I spent my weeklong spring break in a small Irish town called Doolin located on the west coast of Ireland. I went to this small town to experience the true Irish culture and I did just that while I was there. I listened to live music every night and got to know a few of the locals. It is a week that I will not soon forget.
Doolin is a wonderful small town of 500 residents known for its Irish music, hospitality, and beautiful landscapes including the wondrous Cliffs of Moher. In this quiet seaside village, I spent my days walking into town and enjoying the beautiful scenery. A few days, however, were too windy and rainy to go outside. Windy and rainy weather is usual during this time of year, but I was lucky to have my last full day in Ireland be a beautiful, clear, sunny day. I met many wonderful people that included both locals and fellow travelers like me who were just passing through. Even though Doolin is a small town, it has made a name for itself and is frequented by visitors all year round.
Local Time: 3:30pm
Time Zone: Western European Time
Location (Latitude, Longitude): Doolin, Ireland
How far did I travel this week?
Doolin is on the west coast of Ireland. It is about 350 miles away from Oxford, England. Looking at a map, Ireland is the large island to the west of England.
How did I get around this week?
I traveled to Doolin by taking buses and a plane. I left my house in Oxford at 9:00 am and did not get to Doolin until 9:00 pm! Even though it took twelve hours to get to Doolin, it was definitely worth it.
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?
The most interesting place I visited this week was the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher meet the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. They are some of the tallest sea cliffs in Europe. At the tallest point they are about 700 feet tall. That would be 140 five-feet tall people stacked on top of each other! The cliffs are home to many different types of sea birds, including my favorite, the puffins. A million people visit the cliffs every year, because they have breathtaking views of the Aran Islands and Ireland’s beautiful coastline. The Aran Islands are located just off the coast of Doolin.
Other travel news:
I have gotten used to traveling on buses to get from place to place. When I think about buses, I think about a city with big roads and people bustling about. Well, when my friend and I got on the bus to Doolin, we were expecting the same thing. The bus was a nice large bus with compartments below to store people’s luggage. We left the airport and got on the roads. Everything seemed to be very much like England’s roads. There were roundabouts and a few lanes on either side of the road. Halfway through our journey the roads narrowed. I looked out the window and thought to myself, “I hope another car doesn’t need to get around us because there is not going to be enough room!” The next minute there was a car that squeezed its way past the bus. There could not have been more than a foot between the bus and the passing car, and the craziest part was that the car barely slowed down!
After arriving in town, our host was nice enough to drive us into town so that we could get groceries. She explained to us that most of the roads in Ireland are narrow two-lane roads, and everyone is used to driving on them. She said that it is difficult for her to explain to travelers that it takes longer to travel to places that are the same distance in their own country, because the roads in Ireland are so narrow and windy. She said that one family had decided to drive to a town that was 100 miles away. In their country it would only take about two hours, but with Ireland’s roads the trip took five hours!
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 1
What is the air temperature right now? 55° F
How was the weather this week?
The weather this week was very similar to weather in Oxford. Most of the time it was cloudy, rainy and a little cold. There was one difference, however: It was windy! One of the nights, the wind was so strong it sounded as if it wanted to blow the house down. The wind also made some scary noises in the trees that made the walk home at night a little creepy. My friend and I were lucky that the wind was not that bad the entire week we were there.
I saw seagulls, puffins, cows, ducks, chickens and a dolphin. I saw the birds when I took a boat to see the Cliffs of Moher. The puffins were so cute and smaller than I expected. They are very good swimmers. Many times when I spotted them floating on the water’s surface, they would quickly vanish beneath the water making me second guess whether or not I actually saw them.
Doolin is a small country town surrounded by large green pastures. I saw many cows when my friends and I would walk from place to place. I even saw calves that had been born not too long ago. They were very cute.
The coolest thing I saw in nature this week was the town’s pet dolphin, Dusty. Doolin has a very small pier and harbor where the boats come in to take people to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. There is a wild dolphin that has felt comfortable enough to spend much of his time in this little harbor. Dusty is so comfortable with humans that if you go to the edge of the water on the pier, he will swim right up to you! I did not get a chance to pet this beautiful dolphin, because so many boats were using the pier, but I did see Dusty swimming around in the harbor.
What languages are spoken here?
English and Gaelic are spoken in Ireland. Gaelic is the original Irish language that has been spoken for generations. Gaelic is still taught in schools, and many of the signs are printed in both English and Gaelic. In some places Gaelic is still the primary language spoken. For example, the first language of people on the Aran Islands is Gaelic. Many of their signs are only in Gaelic. I was very surprised to hear so many Irish people speaking Gaelic because I did not know it was still spoken.
What type of money is used here?
Unlike in the United Kingdom, the euro is the currency used in Ireland. There are 17 European countries that use the euro, including France, Germany, Italy and many others.
How much does a bottle of water cost?
A bottle of water costs €2.20, which is about $2.85.
What was the best meal this week?
The best meal I had in Ireland was an Irish stew. It is roasted beef marinated in brown gravy with vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli and cabbage, and it is served over mashed potatoes. It was generously seasoned with black pepper that made it spicier than I expected.
What music did I listen to this week?
I listened to wonderful music this week. Doolin is known for its authentic Irish music played live in the pubs every night. My favorite band that I heard was called Foolin’ in Doolin. There were three guys in the band; one who played the banjo, one who played the guitar and one who played the uileann pipes. Uileann pipes are like bagpipes, except the musician does not have to blow into a tube to supply the instrument with air. The musician will use a pump instead. I heard many Irish ballads sung by locals and many good Irish tunes that are strictly played with just instruments.
What activity was the most fun this week?
The most fun activity this week was listening to the music in the pubs every night. My friends and I would go to the pub around eight o’clock at night to have dinner and get a good seat and then the band would start to play around 9:00 pm. We would listen to the band play for hours, and if we were lucky we would get to hear a local sing a good Irish ballad. My favorite part about the locals singing the ballads was that everyone in the bar knew the song as well and would sing along. It was really magical to experience a town that was so infused with their culture.