Coveted Connemara & Cong Excursion

Lyndsy Hatfield is a student at The College of St. Rose and an ISA Featured Blogger. Lyndsy is currently studying abroad with ISA in Galway, Ireland.

One of my favorite pictures of the countryside that I've ever taken.
One of my favorite pictures of the countryside that I’ve ever taken.

When I learned I would be travelling to Connemara, my heart soared. When I learned I would be visiting Cong too, I did imaginary triple back-flips and cart-wheels. To understand my excitement you must know my favorite movie, The Quiet Man. I won’t bore you with my enthusiasm. I will simply say that if you enjoy corny, classic movies about Ireland and its people then it is worth watching. This great film takes place in Ireland and was filmed in the town of Cong and the surrounding countryside in the Connemara region. Whenever I contemplated a trip to Ireland with my mom, I always was faced with the problem of finding a tour that went to all the places we wanted to go, including Cong. Now when she arrives at the end of semester, we can go anywhere she wants, because I will have already seen the most important village.

People bring pieces of fabric from a loved ones who is ill. They tie the cloth to the tree and as the cloth disintegrates, so does that person's illness.
People bring pieces of fabric from a loved ones who is ill. They tie the cloth to the tree and as the cloth disintegrates, so does that person’s illness.

Needless to say, I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to see the place where my favorite film was filmed, learn about the history of Kylemore Abbey, and to finally see Connemara. Whenever I researched Ireland, I found Connemara talked about as one of the most beautiful regions in Ireland. I couldn’t wait to find out for myself.

Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey

As I was riding the bus out into the Irish countryside, I had a moment: A moment where I had to stop myself from being grumpy because it was 9:00am and remind myself that I was in Ireland, the country of my dreams, of my ancestors, of everything I had spent the past 6 months working towards. I needed to get a grip and appreciate the immense hills that were racing by my window, and above all smile. Once I did that, my pictures started coming out clearer. I got more excited as the time past. I had the most glorious soup and bread and Jameson’s flavored chocolate truffle bar. I walked the gardens and then the manor, snapping away on my phone wherever I went.

Jameson's Chocolate Truffle bar
Jameson’s Chocolate Truffle bar

Afterwards came Cong. I stepped off of the bus and couldn’t believe more people didn’t stick around for the guided Quiet Man tour around the village or that I wasn’t screaming like a four-year old at Disney. I walked and listened as I learned the secrets about the set that remained. I was in awe on cloud 9 and I only had about a half hour to enjoy it all.

Behind me, right where the stone wall stops is one of the many locations in the film where the fight took place
Behind me, right where the stone wall stops is one of the many locations in the film where the fight took place

For our last stop of the day, our tour-guide took us to these wonderful ruins, of an abbey or a castle of some sort. It had some long convoluted Irish name that I can neither pronounce or remember. Suffice to say, I listened to him explain what each room in the castle was for, who did what, where they did it and why, all the while wandering off in my own direction, climbing stairs, getting viewpoints that the crowd didn’t. I went at my own pace, and enjoyed it all the more.

The lovely ruins, the last stop of the day.
The lovely ruins, the last stop of the day.

On the ride home to Galway, Ray, the bus driver, taught the group two songs, Molly Malone and another that was similar to ‘ Ol’ McDonald’ with lots of verses, building on the last. He was quite a character, whose driving skills had me praying, just as his anecdote said I would.

Sheep!
Sheep!

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