In the May 28th issue, you were able to read about the first week of my adventures in Ireland, until Saturday. This is how my holidays went
The next day was Sunday and I had made an appointment with another German girl. We wanted to take a day trip to Inis Mr, which is the biggest of the three Aran Islands near the Irish West Coast. However, when I woke up in the morning and peered out of the window, my hopes of actually going on that trip almost faded away. It was raining heavily, and due to the less than excellent Sunday bus services, there was no bus going to Galway City in time to reach the other bus which was supposed to bring us to the West Coast. I had intended to walk down to the city, but I didnt really feel like getting soaked!
Undecided, I had a shower, got dressed and went downstairs to have breakfast. To my surprise, my host mother was also up already, although it was only half past seven. I told her about my problem, and immediately she offered to give me a lift to the city in her car. I was delighted and accepted immediately because I really wanted to go to Inis Mr. I had been there in 1997, and ever since I had longed to see it again.
So off we drove in my host mums little Ford Ka. I managed to be at the bus stop in good time. The only trouble now was that my friend was nowhere in sight. The weather had not improved, and I did feel a bit strange standing there alone, but this feeling did not last long. I got on the bus by myself and didnt regret it.
Cliffs of Inis Mor
The bus took me to Rossaveal, where the harbour was. Soon we entered Connemara, a pretty, stoney, but very scenic area in the west of Ireland. This part of the country is one of the few "Gaeltachtai" areas where people still speak Irelands old language, Gaelic. Most street signs in the whole Republic of Ireland are written both in English and in Gaelic, but in a "Gaeltacht" most signs are only in Gaelic, which can be more than a little bit confusing. Fortunately, I was on the bus and the driver knew where to go. We reached Rossaveal in around an hour. There, I got on a ferry and I was to enjoy that ride tremendously. The Atlantic Ocean was rough and our little ferry bounced up and down on the waves. It was like dancing. Other passengers left the part of the ship where I was sitting and went to a "calmer" place, but I could have ridden on like that for hours. However, the crossing did not take very long, just barely half an hour and there I was again, Inis Mr. I was amazed that everything still looked exactly as it had in 1997, almost 6 years ago. The harbour, the youth hostel right next to it, the place where you could rent bikes it seemed like I had never left.
It was still drizzling slightly, so I decided to head for the Spar supermarket I still remembered from my last stay the only supermarket on the whole island. Even this supermarket was still the same as it had been the last time. I even bought the same lunch I had always eaten on my one week stay in 1997: a French baguette and cheese singles, plus a few cooking apples which up till today I have only found on this island. I found them delicious, even though (or maybe because) they did not look as flawless as apples in supermarkets normally do. I paid, went out, and was bid goodbye in Gaelic Sln Leath by the same sign that had been there in 1997
I had my lunch outside and after that the most amazing thing happened the rain stopped! Somehow I had known this would happen, and I set out for my walk around the island. I knew that I did not have much time, only a few hours, and I wanted to enjoy those to the fullest.
The landscape of Inis Mr is dominated by stone walls; they are everywhere. So many stones on this little island. Even beside the stone walls there were many loose stones, and there were places where the whole ground was like a rock, but with gaps in between where grass and flowers grew. The Aran Islands were only connected to electricity around the 1960s, and there are still some problems with the water supply. I had had some rather serious problems with having a shower every morning when I stayed on an island for a week. But in such a charming place, such things soon cease to be as important as they would have been back home.
People on this island all speak Gaelic as their first language. They have an excellent command of English too, though. (Even though, I must confess that I struggled a lot trying to understand their accent.) During my weeks stay, I had observed that islanders were very friendly towards visitors.
Now on this day, I walked along the islands paths, along the coast, and loved it all. An old man and a younger woman chased some sheep toward a field surrounded by stone walls, shouting at the animals in Gaelic. Friendly faces when there were people around, and also long patches of landscape without any house in sight. Beaches with only stones I tried to walk along one, but turned back after a while because I found it too tedious to pick my way among the stones. The waves crashed along the shore. Inis Mr had a unique atmosphere that I had never encountered anywhere else I have been in my life time seemed to stand still there, and my thoughts seemed to run freely. Everything was completely peaceful. There was no pressure, no distraction, and I did not miss other people at all because it seemed like the island itself was giving me company.
I hated going back to the ferry, but I had to. Coming back to Galway seemed very unreal. I was still caught up in the magic of the island when I had dinner with my host family. Soon after that I went to bed and tried to get ready for another week at school.
This week would be the "countdown" to Saint Patricks Day, the Irish national holiday on March 17th. But thats for next week...