torrie's travels


Galway! July 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 10:29 pm

One of the places I am most anticipating is Galway.  County Galway is where we’ve traced some of our ancestors to, so I am excited to see and experience the city.  As the song goes, I am a Galway girl (dark hair and blue eyes!).  That has been one of my favorite songs as I have been planning and preparing for my trip.  So I am excited to see the Salthill Prom!

The Salthill Promenade.

I am also looking forward to getting a Claddagh ring from Claddagh.  I used to have one, but I don’t know what happened to it.  I have considered buying a new one, but wanted to wait until I get to Ireland and get an authentic one!  For those of you unfamiliar with Claddagh rings, they are traditional Celtic rings given, according to Wikipedia, out of friendship, love, or marriage.  I think they were originally Celtic engagement/wedding rings.  The crown represents loyalty, the arms friendship, and the heart love.  I used to think that the only “rules” to wearing them is that you wear it with the heart pointing out of you are single (representing that your heart is open) and pointing in if you are taken.  But that isn’t the whole story.  Here’s the proper protocol: on the right hand with the heart pointing out, it means that you are single and looking for love; on the right hand with the heart pointing in, it means that you are in a relationship and that your heart has been captured; on the left hand with the heart pointing out, it means that you are engaged; and on the left hand with the heart pointing in, it means you are married.  Claddagh is situated across the Corrib River near Galway Bay.  It is essentially in Galway.

This is the ring I like.  Silver, not gold.  Never gold.  You can also get them with jewels, differing widths, etc.  This is the classic and will probably be the one I will get.  Who knows!

I mentioned above the concept of a Galway girl.  The people of this region get their dark coloring because this was where the Spanish armada landed in western Ireland.  A remnant of that time is the Spanish Arch, which was built in 1584.  It was a passageway that allowed ships to enter in order to unload goods.

Galway is also home to Eyre Square, which is Galway’s central public square.  It is apparently formerly named Kennedy Park after JFK, but everyone refers to it as Eyre Square.  I think I will, too!

Finally, you can’t talk about Galway without talking about its hookers.  No, not THOSE hookers.  Get your mind out of the gutter!!  A hooker is type of sailboat that is well-known in Galway.  They are wooden and the hull is black and the masts are rust-colored.

I cannot wait!!  Just over one month!!


Western Ireland July 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 10:28 pm

So it’s time to look forward to our adventures in Western Ireland.  This is the stuff of postcards.  It may be what I am most looking forward to…though it’s probably too difficult to say.  I will have to wait until I’m there to decide what was my favorite.  Probably all of it and Loren will have to bring me kicking and screaming to the airport!

Co. Clare is the home of the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and off the coast, the Aran Islands.  First, the Cliffs of Moher.  These are probably the most well-known part of Ireland.  The most-photographed, included in movies, etc.  Our friends Scott and Melanie, who studied there in college, said that an Ireland boy band was filming a music video there during one of their visits.  One of my travel books cautioned about strong winds and not doing any involuntary cliff-diving while there.  But if possible, I will inch my way to the edge!  Safely, of course.

The tower you see there is the O’Brien Tower.  It was built in the 1800’s for tourist viewing and was closed for renovations, but is open again!  I hope we are able to experience it!  On most days, it’s said you can see all the way out to our next stop…

The Aran Islands!  The Aran Islands are one of the few remaining Gaeltachts in Ireland.  A Gaeltacht is a rural area of Ireland that still predominately (or in some cases, exclusively) speaks Irish.  There are three islands that comprise the Aran Islands…Inishmor, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.  Inishmor is the largest and most-visited.  On Inishmor stands Dun Aengus, three forts that are believed to be approximately 2000 years old.  This area is also at the edge of a serious cliff, which I can’t wait to hang over.  Scott and Melanie said you had to belly crawl out to the edge in order to not get blown over!  You can reach the Aran Islands by ferry from either Doolin (in Co. Clare) or Galway.  It’s closer from Doolin, but I’ve read that the ferries are not as reliable.

Can’t wait to do that!!

Dun Aengus…the three non-concentric walls.

A random cottage on Inishmor.  The Aran Islands are also home to the famous Aran sweaters.  I had heard all about these sweaters, but did not know what to expect of them.  Scott and Melanie showed us theirs.  I can’t wait to get one.  They were great sweaters and supposedly very warm!

Another ruin on Inishmor.

Finally, on our way to/from Galway (depending on which way we decide to go) we will travel through the Burren.  If you ask Melanie, she will repeatedly utter, “the Burren means rocky place.”  Apparently one of her tour guides couldn’t stop saying that.  But it’s true!  The Burren is a limestone outcropping that looks absolutely beautiful.  In between swaths of limestone, out pop colorful wild flowers.

A not-to-miss sight is Poulnabrone Dolmen, which is a mini-stonehenge, for lack of a better term!  It is also known as the Portal Tomb and is one of Ireland’s most-photographed ancient monuments.  It was supposedly built more than 5000 years ago.  In an excavation in 1986, the remains of 16 people, pottery, and jewelry were found there.  I can’t wait to see it!

That’s the Poulnabrone Dolmen.  The capstone weighs 5000 kgs!

Last, but CERTAINLY, not least…is the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival!!  I was astounded when I learned that this would be occurring during our visit, considering I want to find me a husband!  Ha!  Lisdoonvarna is a town in the Burren and Loren and I will definitely be checking it out!  But I kind of hope Sinead doesn’t show up this year…we don’t need that kind of crazy!