The start to a wondrous week, right? Uh, just one problem - us lasses were a mere 20 years old at the time, and had little knowledge of something called "restraint" when it came to the consumption of alcohol. You can fill in the blanks, but after 2 days, our hostess (Barry's mom) made the polite suggestion that an overnight visit to Inishmore (one of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland) might be a good idea.
Now, dear reader, I'm not sure if you've been to Ireland in January, but it is what I would define as cold. Now drop cold ten degrees, add a persistent sea breeze, and rain into the mix, and you've got a general weather report for the Aran Islands. Bottom line: it is only a winter tourist destination for people who are literally forced to go there.
We crossed Galway Bay in the dark, so I'm not sure what the view was like - I do remember feeling like we were getting tossed around in a dingy, and Barry vomiting in a barrel due to seasickness. However, I will say that once we landed we were able to find warm and cheap accommodations at the youth hostel a short walk from the pier. Hanging out at the adjoining pub for hours of drinking, conversation, and "Who Wants to be a British Millionaire" actually ended up being one of the most memorable nights of the trip. The isolation (with the exception of the few other buildings in town) was an amazing feeling.
The following day we were lucky enough, with a slight break in the weather, to rent bikes and cycle to Dun Aonghasa - ruins of a fortress dating back over 2,000 years. Not to mention an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean.(Barry and I at Dun Aonghasa - Meriel WIMPED OUT!)
We survived the boat ride back that evening, and were rewarded with another couple days of pubs & pints.
Yes, I may moan about the weather, but all in all the Aran Islands are totally worth a visit!