February 20, 2019

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

Ireland Solo Adventure

Author Name

Ashton Haze-Heacock

Author Program

Ireland: Social Sciences

Program Semester and Year

Spring 2019

Student Major


After familiarizing myself with Ireland in the past month, I have been to all the four quadrants the country has to offer. From living in the east,  study tours to the north, west, and south, and my own independent travels of cross sections in the time in between, I have found that adventure really awaits you wherever you go in Ireland.  

A fews weeks ago, I took advantage of one of my days off to go on a solo adventure to County Sligo, located in the west of Ireland. I took the train to the town of Sligo with no real plans as to what I was doing that day, only knowing that it was the birthplace of the famous Irish literary figure W.B. Yeats (Which I learned the day before). I made my way into town and found a pub to have breakfast at, with the intention of making friends or getting some recommendations of what to do. 

A quick side note about breakfast: in Ireland, it really is the most important meal of the day. The traditional Irish breakfast features two pieces of ham, two thick sausages, two eggs, brown and white pudding, potatoes, toast, a half tomato, and baked beans. This is a lot to conquer in one sitting but is necessary for what the adventures of Ireland require of you. This meal is something that is meant to fuel you till the end of the day, which, in my experience, prompts questions from the people watching you eat what it is you will be doing that day.

As I ate my breakfast with my pint of Guinness (for health) I made conversation with the bartender about what exactly it was I should do with the energy from this hefty breakfast, to which I was recommended a nearby hiking trail 30 minutes away. I finished my meal, purchased a bus ticket, and found myself in one of the most scenic areas of Ireland that I have been to. Finally, I made it to the destination that just hours before I did not know I was heading to, the Queen Maeve Trail.

The bus dropped me off right at the start, with a simple sheep’s gate as an entrance. I walked through roughly half a mile of grassy meadows that were populated by sheep and horses, all greeting me as I made my way to the wooded area ahead. There were remnants of an old stone cottage at the beginning of the forest, which looked as though it had been there for quite a few centuries, looking over a view of the Irish Coast and wide fields, as well as the small town that was becoming smaller and smaller the further I proceeded.

The trail had a narrow walkway made from wooden planks with thick nails for traction accompanied by a thin rope to help brace myself from the punishing winds that would literally push me back. I marched all the way to the end of the trail, where at the tallest point stood a huge man-made pile of rocks. I climbed up to what I learned was the supposed grave of the mythological Queen Maeve, and looked out onto county Sligo from all angles as far as my eyes could see. I sat upon the tallest point of the rocks, the wind blowing harder than I even knew possible, and all I could think of was how I am in a place like no other. It was a moment I will truly remember forever, and one that reminds me to be grateful for the opportunity that this trip has given me to do what we all should- explore.