THE Cliffs of Moher

Ireland's flag
Europe » Ireland » County Clare » Cliffs of Moher
July 8th 2008
Published: July 11th 2008
Edit Blog Post

Woke up this morning and Mark looked out the window. “You’re not going to believe this but there’s blue sky out there.” He was right, I didn’t believe it but it was true! Blue sky! Today’s destination: the Cliffs of Moher. Almost every traveler we had talked to along the way said this was a 4-star site and both guide books we have relied on heavily (Rick Steves and the Frommer’s Ireland from $90 a Day) said it is not to be missed. Mark was really whipped after the Dingle driving yesterday and we had looked at booking a tour for the Cliffs but he woke up full of energy this morning and said he’d like to drive.
My first waking thought was that I hadn’t seen the ticket for the parking garage since we checked in yesterday. The ticket has to be validated at the hotel desk and then it is only 5 Euro to park, a deal even by US standards. Florent (who was from France, I asked) had said to have the ticket validated back at the desk before we leave. I had the ticket when I got to the check-in desk but didn’t see it after that. I don’t know if it fell out of my pocket or what but it was NOT in the paperwork from the hotel or anywhere else in the room. I am not good with paper—that’s why I work with computers.
We checked at the desk and no ticket had been turned in but the woman said no worries, just go the office in the car park and they would issue us a new ticket. We went to the office and there was a sign posted: this office will no longer be manned as of 7 July 2008. Please push the help button on the pay machine if you require assistance.
So back to the pay machine and we pushed the help button. It rang. And rang. And rang. Finally a voice said, “Please wait for your call to be connected…..Please wait for your call to be connected…..Please wait for your call to be connected….” You get the idea. After a couple of minutes of this, we decided to go upstairs and have breakfast and then try again which is what we did. We came back to the car park, pushed the help button again, got the same response but finally a man with an Eastern European accent answered. We told him the situation and he said, “I don’t think I can help. I’m not there.” Well we KNEW that! We said we really needed to get the car out of the car park. He said he would call his supervisor and we should call him back in five minutes.
We decided to go see if the Hilton desk could make any better progress. We went back up stairs and told the girl we had lost the ticket and the office was no longer manned. She said, “Just a moment,” and disappeared. I went upstairs to brush my teeth while Mark waited. I figured I could come back downstairs and continue waiting while he brushed his teeth. At least progress towards an exit was being made that way. He actually got upstairs and said they had charged the 5 Euros to the room and we had to push the information button on the exit machine and they would let us out. We got ready and headed out, got to the exit machine: no information button. Backed up, back into the hotel. One of the desk managers came with us this time and he pushed the Help button on the machine. Ring….ring….Please wait for you call to be connected… Finally the same Eastern European man came on, the desk manager explained, the Eastern European said, “Call when you’re at the gate,” the manager said, “We are at the gate,” but the guy had already hung up! So he pushed the button again. Ring….ring….Please wait for your call to be connected… When the EE man came back on, the desk manager said, “WE’RE AT THE GATE!” in a rush and, presto, the gate went up. Moral: DON’T lose your parking ticket in an Irish garage.
I’ll bet you can guess that we got a later start that we had hoped but the weather was still gorgeous. Mark said, “Which way?” and I said, “Let’s try left.” It’s always easier in Ireland to go left! Sure enough, we ended up at a roundabout that had a sign for Galway and the National (rural) Route that we were looking for. The countryside was beautiful, the sun was shining, our vitamin D supplies were being restored. Once we left Limerick we were pretty soon in County Clare. The countryside there is very rugged with shallow rolling hills, lots of small pastures divided with stone fences and corralling loads of sheep. The road to the Cliffs really wasn’t bad and, amazement of all, there were signs starting about 20 miles out that said, “Cliffs of Moher.” This must really be a site, we thought, to have signs this far out.
We got to the Cliffs in about an hour, parked, paid to enter the area and were hit with wind. It was still clear and sunny but my, the wind. It blew so hard it actually made my ear hurt. I put up my hood and Mark pulled out his windbreaker. We stopped at the visitor’s center to get our bearings and then headed out to the Cliffs. There are not words to describe this site. The Cliffs of Moher stretch on for about 5 miles and we could walk about a half mile (up steps) in one direction and about a quarter mile in the other. There is a recreated medieval looking tower at the top of the long stairs that was built as a tourist attraction and look out point for the guy (Mr. O’Brien) who used to own this chunk of real estate. We walked up the ½ mile stairs and just gawked at the scenery: towering cliffs in an infinite array of earth tones with spots of moss and other foliage clinging to them. There are also huge colonies of seagulls and puffins that call the Cliffs home. We walked up the ½ mile, took tons of pictures, then back down and up the ¼ mile path and back down. At every turn there was another breathtaking view. Really spectacular. I can see why it is rated as a don’t miss! After spending about an hour or so viewing and taking pictures, we went into the visitors center and visited their exhibit. All the way up to the Cliffs, we had been saying, “The Cliffs of Insanity!” which is part of the movie The Princess Bride. We have probably seen that movie more than any other movie out there and can quote large parts. In the visitors’ center, we found out that the Cliffs of Moher ARE the Cliffs of Insanity! Who knew! The exhibit was very well done and a must do if you are traveling with children—very kid friendly. We spent about two hours total at the Cliffs and thoroughly enjoyed it.
