On Monday, we had the entire day to ourselves to explore Galway. This was definitely a much-needed day all around and everyone took the opportunity to sleep in before heading out to eat and shop. My friends and I headed to this adorable café, which is probably some of the best food I’ve had on the trip. I had a cranberry scone and coconut chocolate coffee before walking around the city. We were all supposed to head to the Galway Sea Festival, so my friends and I tried to find it around the docks of Galway, but had no luck. We decided to turn back and meet up with the guys in our group for lunch at a famous fish and chips place called McDonagh’s. The seafood was delicious and filled us up as we once again tried to find the festival. The receptionist we had asked for help from the first times apparently gave us faulty directions and the sea festival was in fact in Salthill, not Galway. We figured it was on the water right outside of the venue that the step dancing had been at last night so decided to walk and try to find it. We walked a solid 30 minutes out to Salthill and still, there was no sign of any festival. Thoroughly confused, the guys decided to stop at the bar and my friends and I took some pictures by the water before meeting up again to go back to Galway. After we met up with the guys again at the pub, I went to ask reception what time the shops in Galway closed and she said around 5-6 pm as that day was a bank holiday and the shops were closing earlier. It was already 4 pm and everyone wanted to go shopping so we rushed out of the pub and found two cabs that took us back to Galway so we could get our shopping fix in. Later that night we ended up hearing that the festival never happened and if it had, the venue was still another 20 km away from where we had walked to so I’m glad we ended up giving up on finding the festival, as it was clearly a lost cause.
I had heard that Galway had some of the best shopping and that is no lie. I spent far too much money, but I don’t regret it at all. The Claddagh ring was first made in the town of Claddagh, which it right across the river and is visible from the outskirts of the city center. I knew I wanted a Claddagh ring so I figured there was no better place to buy it than the store that is the original makers. Since they were the first people to start manufacturing the Claddagh ring, they are able to put certain details into the rings that other sellers are not allowed to. They have been making the rings since 1750, and with my ring came a little pamphlet explain its origins and meanings. The explanation reads, “the hands are for friendship, the heart is for love, and loyalty is shown with a crown up above.” I love the meaning and I think it makes it even more special that’s it’s from the original makers. Next, I stopped at a sweater shop and picked myself up an authentic wool sweater made from the wool of sheep that live on the Aran Islands, which are just off the coast of Galway. I picked up some other gifts for friends and family along the way and headed back to the B&B pleased with my days purchases. I hung out at the B&B and just packed up my bags to prepare to leave for Killarney the next afternoon, and begrudgingly checked my bank account before heading out to dinner with my friends Lindsey, Sarah and Allie. We ate at this packed restaurant and ended up creating a makeshift table to fit the four of us so we didn’t have to endure the 45-minute wait. I ordered a Caesar salad and devoured it as I have missed my veggies and it seems that despite being know from their lush greens fields, the Irish aren’t fond of their green foods. We ended up staying out at dinner for two hours before heading back to the B&B to get ready to go back to Skeff’s again with the group. We all got drinks before heading to a club that was attached to the bar. Overall it was a great night and it is always a blast when everyone is able to get together and go out as a big American group. The days can become so hectic especially when everyone has their own ideas of what they want to do when we have free time, so when the end of the day rolls around it is always nice to combine our culture with this country’s culture in the most Irish way possible, cheers.
All photography by Emily Houston