July 10, 2016 - Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Galway
Up and at 'em early this morning as we had to eat our irish breakfasts, repack and get to our first stop by 9am. We knew it would be crowded and we wanted to get there before the tour buses because you gotta have space to take in the view that is the Cliffs of Moher. I had waited a long time to see this and it lived up to the hype x1000. It's hard to explain how amazing they are until you see them in person. It's also hard to capture it in photos but I sure as heck did try.
We were some of the first people there thankfully. It was a dreary day with a misty rain. We were able to walk all over the two cliffsides, up to the tower as well as to part of the cliff walk that isn't monitored by the national site and therefore a walk/climb at your own risk. We opted to stay behind the barriers not to far from the cliff edge but also not too close that we could fall off! Back in the day there were no barriers at all as the irish believed in natural selection. If you were dumb enough to get that close to the edge then... you sealed your own fate. There's also an island/cliff block that's covered in puffins. Unfortunately the fog and misty rain prevented us from seeing that really well but we did find a puffin statue inside. We enjoyed walking around up there and had we had more time probably would have done more of the cliff walk. We made it back down to the museum just as the rain was starting to pour [precursor to how the weather would be all day]. We shopped a little in the gift store and then it was time to make the dash for the car and head on to our next spot- The Burren.
The road to the Burren was filled with castle mansions and other goodies as we trekked a little bit farther in land. We also got stuck behind a herd of cows who were lost and couldn't find their way back to their field. We were behind them for awhile until a car was coming the other way down the road and that forced them to turn around and head back. They kept trying to go into the fields but they were all blocked by gates. We felt bad for them but weren't sure what to do so we kept slowly driving forward until we were finally able to pass them.
Next we passed by Leamanah Castle- said to be an old mansion abandoned long ago but still in decent shape. We paused the car and got out and walked around (even climbed inside for a bit). We weren't the only ones stopped for photos as per usual when it came to ancient relics just popping up on the side of the road. Then we passed by another fort before finally getting into the Burren.
The Burren is this really neat landscape full of rocks (tectonic limestone plates) but still really green at the same time. I had never seen anything like it before so it was fascinating to watch it start to appear and then get to walk around in sections where it was super rocky. We got to see and walk by the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. It is from the Neolithic period (probably between 4200 BC and 2900 BC) which is crazy to think that it has been there so long and so well preserved. Of course by the time we got there the rain was really coming down at that point but hey we were in Ireland, where it rains, and we had stuff to see! I ended up getting very soaked but it was worth it in the end.
We continued on through The Burren, only stopping a few more times for photos because of the wind and rain. But the landscape was just mesmerizing. Of all of our days so far this one had the most magical of views. Very otherworldly.
We headed to Aillwee Cave next. It is within the mountain in the Burren. And said to be one of the last bear dens in the country. A huge cave system was discovered with underground waterfalls, and full of giant stalagmites and stalactites. We were able to tour a fraction of the cave and it was really neat (and nice to be out of the rain for a bit). We also got to stop by their cheese shop for free samples (why a cheese shop? no idea) AND I got some yummy fudge.
And then it was on to Galway. We passed by the spooky looking Dunguaire Castle and I hopped out for a few photos but then we were on our way. We got into Galway right in the middle of a Gaelic football match with their rivals- Rosscommon. The stadium was right down the street from our B&B! We got to see the last few moments of the game (ended in a tie- BOO) before heading out in the crowds to walk to Downtown.
Our B&B, St. Kiernan's was located in Salt Hill, a little beach suburb of Galway and about a 15 minute walk to downtown. Of course as soon as we started our walk it started to rain more. Womp womp. But we did eventually get downtown and were able into the Claddagh museum just before they closed. One of the things I really wanted to purchased was a Claddagh ring. I love Irish culture and both Jon and I have Irish roots so it seemed like a no brainer to me to have one of these rings. The museum is the authentic seller of the rings so I wanted to make sure to get a real one if I was going to have one.
We spent a little more time wandering around for dinner before deciding on a little pie shop, The Pie Maker. It was ranked high on yelp but they had very little seating so it was first come first serve. We were lucky enough to get there just as a couple was leaving! Success. We each ordered a savory meat pie that came with mashed potatoes and cabbage. SO GOOD. Thanks yelp. They also had a new craft beer that we hadn't tried yet so we each had one of those and then finished off our meal with a slice of Banofee Pie. All of it was magnificent. We ended our evening at Dail Bar, drinking up the Guinness and watching more soccer.
Another good day in Ireland!