugging around heavy gear and I didn’t really want to spend my time looking through a viewfinder or LCD. I wanted to decompress and just chill out without feeling an obligation to shoot. I took photos on my own time or whenever I felt the urge to document something. My camera was an accessory to my experiences, not *the* experience which is a new thing for me.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I had a lot of people messaging me asking what I was doing in Ireland so hopefully this answers some questions. I plan on going back at some point, maybe over the summertime. Have you been to Ireland? If so what are your favorite parts?
*I also got to wander around London for a few hours with Linsay and Adrian who showed me all around! Linsey is from Baltimore too but she moved to the UK after we graduated college / journalism school three years ago. Check out my day there in the photos below!