Welcome To Ballyvaughan | My First Week in Ireland

Updated: Jun 7

Long time no see friends! It's been a couple months since I've been on here, but I am back on the move again; this time to Western Ireland! I arrived here last Monday after a 7 hour flight from Newark the evening before. I am living in a small village called Ballyvaughan which is nestled on the western coast of Ireland, and I will be here until mid-June. You may be wondering: "what the hell are you doing in rural Ireland for a month?". Well, to answer your question: I am here for an art residency. For the duration of my stay I will studying at the Burren College of Art working on a photographic series and having an intimate exhibition at the end of my time here. I plan on writing more about my series in a later post, but for the time being I can share that I will be exploring the landscape in the Burren through polaroid emulsion lifts.

If you've been reading my blog for some time you know I lived in London with my two best friends Mandy and Sydney, and that our time in London was cut short due to covid. So in order to make up for our lost time I convinced them to do this art residency with me! So for a second time we are all living together abroad and this time around we have another roommate: Gabby!

(Left to Right: Gabby, Me, Mandy, & Sydney)

With that said, I wanted to share with you all my experience within the first week of living here. I have traveled and lived in a lot of places; from the Arizona desert all the way to one of the busiest cities in the world, London, and I can say this place is like no other. The way of life here is incredibly simple and without a doubt peaceful; from the rolling hills to the cows at every turn (I swear there are more cows than the 250 residents that live here).

Thinking back to last week when I stepped off the plane in Shannon feels like an eternity ago. Taking a red eye meant we had to do the timezone dance where we had to avoid sleep at all costs to adjust to our new home. This was not our first rodeo we knew the rules. Rule #1 Do not sit on your bed. Rule #2 Do not even look at your bed because if you look at it you will find yourself thinking about it and then by proxy sitting on it and then BOOM you've broken rules 1 & 2 already. And most importantly Rule #3 when you get tired keep pushing and that is exactly what we did that first day.

We settled into our housing which is nicknamed the "Bungalow", and I might add it is a total upgrade from our flat in London! We claimed our bedrooms and started unpacking everything. Once we were all settled in we had to keep our energy up, and we did this by taking a walk over to the college. We took it upon ourselves to give ourselves the welcome tour to campus, and decided to stake our claim on the studio spaces we wanted before everyone else arrived on campus the following day. Later in the evening we took the mile walk down towards the village and there we met up with everyone else for our dinner reservations. The one thing I find absolutely hilarious about rural Ireland is the high-vis vests pedestrians must wear when walking on the road so if you see photos of me looking like a construction worker please mind your business I'm just trying to get to where I'm going! That night we ate dinner at a local restaurant called The Wild Atlantic. By the time we got back to our house we were absolutely exhausted and ready to lay down in our beds for real this time.

The next day was our first studio day! We started the morning with meeting the founder of the college, Mary Hawkes Greene, and got the official tour of campus. After settling into our studios we went for an afternoon hike and well this is where things took a bit of a turn. I woke up feeling a bit off on Tuesday morning, but I just assumed it was the jet lag, but clearly that was not the case, because I got very sick on our small afternoon hike. After getting sick on the hike I figured it would be best to go home for the evening. I developed a fever later that night and continued to be very unwell into the next day. Unfortunately, I did miss a bus tour of the Burren on Wednesday, but I would say it was for the best because by Thursday I was feeling better. That day was yet another studio day and I began working on my series. After the day at the studio I took part of the Wood Loop into town for the first time to get some groceries at the local Spar.

The girls and I had a pretty busy Friday & Saturday and by Sunday we were in need of a day of rest. Friday during the day we were all in the studio working hard on our projects. When the evening rolled around we took the Wood Loop into town and had a nice dinner at Monks where I got some delicious fish and chips! We hung around the village for quite awhile and ended up sitting by the bay with an adorable donkey just taking the whole experience in. Then we took the walk back home and settled in for the night ready for our big adventure on Saturday.

(Polaroid of friendly donkey)

We woke up on Saturday to the sun shining here in the Burren and that meant one thing and one thing only: a beach trip! We started the day by taking a walk into the village to check out the local farmers market. We took a look at some of the vendors and walked around for a bit. Then we grabbed lunched at one of the small cafe's in town called the Soda Parlor. From there we took almost a 2 mile walk up to Bishops Quarters Beach. It was still a bit too cold to go into the water, but we relaxed on the coast for about an hour before we made the almost 3 miles walk back home. I think we walked just shy of 8 miles that day. Needless to say, by Sunday we were exhausted. So we took the day to ourselves and read. I wish I could say we did more than read on Sunday but that is really all we did, except for our walk up to Cahermore Fort where we, you guessed it, brought our books and read some more.

(Polaroid of Aille River Hostel)

It is a good thing we took the time to rest on Sunday because Monday was a big day for us; as we were headed to Doolin for the night. We all loaded up into the coach bus and headed to the Cliffs of Moher. This is something that has been on my bucket list for quite sometime so I was beyond excited to go. Before we headed over to the cliffs we dropped some of our stuff off at the hostel we were staying at for the night: Aille River Hostel; which I might add definitely ranked top three on the list of hostels I have stayed at. Our host was so nice and the place was absolutely adorable! But back to the Cliffs of Moher! They were absolutely breathtaking, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to photograph them! You can take a look through some of my photographs in the gallery below!

After we finished exploring the Cliffs of Moher we headed back to Doolin to visit some of the shops there! I was able to get a couple souvenirs for people back home and then we headed over to McGann's which was a local pub. There we got dinner and some drinks while listening to live traditional Irish music. I also tried a shot called a Baby Guinness and it was delicious and the cherry on top was that they had my favorite cider Kopparberg; which I used to drink when I lived in London!

Really that concludes my first week in Ireland as today I arrived back home in Ballyvaughan! I plan on continuing to write about my time here for the next three weeks, and I hope that you enjoyed this post! I would love to hear any comments or questions you have about my stay here! Until next time!

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