“There are no strangers here, only friends you haven‘t met yet,”
- W.B. Yeats
We left Galway, bound for the small village of Annascaul in County Kerry, in the southwestern corner of Ireland. We passed through really beautiful areas today, and I will always remember the green fields and the stone walls, with contented sheep and cows grazing or lazing in the fields.
We left our B&B about 8:30, following breakfast. I had porridge, which was ok, but the best part again was the soda bread. Susan’s full Irish wasn’t as good as O’Neill’s in Dublin. It was a cloudy morning, but the sun broke through now and again. After we left Cong yesterday the weather improved and it was quite pleasant in Galway last evening, with the sun making an appearance.
Our first stop was at Dunguaire Castle, which dates back to 1525. It was a small, picturesque castle with a walking path around it, with a lovely view of the Atlantic coast. We wandered around for a bit, walking the path around the castle, and admiring the scenery. We made a unscheduled stop at a chocolate factory, as I needed to use a restroom (but practically everyone
else also took advantage of the facilities too so I didn’t feel so bad making the bus stop). We bought some chocolate and Susan also bought a lovely wool scarf.
We next stopped to see the leprechaun house and leprechaun church, two very cute, small stone structures. We were now in an area called the Burren, in County Clare. The Burren is a stark, karst landscape comprised of glacial-era limestone. It‘s quite something to see up close. Incredibly, there are stone walls here too, which couldn’t have served any purpose. Stone walls going up steep limestone hills. Stone walls on stone. More examples of the Famine walls.
This area is known as the Wild Atlantic Way and is just beautiful. We stopped at the “baby cliffs”, which are a lot smaller than the well- known Cliffs of Moher, but are very dramatic and very beautiful. I couldn’t get too close to the edge as it was a sheer drop off. On one side of the road are the baby cliffs, and on the other side is the Burren. What an amazing area. It was so interesting to walk in the stark landscape of the Burren.
to the town of Doolin, closest town to the Cliffs of Moher, and met our boat at the Doolin docks for our boat ride to view the Cliffs of Moher from the water. This activity is weather dependent, and the Atlantic is often too rough to do it, but luckily today we were good to go. The swells leaving the docks were pretty large, but the boat rode them well. We sat outside at the back of the boat and enjoyed the fresh air and the views of the wild Atlantic over to the Aran Islands. The boat ride was about 45 minutes or so, out alongside the cliffs, then turning around and coming back, so people on both sides of the boat got views of the cliffs. It was quite amazing to see the cliffs from the water. The people on the tops of the cliffs were just teeny specks, so that gives you an idea of how high they are (214 metres or just over 700 feet). It was a really enjoyable boat ride.
After we returned to the docks we stopped for a quick lunch. I had a nice vegetarian quiche and salad and Susan had
a ham and cheese “bap” (sandwich on a bun), and we had ginger beer (non alcoholic) to drink. Then we headed out to the Cliffs of Moher, to view them from the top. The cliffs were amazing! A definite highlight of our time in Ireland. From the visitor‘s centre you can take the path going right or going left, and we chose the right. We walked uphill to O’Brien’s Tower, which is a stone observation tower built in 1835, currently undergoing renovations and so is covered in scaffolding, unfortunately, so we couldn’t see the view from the tower.
Susan had enough climbing at this point and decided to go back, but I continued on the path, leaving the official path and continuing on the foot path outside the boundaries of the park area. Here there are no walls or fencing of any kind between you and the sheer drop of the cliffs, and the views are spectacular. Well, they were spectacular before too, but there was a view of an incredible sheer cliff which was mind boggling. I couldn‘t believe how close people were getting to the edge, lying down with their shoulders and heads over the edge, posing
for photos sitting on the edge with their legs dangling. You couldn’t pay me to do that! As it was I had to tell myself I was ok several times. I wouldn’t have been able to walk along the path at all, but the right side of the path was recessed somewhat into the ground, and I felt much safer there than on the open path only a few feet from the edge. At one point I was taking photos from the safe path, when a friendly chap coming the other way said something along the lines of that I should be over there in the photo, and I said no way, I was getting no closer to the edge, so he said to crouch down where I was and he took some photos of me. Nice guy 😀.
I kept a close eye on the time as we had to be back on the bus at 3:45, so after awhile I turned back and made a quick stop at the visitors centre to use the bathroom, and then met Susan back on the bus, and we were off. Susan had made a few purchases at the gift shop
for gifts for our cat sitters. We drove along the Atlantic coast, through cute villages (even small ones had several pubs!). This is a rural area of narrow two lane roads, lined by green fields. We’ve passed lots of sheep but this area seemed to have more cows than sheep.
We got to Killimer just in time for the 5 pm ferry across the River Shannon, which took us to County Kerry. At this point it started raining (luckily it wasn’t raining for the boat ride or when we were walking along the cliffs). We passed through the very cute towns of Kerry and Tralee, and arrived in the very small picturesque village of Annascaul for the night. We stayed at a B&B with a thatched roof, right next door to Paddy’s Palace hostel, where some of the group were staying (on the Paddywagon tours you have the choice of staying in hostels or in B&Bs). Dinner at Paddy’s Palace was included (starter and main or main and dessert). Susan and I shared a starter (vegetarian spring rolls) and dessert (bannofee pie), and we both had fish and chips (which were quite good). We each had a few pints
of Guinness and Susan had a Paddy irish whiskey. I tried it and it actually was pretty good (and I don‘t like scotch at all). Then there was karaoke, yes, karaoke in this small Irish village. An Irish guy brings his karaoke machine and sings a few songs (he’s actually quite good). Some of the group were brave enough to get up and sing, helped by the fact there were some professional musicians in our group. It was pouring rain when we left for the quick run next door to our B&B. We heard the rain and wind when we went to bed, hoping it would improve by morning. We will be horse back riding in Killarney National Park tomorrow! 😊
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