The last few rays of the sun bounced off the low hanging clouds that were beginning to creep across the evening sky, creating the pink/blue hue that had become my favorite color. The last few surfers straggled onto the beach, ready to clean their boards and rinse off before meeting up again in their favorite pubs. I continued down the promenade, looking forward to a pint myself. The breeze was a bit chilly, but I wouldn’t have traded the sense of peace I felt for anything.
The month of October 2016 when I lived in Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland, was the most relaxed I had ever been. In Ireland, I continued my studies and publishing internship, but somehow none of my work had the same exhausting effect as it did in the U.S. In Ireland time slows down. Locals take time to go on morning walks and stop to chat about the latest happenings with the neighbors. They truly believe that life is meant to be enjoyed, not just lived. Yes, many shops did not open right at the hour listed on their signs, but the change of pace was worth it.
I found that while I lived in Lahinch I didn’t need to schedule in a social life. I could bring my work down to the local café or pub and at least one of the people in town would strike up a conversation with me. This not only gave me a study break, but often inspiration, as well. One of the servers at my favorite café also taught surf lessons at one of the surf schools down on the beach, prompting me to give surfing a try. One of the best golf courses in the world is in Lahinch where one of my friends played a round among the ancient ruins of the castle course. I was also charmed by the live traditional Irish music after being recommended a pub in Doolin, a small village a few miles down the road from Lahinch.
Once I made it as far as Doolin, however, I had to keep going. About 8 km further down the road are the Cliffs of Moher, one of the best views in the world. Used as the Cliffs of Insanity in the film The Princess Bride, they truly live up to the name, rising up to 214 meters from the Atlantic Ocean. Whether looking up from the ferry at the base or down from O’Brien’s Lookout at the highest point, the grandeur of the Cliffs of Moher is nearly incomprehensible.
Even those that weren’t locals had great advice about places to visit and things to do based on their experiences. Many tourists going through town recommended taking the ferry to the Aran Islands known for their handmade Irish wool products and use of the traditional Irish language, Irish Gaelic. Surfers, on the other hand, often talked about big wave surfing, which is when conditions are right to produce a wave over 12m high. These waves usually break around the Cliffs of Moher and only the best surfers in the world attempt to surf them.
I didn’t meet an unfriendly person the entire month that I lived in Lahinch. The townspeople were all helpful and curious, and the many visitors were very interesting and social. Because Lahinch has become a popular surfing spot, people come from all over the world to catch some waves. I met surfers and tourists from Wales, France, and Australia in my first weekend alone. Their stories were some of the best I had ever heard and it became obvious to me that the vibrancy of Lahinch went far beyond its brightly colored storefronts.