Ireland: Part 5

The Cliffs of Moher. My best friend described it as the most beautiful place she’d ever been when we were sophomores in college. The Cliffs have remained fixed in my brain as a place I needed to go.

They were the pinnacle of our trip. When planning our trip to Ireland, we decided to focus it around the Cliffs and take a trip directly west of Dublin.

So it was finally day to see the Cliffs.

Unfortunately, it was also the weather turned. I spent the day before scanning the news and seeing we could catch a break. Thankfully, it the rain would pull back towards the early afternoon. We would be able to see the cliffs.

When we woke up that morning, the rain drummed on the window pane. It was not promising. We had decided to spend the morning checking out some ruins in the Burren in County Clare. The guidebook had mentioned Poulnabrone dolmen that was supposed to be very iconic of prehistoric tombs in Ireland. Nearby was Caherconnell Stone Fort, a relatively younger stone fort.

Our GPS had other plans for us. Somehow it decided to take us to the middle of Ennis, a moderate sized town, thirty minutes away from the tomb and fort. Not quite the ferry incident on our honeymoon in Scotland.

We took a scenic route through the Burren, a spectacularly singular place in Ireland. We finally found the Poulnabrone dolmen tomb in the middle of a clearing. There are these stone formations that stick up, kinda like teeth, that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was a beautiful almost barren landscape. Hence the name, the Burren.

Nearby was the Caherconnell Stone Fort. Because we had taken so long to get there, we managed to be there in time for a sheep dog demonstration. I was ecstatic that we would get to see the demonstration. After a quick and unexpectedly tasty lunch, we went out to the demonstration where the audience stood beneath a tarp overhead while overlooking a field with stones. Next to the viewing area was a paddock of sheep and dogs. That’s when the rain really decided to come down for us; I continually had to wipe the water from my glasses. But it was well worth it. The trainer showed us what these dogs could do. With a series of words and whistles, the dogs led sheep around the field obstacle course and got them into a ring of stones. Some of the dogs were a little…disobedient, which of course was charming for us. Some of the dogs were cattle dogs so they were a bit more aggressive with the sheep, nipping at them, whereas the sheep dogs would nudge them in the right direction.

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At the end of the demonstration, a few folks got to try their hand at calling out directions to the dogs. I volunteered but learned quickly that I’m not very good at ordering the dogs around. The little girl after me was rather astonishingly good! I won’t quit my day job!

Then we decided to head to the Cliffs of Moher. The weather was still kinda shaky, intermittent rain, but we decided to take a chance. We drove out on top of hills, the ocean right there before us, to the Cliffs. We were early enough that we could do a little hike before we tried the boat out. We parked the car, and wandered to the cliffs. Holy cow. Thankfully, the rains had gone away but the winds were really strong. The views were amazing. Tall cliffs with the ocean smashing against them. We followed a little path, far from the cliff edge, that was sanctioned by the site. You could climb over the little wall and get closer but extreme caution must be heeded. Parents with children need to keep their eyes (and hands) on their kids all the time. People do fall off those cliffs. I found it kinda amusing that the sanctioned path was next to an electrified fence, protecting a field of grazing cows.

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We couldn’t linger too much because we had a boat tour to go on. I had decided that it might be nice to go on boat and see the Cliffs from the waterside instead of on top. So we drove to the dock in Doolin, the town at the harbor and nearby the Cliffs. When I checked in, the sailor said, “Just so you know, it’s kinda rocky out there.” I can get motion sick rather easily but I was excited for the adventure.

We soon boarded the boat and we were off. I did see some jellyfish in the water below while in the port. My husband and some other passengers saw a dolphin riding along with the boat. It even jumped out of the water but I had my back turned. Alas.

Pretty soon, we realized what the sailor meant by “rocky.” I became acutely aware of how tiny our vessel was in the grand Atlantic Ocean. The swells were as tall as the boat. Everyone had to hold on for dear life. I did calculate the possibility of survival if the boat were to capsize. I had been a distance swimmer in high school but I never swam in the ocean. It was extraordinarily terrifying and exhilarating. My heart raced every time a wave rocked the boat up and down. We could see the Cliffs, majestic in the background, with a tiny bit of blue sky. This was a reminder that nature is a force to contend with. I would totally do it again.

Pano of the Cliffs
I was trying to do a pano of the Cliffs while on the boat and this is what happened.

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OUr next stop was our B&B in Doolin, a little place overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. When we checked in, our hostess inquired how we were. When we told her that we had just gotten off a boat, she was shocked. She had seen the boats bobbing up and down and had pitied anyone on them. We, on the other hand, were thrilled to have had the experience. We had a spot of tea, which was refreshing.

Then we were off to the Cliffs again. This time we ventured further along the path and even on to other side of the wall. Again, we could see the waves slamming against the Cliffs. I watched the many birds fly about the area; clearly, the Cliffs were home to many a bird species. It was as beautiful as I was hoping. And very windy. At one point, we clambered a bit closer to the edge (though really, not very close at all) and the winds got so bad, we crouched down beside some stones until the wind died down!

 

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I highly recommend the Cliffs of Moher. I found it kinda amazing in contrast to the US’s natural wonders. When we went to Mammoth Caves last year, we found many roadside attractions nearby. We went to Dinosaur World, which was amazing. There were WIld West places, bumper cars, ziplines, etc. We went on a ski lift, a slide, and rode horses. There were several other caves that you could visit along with a wild animal zoo. Cliffs of Moher had nothing in comparison. There were a few shops at the Cliffs but that was it. Doolin, a town very close by, was relatively small with a few pubs. There were lots of B&Bs but that’s it.

That night, we ventured into Doolin to hear some good music. We found a pub that had some seats available and made friends with the folks at the table. The music was damn good. It was a group called Dubhlinn and one of the men played uilleann pipes, a personal favorite. It would be the only place on the trip where I heard pipes being used. The set was some of the best Irish music I’ve ever heard!

If you’ve just started reading, check out the trip from Part 1.

That’s all for now!

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