We’re Exploring: Ireland….The Final Days

Cliffs of Moher

We get an early start to the next day to head to the amazing Cliffs of Moher.  The pictures just can not do it justice.  Utterly breathtaking, and if ever there was a time I wish Gary had been there with me it was now, because he loves a great view.

It was somewhat interesting that though incredibly impressive it reminded me so much of one of the 7 points on the Big Island of Hawaii that we visited last year.  (When I was in Cape Town the beach also reminded me of Kona, and later on this day when we were driving through The Burren it looked like Kona with limestone instead of lava….maybe I am just channeling one of our favorite places in the world through other destinations.)  

After  jumping a fence to get a better view, despite the sign noting how many people have died doing the exact same thing, and taking in all the awe inspiring views we could we were off to our next stop.  But before we left we promised to make it our personal mission to find a way to have the Cliffs of Moher included in the list of natural wonders in the world.  It is on the nomination list, it just needs support.  I can promise that its beauty is not something we will forget, and is a very deserving recipient if you care to vote here

I had found a cave on our map that our helpful information girl at The Cliffs said was a must do.   But first a stop along the water where huge waves were crashing into a rocky shore, yet a group of surfers were eagerly paddling out to catch the next wave. 

 

Mussels....

 Fort on the way to Doolin

On to Doolins Cave.  I have a special affinity to caves that has yet another tie to my funny grandmother.  When I was little my sister, cousin and I would be packed into my grandma’s big blue station wagon for yet another adventure driving around Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas…whereever that station wagon could take us for that particular trip.  My grandmother, Doris, was quite a character, as I have noted before.  If there was a road with a “Private Drive” or “Keep Out” sign on it that was the first road she would take.  And she loved caves….well, maybe she just loved that it would give her 30 minutes to an hour to herself.  There were a lot of caves in Arkansas, some probably not the safest, and she would pull up and say “ok little kids, go explore that cave, I am going to sit under that tree and read my book.”  Obviously that was a simpler, safer time and we would jaunt off to explore with enthusiasm. 

Doolins Cave

 

Doolins Cave took me back to these moments.  Discovered in the mid 1950’s by a group of backpackers the cave takes you down 15 flights of stairs, then meanders down through a narrow passage a few more flights.  At the base of the 15 flights of stairs we are given hard hats just in case anything is jostled or comes crashing on our heads.  About 150 yards in we stop in what appears to be a cavern.  The lights are off and we wait with anticipation for the big reveal that makes Doolins Cave so special.  1….2….3….lights up.  A 7.3 meter stalactite hanging from the top of the ceiling sparkles in the light.  Doolins is the largest stalactite discovered in a cave anywhere in the world.  Breathtaking.  

And worth every bit of the 15 story climb back up the stairs to the outside (I am so glad I had decided to work out that morning…..)

Fort outside Galway

Next stop Galway.  I had found what looked like a fantastic restaurant for us that night called “8” boasting completely farm fresh, locally sourced ingredients creating modern Irish cuisine.  And, just a short walk from our hotel.  Though it wasn’t as good as our pub the night before the wine was cold and plentiful and they had a Blue Dog print on the wall. 

Galway

Our last adventure before we get back to Dublin was a stop in the small town of Athlone.  Juleann’s mom used to sing her a song about the town of Athlone so a stop over for a sandwich and a pint was appropriate (I wasn’t driving and a Heineken hit the spot.)  Athlone was charming and is home to the oldest pub in Ireland. 

Athlone

 

The oldest pub in Ireland in Athlone

 

Overall take away from the land of shamrocks is that Ireland is an incredibly friendly country.  Though I think I like the overall feel of Scotland a bit more, the people were so friendly every place we went in Ireland.  The food may not be the best, but the Guinness certainly is, as is the butter and cheese ( for a girl who doesn’t use a lot of butter….I have become quite the Irish butter fan.)  And it is a beautiful old world country, with lots of random crumbly buildings popping up out of the blue and historical sites, with great charm and approachability.  I am not sure I will ever get back, there are so many places we want to visit, but I am thrilled that I was able to have this little adventure across the pond.

 

One last pint in Ireland

 

 

 

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