Our evening out in Galway was wonderful, but not nearly long enough. We took a walk through the pedestrian area where there are numerous bars and restaurants as well as a lot of street buskers. Our favourite was a band of five who were friends and playing for the first time in a couple months. They were simply fantastic. A couple violins, a guitar, a washboard and a beat box. About as authentic as you can get.
We ended up spending a couple hours in a pub and ran into two couples who were over from the States and were on pub #7 when we saw them. It turns out one of the women was originally from Puyallup, but now lived in Connecticut. Small world.
We forgot to set an alarm clock and did not wake up until 8:30. We had to meet Liam by 9:30 so it was a mad dash to shower, pack, have breakfast and meet Liam for our trip to Dingle via the Cliffs of Mohr. Unfortunately, our trip got off to a bit of a rocky start when a driver pulled his mini-bus into the lot and blocked our vehicle when Liam was inside our hotel meeting us. We waited about five minutes, but the idiot driver never showed. We had everyone looking for him and finally after fifteen minutes we located him in our hotel’s restaurant having breakfast. I was actually standing there when he was found and I told him we were waiting to leave for the Cliffs of Mohr. His response? No apology. Instead he remarked that the Cliffs of Mohr would still be there. I gave him a death stare and told him that the Cliffs of Mohr may still be there, but our boat reservation for noon would not. He moved the vehicle, but never offered any of us an apology. Liam was not happy (and neither was I).
Anyway, we were finally on the road heading out of County Mayo and into County Clare. Our drive took us through many narrow country roads and along the way, Liam insisted on showing us a Faerie Castle. Accordingly to Liam, Irish folklore claims that Faeries live under larger dirt mounds that dot the Irish landscape. The Irish believe that Faieries are either fallen angels or dead children who were not baptized and could not go to heaven. Apparently Faierie circles, which are also occupied by Faieries, are circular patches of land where no plants grow, but may include Faierie trees. Faierie trees are apparently Hawthorn trees that can live up to four hundred years. Liam said that the Irish have delayed construction of motorways while contemplating what to do about Faierie trees and farmers leave Faierie trees in their fields and refuse to remove them for fear of angering the Faieries.
Anyway, about 45 minutes into our drive, we diverted down yet another narrow country road and about five minutes later we were pulling over beside a national monument under the care and protection of the National Monuments Act. Yep … a Faierie Circle was nationally protected. We got out of the vehicle, crossed the road and walked past a fence and up and over a hill to a see a large open circle with a couple trees and nothing else. Liam was adamant that we only look and that we do not not pick up anything or pick any leaves off the tree for fear of angering the Faieries. Seriously. These Irish take the Fairies and potential bad luck very seriously.
We finally bid adios to the Faieries and took an around about way to get back to the main road so Liam could take us up the hillside to see the Burren (pronounced Burn). Now we came to learn the Burren has a moon like landscape comprised of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. The Burren apparently has a very temperate climate and has one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland. In addition, the landscape supports all kinds of plants, flowers and grasses found in the Arctic, the Mediterranean and Alpine areas thanks to the presence of thick sedimentary rocks of mostly limestone but also includes sandstone, mudstone and siltstone.
As our vehicle took us up the hillside we indeed encountered weird looking moonlike rock formations and unusual landscapes. We ended up taking a walk on the Burren and did indeed see an amazing array of flowers. A truly quirky place.
We left the Burren behind and got back on the little windy throughway that would take us to Wild Atlantic Way and the little the town of Doolin where the Cliffs of Mohr are located. What are the Cliffs of Mohr you ask? Well the Cliffs of Mohr are naturally formed sea cliffs that are about 14 kilometres long and constitute one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions. You can visit the Cliffs of Mohr from above, or you can visit them by boat. We had elected to visit them by boat, which is said to be the best way to view the Cliffs of Mohr.
I had been watching the weather all week and was praying for no fog. And not only did we not have fog today, we actually had sunshine. The downside? It was WINDY. And not just a bit windy. This was full on gale force winds. I was concerned that we would not be able to go out in the boat and if we did, we would all end up puking over the side of the boat.
Anyway, once we arrived at the boat dock, the captain assured us we were going and it was completely safe. However, once boarding started (on the “Tranquility” of all things), we were all warned as we walked on that the trip was going to be VERY rough and if we did not want to go we could get our 20 euros back. Cheryl, Donnie and I were game so we boarded and chose our seats. Cheryl opted to sit outside on the upper deck (knowing she was likely to get wet, but insisting it was the only place to sit and not get sick), while Donnie and I opted for the lower level indoor seating.
The boat motored out of the harbour at noon for the one hour tour. Almost immediately, the boat began to pitch up and down and as we turned towards the cliffs, the boat began to pitch back and forth. I had my sunglasses on, my eyes shut and my head focused straight ahead. It was not more than ten minutes in before the first “retching” began. Great. I fortunately had my ear plugs with me, stuck those in my ears and continued to remain motionless with my sunglasses on staring straight ahead.
As we continued to head towards the Cliffs of Mohr, the sea became even rougher if that was possible. Liam estimated we were in 15’ to 20’ swells. At one point, the boat pitched so hard to the left, I thought we were going to end up capsized. Fortunately, the Captain was incredibly experienced and the boat pitched back to the right and then evened out as we entered a break in the massive swells.
