Samantha Riley’s study abroad blog ends with a moving look at her Irish adventure. She reflects on the beauty, the tranquility and the lasting impression Ireland has made on her life. Less of a "goodbye" and more of an "until next time."
The following morning it was off to Letterfrack for the next day and a half. Bus rides usually tend to be monotonous but this one was anything but that. Outside the window was an expansive, bounteous view of the golden wildflower Gorse that had free reign over the landscape, which was relatively barren except for the fragile glass lakes with only a simple wind necessary to shatter the allusion. The mountains loomed above like mothers protectively huddling over their young. The drive was less than an hour but left a lasting impression on me. It was filled with some of the most beautiful scenery I had encountered in my entire four months abroad.
Letterfrack is a one-street town with only the essentials for daily life: a grocery store, post office and hostel. Most would find it suffocating but I found it quite appealing. Ironically, for being such a remote and small town, it contains another campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. This campus is for people seeking to obtain a degree in furniture design, with its students earning numerous national awards for their work, and more recently, teacher education classes.
Having been blessed with rare weather the day before, this day, of course, was overcast with the occasional spring shower. Weather did not halt us in our attempt to climb Diamond Hill Loop Walk. The visitor’s center at the base of it contained a museum with interesting information about the surrounding areas’ bogs, Twelve Bens mountain range and flora and fauna.
An hour after we started, we summited and even in the rain, the 360° views were breathtaking. Up there it was just us and a scraggle of wild goats and fellow hikers. Down below to the east was Connemara National Park, to the northwest was Kylemore Abbey and to the south, farther than the eye could see was Galway. The descent took us around the back of the hill rather than maneuvering through the roughly-fashioned stone steps we had battled for half the climb. Once again we found ourselves in a café to warm ourselves inside and out afterwards, courtesy of the steaming tea. From there, we curled up in the hostel with the company of our books and no desire to move from the indentations that had begun to form beneath us.
Sunday morning we took off on a short walk near the water for some tranquility. There I reflected as I passed the rolling hills acting as a backdrop for the livestock and their miniature versions, as it was birthing season, grazing in the fields. All which had become customary sights. Amidst everything that happened over these last four and a half months, Ireland had managed to carve itself a special place in my heart that it will have forever. It is not "goodbye" but only "until next time."
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields; and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” An Irish Blessing
Samantha Riley's study abroad trip was filled with sightseeing, literature, delicious food and personal growth. Catch up on her trip, read her blog.