After almost a month in County Cork and County Kerry we made our way north up the west coast of Ireland. Our farm stay near the town of Lahinch is close to the Cliffs of Moher and the town of Doolin. We had one week here hoping there would be a day with decent enough weather to hike along the top of the cliffs.
Our week did not get off to a good start, it rained steadily for 2 1/2 days after we arrived. Roads were flooding everywhere and it was impossible to do anything other than drive into Lahinch and find the gym. At one point we even discussed cancelling the rest of our plans for Ireland and head back to Europe to escape the rain, we have had sooooo much rain the past month!! After much consideration we decided to stick it out and deal with the weather. I doubt we will come back so we may as well make the best of it for the duration. Don’t get me wrong, Ireland is gorgeous, but the wet weather really puts a damper on our mood (pun intended 😂) Despite all the rain we got out during the few sunny spells and saw the sights we had hoped to see.
THE CLIFFS OF MOHER (Aillte an Mhothair) tower over the the rugged West Clare coast. They are one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations attracting more than 1.5 million visitors a year, and pretty much the reason we are staying nearby. The day after the rain stopped we took a chance a drove to the Liscannor Walk parking lot at the southern end of the cliffs. The parking lot is on private property and costs 5 Euros (USD $5.50) for the day. We arrived at 9:30 am and the parking lot was already half full so you need to arrive early if you want a spot. From the parking lot it’s a 1 km walk to the Moher Tower situated at Hag’s Head, the southern end of the cliffs. Moher Tower is the stone ruin of an old Napoleonic-era watchtower, many of which were built along the coastline to keep an eye out for approaching ships. The towers were built within sight of each other so that if a threat of invasion was seen a fire would be lit and each subsequent tower up and down the coast would light a warning fire. The most southerly point of the cliffs is named Hag’s Head because the cliffs have an unusual rock formation that resembles a woman’s head looking out to sea.
From Hag’s Head we began our trek north along the top of the cliffs soaking up the ever changing views. It was pretty fantastic!!! We ended up walking 3.5 km, almost to the visitor center at roughly at the midpoint of the cliffs. It got noticeably busier the closer we got to the visitor center with busloads of people starting their walk there so we decided it was a good time to turn around. All in all we walked 10 km today, that is the farthest I have walked since I got sick from covid over a year ago 💪 We had every kind of weather thrown at us during our walk and almost turned around at one point during a heavy rainstorm. My new raincoat did it’s job so we decided to wait it out beside some rocks and eventually the rain eased up so we continued walking. Towards the end of our walk the sun came out and we had some blue sky, so you are going to think we had perfect weather 😂 Thinking this would be our one and only time walking the cliffs, I took over 140 photographs making it difficult to pick just a few to share, but here they are!
BUNRATTY CASTLE (Caisleán Bhun Raithe) is a 15th century tower house not far from Limerick, and just under an hour from our Airbnb. Where the castle stands now began as a Viking trading camp in 970 with the present structure being the fourth castle to be built on this site. Over the years the castle was attacked and captured many times eventually falling into disrepair after being abandoned in 1700. By the mid 20th century it was in ruins and in danger of being demolished for stone. Sold in 1953 to Viscount Gort he began a major restoration of the castle, with the help of the Irish government, opening it to the public in 1960. The castle is filled with an impressive collection of late medieval and early Renaissance furniture and artworks and is well known these days for hosting Medieval Banquets.
On the castle grounds is Bunratty Folk Park featuring over 30 buildings creating a village and a rural setting. Farmhouses, village shops and streets are re-created and furnished as they would have appeared in the early 19th century. Some of the buildings were slated for destruction but fortunately were relocated to the park instead. Lucky for us MacNamara’s pub was open to pop in for coffee (or a Guinness for one of us) and a scone during a brief rain shower. Many of the building replicas burn peat blocks so you get a good idea of how smoky and stinky the houses would have been. Tickets for the castle and grounds cost 11.50 Euros (USD $12.65) each.
POULNABRONE DOLMEN (Poll na Brón) is an unusually large portal tomb located in a karst limestone plateau known as the Burren in County Clare. Situated on one of the most desolate and highest points of the region, it comprises three standing portal stones supporting a heavy horizontal capstone. It dates to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. When the site was excavated 33 individual human remains were found buried underneath it. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the tomb was used as a burial site between 3800 and 3200 BC.
DOOLIN (Dúlainn) is a small town at the north end of the Cliffs of Moher. From the Doolin Pier you can take a ferry over to the Aran Islands as well as a cruise along the base of the cliffs. We waited patiently for some decent weather and on our last day the forecast was for a sunny afternoon, so off we went. The cruise cost 26 Euros (USD $28.60) each for a 50 minute trip and it was well worth it. We had calm seas, sunny skies and fabulous views of the cliffs. It was nice to see them from the water as well as up close during our walk giving us different perspectives and stunning vistas.
LAHINCH (An Leacht) was the closest town to our farmhouse and is one of the foremost surfing locations in Ireland. There are at least 3 surf schools along the beach and each time we were in town there were quite a few people learning to surf. The Lahinch leisure center gym overlooks the beach so we had great views while working out. When the tide is out, the beach is wide and great for walking while enjoying an ice cream from Spooneys 🍦
DOONAGORE CASTLE is a 16th century round tower house situated on a hill overlooking Doolin Point. When it was built it’s primary purpose as as a navigational aid for boats arriving at the Doolin Pier. The castle has traded hands several times over the past 500 years, it’s now privately owned since the 1970’s so we could not go inside, but the views overlooking the Aran Islands and the Atlantic are gorgeous.
We did not get out as much as we had hoped this week due to the wet weather which seems to be lingering over Ireland. We had rain every day except four afternoons when the sun appeared for a short while. Ireland is glorious when the sun does shine!! Next on our itinerary is the small town of Cornamona, yep in the middle of nowhere again but central to a few places we want to visit. Crossing our 🤞🤞 for a little bit of ☀️☀️…..
An té a bhíónn siúlach, bíonn scéalach
He who travels has stories to tell