After two fabulous nights at Orla’s lodge in Galway we were on our way south to discover the delights of County Clare and visit the world famous Cliffs of Moher. Taking in a few other places on the way of course.
Kinvarra and Castle Dungaire
So heading south west through Kilcolgan towards our first stop at Kinvarra and the roads were clear and the sun was shining, was this still Ireland? Beautiful twisty turny roads and so many frozen-in-time villages along the way before we stopped to explore the picturesque 16th century Dungaire Castle in Kinvarra. It sits on the shore of Galway Bay and although not open to the public we were able to walk up and explore the grounds and the waters edge.
Another stop in lovely Kinvarra for a long walk around the harbour which bizarrely used to be one of the worlds biggest seaweed exporting centres until the Great Famine hit the country in the 1840s. Another brief stop on the edge of The Burren National Park for a few silly photos and we crossed the border from County Galway into County Clare on our way to the Cliffs of Moher.
This is one of those counties that everybody has heard of but isn’t quite sure where it is. We were no different until we studied the map on the way out of Galway. At this stage I have to mention that we NEVER have SatNavs in a hire car and NEVER use GPS on our phones whenever we travel as we much prefer to rely on good old fashioned maps. We feel that we get a much better idea of where we are and what our surroundings are like when we have to use maps and not just rely on ‘next left, then right, etc’. (rant over, sorry).
The Cliffs of Moher
The huge car park and crowds of people confirmed what we had read, that the Cliffs are Irelands second most visited tourist attraction with nearly one and a half million visitors a year. Were they all here today? It seemed absolutely rammed as we headed up to the visitor centre. But as if by magic the heavens suddenly opened and torrential rain heaved down sending the crowds running for cover and within minutes when the rain stopped the millions of selfie-taking tourists had vanished. Unbelievably for the next 2 hours most of them stayed in the restaurant and shop so the cliffs were much much quieter.
The cliffs stretch for over 7 kilometres from the Hags Head in the south up to O’Briens Tower by the visitor centre in the north and range from 390 to 700 feet high. Reaching out into the wild Atlantic Ocean they have a really dramatic look and must be incredible to see in stormy weather or mid-winter. Thankfully it wasn’t stormy or wintery as we ventured along the top of the cliffs in either direction.
Incredible views, spectacular scenery and increasingly good weather made it a real day to remember. One thing that did slightly worry and irritate us was the number of people ignoring the safety wall along the cliff tops and crossing over to walk, run, and pose right on the edge. Unbelievably stupid as countless lives are apparently lost every year up there and the wind is always gusting. Idiots.
As we returned to the car via the visitor centre we did overhear a coach party of Americans saying that after looking around the gift shop and having some lunch they really didn’t have time to walk the 100 yards to see the cliffs so were on their way back to the bus. Brilliant.
As far as we were concerned the trip was all about the views and actually getting to the top of the cliffs. Everything else is all just to help you do that. The trip was really worth doing and we would urge anyone visiting Ireland to try and get down to experience it for themselves (the Cliffs not the gift shop).
The drive down towards Limerick was easy and interesting with quaint villages and beaches to see along the way. Our last stop was in the village of Bunratty to have a wander around the 15th century castle village. We were a little late so just like the Americans at Moher decided not to go in and just had a coffee and a bun. I know, bit pathetic but we sort of wanted to push on to Limerick and find our accommodation for the night.
Coonagh Lodge in Limerick
A comfy night in the out-of-the-way Coonagh Lodge south of Limerick was just what was required after a busy day crossing three counties and visiting Moher. We were quite happy in the lodge but we did overhear the landlady ordering some Asian visitors to go to the cashpoint immediately as she didn’t take credit cards. Very harsh and not at all customer-focused but we made sure we had cash ready next morning just in case.
08/09 – 09/09/2017