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Obrien Wine Club Tour of Ireland; Day 5

Cliffs of Moher Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Cliffs of Moher
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

We had an earlier than usual departure this day, and had to have our luggage on the bus before breakfast, so I didn’t walk the town. This was a much-anticipated day for me. In my pre-trip research, the two destinations that had the most “pull” for me were Kylemore Abbey (as the images and narrative demonstrated, I didn’t do it justice, and would love to re-visit some day during early or late light, with time and a tripod); and The Cliffs of Moher, our first stop destination for the morning. So, we bid farewell to Galway where we had enjoyed three fun nights, and headed for our next destination.

Cliffs of Moher Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Cliffs of Moher
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

The Cliffs of Moher are located in County Clare, in an area known as The Burren. I was immediately tempted to try to compare this with the word, “barren” (actually of French origin), the we often use in our language. Burren actually means big rock, or rocky expanse. Either way, the Burren seems to have a lot of “barren” landscape. But it is also dotted with green, and of course, borders some spectacular seacoast. One of Ireland’s more famous golf courses – LaHinch – plays through the Burren, and we drove through it on our way to the Cliffs.

Cliffs of Moher Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Cliffs of Moher
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

The Cliffs of Moher are on the Western Atlantic Coast of Ireland, and at their highest point, rise more than 700 feet about the sea level. The drop is spectacular—and lethal. We noticed a Coast Guard ship patrolling far below, as we stood on the cliffs. Our driver told us that it is a relatively common way for citizens of Ireland (particularly older ones) to commit suicide, and apparently the rangers at the national site and the Coast Guard maintain a constant vigil for “jumpers.”

Cliffs of Moher Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Cliffs of Moher
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

This site is the single most visited by tourists in all of Ireland. It was named after Fort Moher, which once stood at the Southern-most part of the cliffs (Hag’s Head). Today, near the visitor center (which is completely underground and – impressively, does not disturb the landscape) the only structure is O’Brien’s Tower, which was reputedly built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien to impress his girlfriend(s). It was fitting, for an O’Brien tour, but was, unfortunately, closed the day we visited. You can walk along a path for a long distance both North and South of the visitor center. Inexplicably, our tour company allotted only a little over an hour for this entire site! Again, not my trip and not my call, but it was an area I could easily have spent ½ a day at. It was cool, cloudy and windy the day we were there, but relatively dry and clear of fog. I am told it could have just as easily been a wall of rain and fog – so perhaps it is difficult to plan for something like this with a large group. We were fortunate to be able to capture some nice images – notwithstanding the grey skies.

LaHinch Golf Links Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

LaHinch Golf Links
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

While we saw neither, apparently it is common 2 see two species of “wildlife” here: Atlantic Puffins, and Surfers. If you travel to Ireland, it is definitely a “must-see” destination, and – weather permitting – and if you have the leeway, allot a full half day to this site.

View from Church in Killaloe Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

View from Church in Killaloe
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

The balance of our day was devoted to visiting the main “hometown” of Brian Boru'” — Killaloe.  Here he lived for the longest period as High King of Ireland.  Killaloe was strategic, as a crossing of the River Shannon, above Limerick, where the Vikings were in control.  The palace no longer stands.  In Ballina, we had a short boat ride on the River Shannon (it was cool and rainy, but again, I would have liked to have gone further and longer on the boat).  We then crossed the river and visited the St. Patrick Church, where we had the great opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower for a view of the town, and a demonstration of the bell ringing by the church’s organist.  The River Shannon divides County Tipperary and County Clare, and the towns of Ballina and Killaloe are separated by a 13 arch bridge across the River.

Bridge between Ballina and Killaloe; from Ballina; Church in the Background Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Bridge between Ballina and Killaloe; from Ballina; Church in the Background
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

After what seemed like an unending day of riding on the bus, with too short stops, we finally headed four our next 2 night destination; the Strand Hotel in Limerick. Limerick turned out to be a nice town to walk around in.  We found a nice pub the first night where I had one of many Smithwicks and finally found some traditional Irish Lamb Stew.

The Strand Hotel Limerick, Ireland Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

The Strand Hotel
Limerick, Ireland
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

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