We headed off to the right instead of back the way we came to take a turn through The Burren, a rocky outlay of rolling hills in the west central part of Ireland. In the Burren you will find stone buildings, stone fences and stone piles everywhere. There was no good place to turn off and take pictures on the road we were on so I don’t have any photographic evidence but the best I can do to describe this is it looked like the fields were growing stones. There was green grass and then rocks sticking up all over the place. Truly amazing.
A classmate of mine had highly recommended Bunratty Castle so we stopped there on the way back. Bunratty has built us a folk museum around the castle and the whole thing is pretty commercial. We got there at about 3:00. We had talked about doing a medieval dinner we had heard about there but the sign said it started at 6:30 and I didn’t want to hang out until then. After we got through the gate, Mark said, “Do you want to do the Medieval Dinner? It starts at 5:30.” Sure enough, he was right; another castle had a dinner starting at 6:30 so we inquired about tickets and were told there had been a cancellation so they could accommodate us.
The castle and park are really worth a skip, in our opinion. They are very commercial and the décor doesn’t feel terribly authentic. For example, those Staffodshire dogs that people put on their fireplaces, one facing in each direction? The decorator for Bunratty folk park must have found a lot of those cheap. The only thing, is the pair of dogs was usually facing in the same direction—both heads to the left or both to the right. I think they are cheaper that way. There were a lot of tourists and the required obnoxious groups of school children, these ones French, with no supervision. Seriously, one of the boys in a particular group was walking up to women and saying, “An Irishman said to me, ‘Can I ----- your mother? What does this mean?’” Isn’t that sweet? Being a mom, I kept thinking of what their mothers would do if they saw these kids behaving this way. And being a teacher I wanted to put them in time out but I digress.
We had been told to be at the castle for dinner at 5:15 and at about that time, we made our way over. There were a lot of people but no obnoxious school children, thankfully! We were asked if we were part of a tour and when we said no, the host (dressed in medieval garb) lit up! “Very good! Just up these stairs!” We went into the great room which, we had been told at Ross castle, was a room reserved for entertaining, tapestries on the wall, etc. This was exactly that. Upon entry we were handed a goblet of mead which was really not bad. I thought it would be overly sweet but it wasn’t. A girl who works at the dinner came and offered us bread and salt and then chatted with us for a while. She said she had been in New York recently, doing a promotion for Bunratty Castle and she froze the whole time because of the air conditioning. She said, “Here, you just freeze because of the weather.” After about 20 minutes of gathering and mead sipping, we went downstairs to the guard room where dinner was served. We were seated with 3 women and a baby from Australia. They had been in Europe for about 5 weeks on a coach tour and were now on their own in Ireland. The young girl with the baby was one of the women’s daughters and she and the baby had just arrived to act as chauffer for their remaining time in Ireland and the UK. Mark mentioned being a scout master and one of the women had strong connections to scouting so we chatted about that for a good part of the rest of the evening.
The dinner was actually quite good and very entertaining. They crowned a Duke and Duchess of the evening, a VERY young looking couple, probably newly married. When the first course came in, the Duke was asked to taste it first to make sure it was acceptable. He said it was and they poured a thick vegetable pottage soup. It was quite good. The second course was spare ribs which were okay and the main course was chicken with a honey apple sauce, potatoes and vegetables. There was wine and water on the tables and, of course, the only utensil was a knife, or “dagger” as they said. After dinner, all of the wait staff sang madrigals. There was also a harpist and a violinist. The music was quite good and, even though not all strictly of the period, very well executed. In the end, we gave the dinner at Bunratty Castle an enthusiastic pass. The castle and folk grounds, I would probably skip.
We got back to the hotel at about 8:30, Mark took possession of the parking ticket () and we went and claimed our free drinks. I imagine they would have given us a Diet Coke for one of them, but why do that when the Bailey’s is so good? We went back upstairs and did a fair bit of packing as we want to get on the road early tomorrow for our trip back to the Eastern part of Ireland.


29th July 2008

RE: Cliffs of Insanity
So glad you made it to the "Cliffs of Insanity"- "I promise on the soul of my father" that I SHALL follow behind you to Ireland at some point :) And I could have TOLD Mark to hold onto the parking ticket- not you! I've always wanted to taste mead- now I'm doubly jealous!
12th September 2009

Cliffs of Moher video email
To whoever might read this: I visited Ireland my first and only time in July 2007. I was overwhelmed with the height, wind and view of the Cliffs of Moher. I am trying to find out more about the video email machines that they have on top of the cliffs. Any clues would be most appreciated. M. Clark

Tot: 0.107s; Tpl: 0.011s; cc: 13; qc: 53; dbt: 0.047s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb