6 Reasons to Visit the West of Ireland

How the West was is Fun – 6 Reasons to Visit the West of Ireland

1. Shop Street, Galway City

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Romantic images of ‘The Magical Ireland’ aside, Shop Street in Galway really is the Diagon Alley of Irish muggledom (yes I did just use a fictional place as a means of comparison- what of it). This narrow, winding, and densely populated street is lined with everything from high street brand names to Eastern European market stalls (on a Saturday), buskers of every kind imaginable, and even several pubs where anything less than a 24-hour live-music céilí is classed as a ‘quiet day’. (Taaffe’s and Tigh Cóilí). The cobblestones have been known to cause several tipsy topples and are best navigated in comfortable, non-heeled shoes!

2. Cliffs of Moher

 I couldn’t have made this list without featuring probably the most recognisable chunk of land in the country down in the chinstrap of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are eerily parallel to sea-level and rise up out of the waves as steady and firm as a perfectly layered cake – green icing and all. On a good day, it’s windy. On a bad day, it’s downright perilous…But still very very pretty. Multiple outer layers recommended, and no filters necessary! #OneForInstagram

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3. The Aran Islands

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Ireland’s answer to the island-hopping backpacking jaunts of Thailand and SouthEast Asia, pack your kit bag and a couple of cans and catch the ferry out to Aran, for as satisfying a retreat as any pristine, sandy, ‘untouched’ beach in Indonesia could provide. You won’t find any coconuts, but rumour has it there’s a rock somewhere on Inis Meáin in the shape of Leonardo Di Caprio’s head….

           More on the Aran Islands here

4. Connemara

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From Spiddal, to Ros a Mhíl, to ‘lock-ins’ and incomprehensible local dialects (even some English speakers), Connemara really is an experience that most Irish people fail to appreciate completely. Stunningly barren landscapes roll into sudden clusters of habitation, the local pub the central hub of communication and shop attendants so charmingly Irish that they marvel at the foreign intrusion of ‘a mango, no less!’ onto the fruit shelves of the local grocers. Gaeilge is actively spoken here and resides as harmoniously alongside Bean an Tí (woman of the house) as the delicious home-baked goods in our tums after a windswept walk on the coral beach in Carraroe.

5. Lahinch

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Although we’re a far cry from Bali’s Batu Balong beach or the warm, attractive swells of more tropical climates, the West Coast of Ireland has been dubbed a surfer’s paradise and boasts several ideal spots such as Lahinch for a days’ floundering in the Wild Atlantic Sea. If you’re like me and fail fantastically at being tied to a large piece of polystyrene and fiberglass, numerous schools and lessons are available, Lahinch Surf Experience being among the most noted. Further up the West Coast, Mullaghmore in Sligo has even been featured in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best Spots to Catch a Big Wave’. No fear of the waves stealing your swimsuit here, as inch-thick wetsuits are a necessity, yet still might not protect from teeth-and bone-shattering temperatures – it’s gonna be COLD.

6. Regular Direct Buses to/from Dublin

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This is the clincher for many tourists to Dublin who may be interested in taking a trip West. Both Citylink and GoBus operate a non-stop hourly service leaving from Dublin Airport and the city, at extremely affordable prices. Comfy, efficient, and guaranteed to get you there within the 2 1/2 hours’ promised time.If you’re lucky you might even get a plug socket!

If that’s not enough to get you itching to explore the West of Ireland, check out these top budget Air B’n’B listings available now! 

Useful Links

Lahinch Surf Experience
Tig Cóilí
Taaffe’s Bar
The Cliffs of Moher
Aran Island Ferries
Trá an Dóilín Carraroe
Wild Atlantic Way
Citylink
Gobus

Seaweed and Martinis

Foodswings Reviews – The Meeting House

Burmese Cuisine in the heart of Temple Bar!

This place has been on my ‘must-try-sometime’ list of restaurants and bars in Dublin that I walk past regularly for a while now, although for no particular reason– it just looks very cool from the outside. Graffitied exterior and prime location off Meeting House Square in Temple Bar (hence the name) aside, as soon as you walk into The Meeting House it’s clear the place means business with it’s colourfully decorated and well-lit walls scattered with Marilyn Monroe-meets-The Joker quotes and pictures that are guaranteed to get even the most awkward of Tinder-dates talking.
That’s not all there would be to discuss, as every single option on the menu contained something we found very difficult to pronounce, and we mused for a good fifteen minutes over all the exotic looking choices. As there were 3 of us, we decided eventually to go with the menu option of 6 dishes for €36 (it was a Monday), as opposed to the 3 for €21 that would have suited just two. We were chuffed to discover that all prices were €3 cheaper on Sundays and Mondays, a fact which greatly influenced our decisions and indulgent sides!
I must point out here that all the portions themselves were quite small – think 3 tapas between 2 people, 6 between three – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it was dinnertime!
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My choice, which was also to share (when it comes to tapas, I find things generally don’t get too heated so long as everyone is on mutual terms about the whole ‘sharing’ thing!) was a Fillet of Sea Bass with Stem Broccoli in a fish broth infused with Lemongrass, and the Crab Salad with strips of Mango and Peanuts. This was extremely tasty, however slightly small, and definitely would not have served as a full dinner.

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As we had all agreed we would try each others’ dishes, I also succeeded in tasting the Tuna Sashimi on a bed of seaweed, Prawn Tempura, and the Organic Chicken Coconut Curry, all of which were delicious – the chicken curry was probably the only dish big enough to be considered a satisfying full meal in itself, but we enjoyed picking and tasting, also ordering a side of Sweet Potato Fries because let’s be honest, who doesn’t order Sweet Potato Fries when they’re on the menu?!
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Although initially being refused entry as we had arrived ten minutes prior to opening at 5.30pm (talk about eager eaters!!), the service proved itself both speedy and cheerful, with our drinks order arriving promptly before the food, and being checked back consistently every 10-15 minutes to ensure our continued satisfaction.
A good selection of craft beers such as Brew Dog and Five Lamps Lager kept us chirpy throughout the meal, and instead of asking for a dessert menu we decided to indulge in some of the extremely attractive-looking cocktails following the 6 empty plates’ hasty departure from the table in the arms of the attractive waiter. The ‘Pornstar Martini’ came complete with half a passion fruit floating on the top, while the decision to sample a classic ‘Old-Fashioned’ really allowed us to channel our inner Don Draper from Mad Men, with a curled orange-rind and crystallized glass only partially masking the strength of the whiskey.
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Overall, our group thoroughly enjoyed the visit to The Meeting House, and our decision to move elsewhere for a final drink was only made because we felt another ‘Old-Fashioned’ would have sent us too far over the edge! The fact that it was a Monday and everything was a whole 3 euro cheaper (€6.66 for all dishes and drinks on Sundays and Mondays!!) really added to our cheerfulness as we bid farewell to the establishment, accidentally spilling some candlewax on the counter as we tried to read some of the other quotes written on the walls inside.

While we were lucky that our choice of day was in accordance to the cheaper menu prices, Tuesday-Saturday prices would still warrant a visit, with all dishes and drinks standing at €9.99. If you’re seeking a bigger feed however, you’d be better off ordering the 3 or 6 dishes deal, depending on the size of your company – Burmese Tapas would be a better description of the single menu options, but for light and exotic bites The Meeting House succeeds in every way. Overall atmosphere was extremely pleasant and welcoming, despite the rain outside, and the playlist was great. Will surely be returning soon – if only for the generous cocktail sizes!

Useful Links:
The Meeting House on Facebook 
The Meeting House Website