January 13, 2004
We left Dublin this morning and headed to the west to Galway with a stop at Clonmacnoise along the way. Clonmacnoise is a monastic site founded by St. Ciaran in 545 AD along the river Shannon. Clonmacnoise became a center of wealth because it had several silversmiths and goldsmiths. Because of its wealth, the Anglo-Normans and even the Irish sacked it several times. Each time it was attacked, the monks rebuilt it, but eventually it was completely brought down. Today the site still serves as a spiritual center for many people. There is
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a path of pilgrimage to St. Ciaran's grave. People take soil away from the site believing that it has healing powers. The Pope even held a mass there in the '70s.
I have found Galway to be a rather interesting place already. This is what I pictured an Irish town to be like, quaint with big pedestrian walkways. It doesn't feel as crowded as Dublin, and I have found the locals to be rather friendly. One of the local Irishmen offered to buy me a few drinks if I would sit down and talk with him for a while. We exchanged a few ideas about politics, talked about literature, and discussed differences in culture. He also shared a few Irish folk myths with me. It was fun and enlightening to sit and talk with some local folks without the tour guide's influence.