My time in Tulsk lasted only a few days, but it provided a few home-cooked meals and a roof over my head. Staying here also gave me the chance to save money I’d need to continue the trip to school in Ballyvaughan. The farm was so far removed from the village center that there was no possibility of spending a few pounds here and there on food, drink, or activities. Like my time in Dublin, I mostly kept to myself while on the farm, taking pictures and reading my travel guide. Over the course of just a few days I had two very different Irish experiences – the bustling city life of Dublin and the isolation of a Roscommon farm.
I moved onto to Galway, thanking Pauline for her hospitality. Just a short bus drive away, Galway offered yet another experience. A city, yes, it’s population of 60,00 was roughly ten times smaller than that of Dublin’s. In many ways it reminded me of my hometown, Portland, Maine – not only in population, but also its working waterfront, connection to arts and music, and walkability.
I spent a lot time in Eyre Square/Kennedy park, photographing or drawing the architecture, passersby, and old men philosophizing on park benches. I walked along the rock walls, past Spanish Arch, on the beach and into the area known as Claddagh. I would repeat this almost daily, exploring new parts of the city.
I was alone, in a facsimile of my hometown, not wanting to call the States and risk spending more money. It was an odd feeling – I didn’t want to go home, but I still managed to be homesick.
If I could pinpoint one way I’ve evolved since this trip in 1999 it’s that I would never avoid talking to people, particularly while traveling. It took me breaking away from my hometown, family, and friends to realize that I thrive on conversations, soaking up as much as I can about people, places, and culture. More importantly, the time alone taught me how to reflect and appreciate quiet times. To this day I find this trip entering my mind, not only because of the experience, but what it taught me about myself and how it changed me as person.
Movie referenced: The Quiet Man (please enjoy the dated sexism from my fellow Portlander, John Ford)