People told me that I would feel at home in Ireland because everybody has red hair. Not so. I looked for days before finding someone with red hair, so the proportion of red-heads is similar to the United States. I traveled to Ireland during my winter break when I was at the University of Sheffield in England my senior year of college. I was studying a class on James Joyce, and my big writing project was on a work of literature that took place in Dublin, Ireland.
Because it was winter, it was overcast and dreary. I went to the National Library of Ireland to look up books on James Joyce. I had to show my passport to get in, and the library issued me an ID card. I spent my mornings at the library and my afternoons retracing the steps of the main character in the book I was studying.
During my last three days in Ireland, I went to Galway, Sligo, and Cork. In Galway, I walked to Yeats Tower, which looked kind of like a castle, with literary connections. I was so stupid that I forgot to check the winter hours, and it was closed. I had walked 15 miles, and my legs felt like two aching sticks. Then I did something even more stupid: I accepted a ride. It was because I was about to collapse. Thankfully the old man who gave me a ride to the bus station was nice.
The city of Sligo had Yeats connections as well, and it looked beautiful, even in the mist. I went up to a taxi driver and asked him how much he would charge me if I hired him for the day, and could he take me to anywhere interesting, especially castles, abbeys, or literary connections. The older-looking man said that he would charge me 30 pounds for the day, which was much lower than I thought. He took me all over the place, and we had a great day. The man chatted about his wife and kids, and I even sat in the front seat of the taxi.
My final destination was Blarney Castle in Cork. I loved running around the castle, getting lost in the corridors. The sun came out for an hour or two, and the surrounding countryside looked gorgeous. I kissed the Blarney stone, which is supposed to grant eloquence. That was definitely my favorite place, of all the places I visited in Ireland.
If you ever go to Ireland, do not go in the winter. It looks dreary in general, and it’s raining constantly. But the country is definitely green, and I enjoyed riding on the trains all around the country on the last three days of my ten-day excursion. It wasn’t really a vacation because I was writing a paper the entire time, including when I was on the trains.Tweet