Get it? Like “more or less”? This is just one of several cheesy things our group has done today as we move down the list of tourist sites and must-sees of Ireland. While several hours on the bus to get to the opposite side of Ireland for the Cliffs of Moher and Galway were rough, the view was definitely worth it. Once we got there, I was more than eager to get right on the trail and skip the museum portion both because of time and excitement. The cliffs were indescribably gorgeous and I couldn’t help but wonder how something like this is even formed. No pictures do it justice and truly don’t show how incredible the cliffs looked. Since we had more traveling and other stops planned for the day, I was sad that I couldn’t take more time to explore all the trails and areas around the cliffs, which I could’ve spent hours staring down at.
To make the most of our short time there, I didn’t even glance at the gift shop, which honestly thinking about it, probably had about the same trinkets I’ve been seeing at a lot of places. So although the cliffs themselves aren’t altered by human hand, you can definitely see the impact of tourism on the area in general. Everything is an opportunity to buy more, and given the excitement of the moment, often end up leaving with things you don’t really need. Of course, this provides a good source of revenue for these businesses because people are going to come visit, so why not get a few more euros out of it?
Later in the day, we got lunch in Galway and maybe a bit embarrassingly, couldn’t stop singing the Ed Sheeran song “Galway Girl.” It was so fun getting to see more stores and places to eat along the way, but it was very clear that we were tourists, and American ones at that. When we sat down to eat at one place, naturally our accents give it away first, followed by some clear habits and gaps in communication. Something about the way we order food and speak to the waiters, they will inevitably ask “American? Yeah, I thought so.” or something along those lines.
Also in Galway, we had some time to look at the shops (both gift stores and others) nearby. It was really interesting to see the tacky “Ireland Gifts” signs filled with the same sock patterns and mugs found all the way back in Dublin right next to say, a thrift store or music store, that locals probably shop more at. It made me realize that there are people that live there all the time and have to deal with tourists constantly. So aside from tailoring some stores to visitors and bringing in revenue this way, the cultural implications are also very present. Although we should be adhering to the local customs, its very clear that they cater some aspect of their services just to help move us through the dining experience and get us out.
All in all, the tourist experience is very present from how businesses carry tacky trinkets in every store to how the locals “deal with” tourists in every exchange. If you ask me, the biggest highlights would definitely be the natural beauty and taking in the sights of Ireland, and pictures of those practically sell themselves. If I needed to sell someone on visiting Ireland and they’re anything like me, just pictures of colorful buildings lining the winding streets would draw me in. A lot of the museums are fun for a while, but there’s just something about walking the streets and experiencing what everyday people that walk them feel like. Give me the local experience over tourist traps any day.