I fell in love with
in 2007. Before that, I’d only made two very brief visits, a day trip to Ireland in my teens and a flying visit (literally!) to speak at a conference in Antrim in the 1990’s. However, my very first fan-fiction story was set partly in Dublin and I wanted to check out the background details. So in October 2007 a friend and I went to Ireland Galway for a few days.
Since then, I’ve been back seven times, and I’m going again at the end of May. I’ve tried to define just what it is about the ‘Emerald Isle’ which draws me back there.
Of course, the scenery is one of the reasons. The west coast is breath-taking –
sheer cliffs rising from the sea
and, of course, the sun setting over
. Galway Bay
Inland, the mountain areas are spectacular – my favourite area is Connemara.
Then there’s the heritage - ranging from pre-historic to more modern history. Wherever you go, you can’t get away from the richness of
– from the bustling narrow streets in the centre, lined with shops, small cafes and pubs, where University students mingle with tourists, and where buskers play fiddles at every street corner – to the quiet charm of Claddagh with its colourful cottages lining the quayside. Galway City
These days you can visit ‘Irish Pubs’ in cities all over the world, but nothing compares with a REAL Irish pub, with its nooks and crannies and snugs (small private rooms with just one table), the babble of Irish voices around you and a small group of musicians playing real Irish music. Sheer magic! (and the food (“pub grub”) is pretty good too!)
There are so many more things I could mention, but I'll end with this one. The Irish people are so friendly. Complete strangers will chat to you in cafes and bars, they’ll wish you ‘good morning’ (not ‘top o’th’morning’ – which is Hollywood Irish!) when you’re in a small Irish village, and they’re more than helpful in every hotel, shop, cafe and tourist attraction I've visited.