By the time we reached the Cliffs of Mohr, the majority of people on the lower deck were sick and barely moving. Donnie and I, as well and Liam and about 7 other folks were doing just fine. The pitching of the boat made it very difficult to make our way out the back side of the boat to get a better view of the Cliffs of Mohr, but somehow Donnie and I made it back there with Liam’s help. In the mean time, Cheryl was doing just fine on the upper deck.
The Captain took us very, very close to the Cliffs and we were able to get a spectacular view of the amazing sea cliffs. After the Captain took the boat in a bit of a circle so that we could all see the Cliffs of Mohr from different viewpoints, we headed back to shore. Donnie and I decided to stay down below despite the sickies.
The hardest part at this point, was getting back to my seat. The boat was pitching so violently that I did start to feel a bit queezy as I was thrown back and forth on my way to my seat. Fortunately, I got back to my seat, put my sunglasses back on, shut my eyes and focused straight ahead. My ritual did me well and I was able to stay sickness free despite the number of people all around us who were absolutely losing it. Ironically, Donnie and I had run into the four people from the U.S. that we had met in the bar the night before and at least one of them was sick, sick sick. (I guess it did not pay to visit 7 bars prior to taking a boat trip on rocky seas.)
Anyway, by 1:05 we were back on dry land and quite proud of ourselves that we were among the few who had (1) not been sick and (2) actually saw the Cliffs of Mohr. Cheryl said that not one person sitting on the top deck got sick so it’s likely she was right that the top deck was a better alternative.
So after the fabulous visit to the Cliffs of Mohr (and a boat ride none of us will ever forget), we drove back to the little village of Lisdoonvarna where we were going to have lunch at The Roadside Tavern (established in 1865). Liam promised it would the best lunch ever and he was not far off. I had the wild mussels, Cheryl had the seafood chowder and Donnie had the tomato basil soup with fries and we all agreed the food was absolutely fantastic. And almost as good was the beer. I had the Burren Gold and Cheryl had the Burren Red and the pints were the best beer we have had to date in Ireland.
After the wonderful lunch, it was time to head to Dingle where we would be spending the next two days. However, before Dingle, Liam told us he would be taking us to some other cliffs that were perhaps more spectacular than the Cliffs of Mohr. So off we set, past the Cliffs of Mohr visitor center and the crowds of people viewing the Cliffs from above, down through the little town of Lahinch and its magnificent Lahinch Golf Course (site of the 2019 Irish Open) and back onto the windy little seaside road that makes up the Wild Atlantic Way.
By 4:00 we had reached the little town of Kilkee, the home of the Kilkee Cliffs (or as Liam prefers we call them, the “No Name Cliffs” – he doesn’t want the tourists to discover them). Anyway, as promised, the cliffs were absolutely stunning. There was not a tourist in sight and I have to say that these cliffs were perhaps more impressive than the Cliffs of Mohr. The sunshine lit up the cliffs and the wild winds made it even more impressive with massive ways crashing around the rocky shoreline below.
There were little free standing slivers of land off the cliffs that even included the ruins of a small old monetary. The mystery was how the heck anyone was able to (1) reach the top of the land mass, (2) build a stone monastery on the site and (3) survive. Liam did not have the answers, but at some point I am going to get to the bottom of it.
Anyway, as we wandered around we had a hard time staying upright in the massive gale force winds. We were all very careful not to get too close to the cliff edge for fear we would be blown right over the edge. Unfortunately, we were not careful enough and at one point, Cheryl, Donnie and I were hanging onto the edge of a cliff for dear life. Fortunately, Liam rescued us and we were able to live to see another day! (Just kidding, but the picture we took makes a great story.)
So after viewing the second set of fabulous cliffs in a day, we headed back through the little town of Kilkee and towards the Shannon Ferry. Unfortunately, we missed the 5:00 p.m. sailing and had to wait for the 5:30. Once on board, the short little ferry ride only took 20 minutes and we finally entered the county of Kerry. We then drove through a number of little villages, including Kilrush and Kilimen before reaching the farming country where we once again saw the infamous Irish sheep.
Our road took us back along the Wild Atlantic Way and then up the hillside towards Dingle. Liam decided we had time to take the An Chonair pass, which is the highest mountain pass on the Wild Atlantic Way. Once we reached the top, the view was fantastic. In one direction, we could see the Wild Atlantic Way we had just driven along and in the other the little town of Dingle. We took the requisite pictures and 20 minutes later, we were finally driving through the tiny little seaside village of Dingle.
It had been a long, lovely day and our fun in Dingle was only beginning. We ended up having a terrific fish and chip dinner, stopping at a couple pubs and meeting up with Liam for a pint and some Irish dancing. It turns out that one of the finalists on Britain’s Got Talent and five time world Irish dance champion, David Geaney, is a bar tender at the local pub (the Dingle Pub) that is owned by his parents. And tonight he was going to put on a little dance exhibition. We arrived on time and the dancing was simply fantastic. Micheal Flatley and Riverdance have nothing on this young guy. He was unbelievable.
So after the dance exhibition, we wandered back to our B&B past the many, many bars where you could hear live Irish music through the open windows. However, as much as we wanted to stop, it was time for some sleep.