Sundown to Sundown in Galway City

Jacob Muller
July 1, 2019

Saturday evening after Dublin’s Pride Parade a group of my floormates and I took a train over the hills, farms, and rivers of Ireland straight to Galway to find the best sightseeing destinations and food spots we could pack into 24 hours. It was a two-hour ride at top speed across the intimate and scenic countryside through multiple towns and counties. I focused mostly on my book but looked out every so often to see a passing herd of sheep or the ruins of some ancient stone watchtower or a river jam-packed with locals and their boats trying desperately to enjoy the Saturday evening. It was raining as we slowed into Galway, and when we stepped out the sun shone above the ocean. Over the busy city appeared a rainbow.

We quickly checked into our hotel which was about a mile outside the city center and made a twenty-minute walk towards a recommended restaurant for a late dinner. The place was dark, the people were laughing, and the music was popular. They apparently served the best Mac N Cheese in all of Ireland, and judging from their website, it was a cheap eat. The place was called “Bite Club.” We didn’t listen to our waiter when he told us the serving size was more than enough and we doubled down with side orders of fries. We went to bed shortly afterwards with full stomachs.

The next morning, we hit a local coffee shop for a late breakfast and discussed our plans for the day. We decided on Menlo Castle, an ancient establishment just a few miles north of Galway City. We hailed a cab, and it dropped us between a gated pathway and an overgrown trail heading the complete opposite direction. After careful deliberation and a few Google searches we determined to jump the gatewhich for the record, was not trespassingand hit the path.

Menlo Castle is a towering stone establishment that sits on a small plod of land between a private farm full of mooing cows and the fast-flowing River Corrib. It has been mostly reduced to a skeleton and rubble over the centuries, and both the interior and exterior are covered in thick vines. We explored the inside and out, making sure to find every room and examine as much as possible. We even managed to climb onto the second story and peer out a small stone window towards the river where rowing clubs practiced in the frigid afternoon breeze. It was great fun imagining its original layout and purpose, and we wondered if it might one day be restored. Once we were satisfied, we headed back into Galway City to walk the river towards the Galway Cathedral.

Our walk beside the river took us past quaint cafés and interesting backyards where the residents seemed all-but-not-too concerned about putting up a fence between their property and the rapids below. Along the steep walls we passed several fishermen who were trying their luck for the day’s catch of Salmon. We witnessed one man in full green raingear reel in a sizeable Salmon and he then let my floor-mate Sarah take a picture with it. The fisherman pointed us down the river towards a bridge for if we wanted to see “the flying ones.” We didn’t see them, but we crossed the bridge and headed towards the massive and elegant Galway Cathedral.

Outside the Cathedral is a bustling intersection with horns and clicking stoplights and people screaming across the road at each other; but inside the people moved in silence and you could hear a pew croak from across the Cathedral. About the place were scattered tourists, worshippers, nuns, priests, and gift shop employees, all moving quietly and respectfully, only making noise when necessary. The walls scaled up to what felt like thousands of feet and domed at the top with brilliant stained-glass windows running alongside the pews. Columns, as tall as the ceiling and several feet wide encased the pews as well, creating a focal point for the worshipping crowd. We spent about half an hour simply staring up and around and, if nothing else, I left with a sense of strong admiration for the art and architecture.

After the Galway Cathedral we found our way back to the train station we had stepped off the night before and waited for our ride back to Dublin. Galway was a mystical and engaging city full of wonders that, had we more time, would’ve been worth exploring. I’m grateful for the experience and most importantly for the friends that made the excursion worthwhile.

Jacob Muller

<p>I'm a Senior studying English at IUB and will graduate in the Fall. A few things about me: I've played and studied music all my life, I enjoy the company of close friends, and I love being outdoors in the summer. Looking past graduation, I'm planning for a journalism career so this opportunity is great for me.</p>

2019 Summer 1, 2019 Summer 2
Home University:
Indiana University
Evansville, IN
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