If you missed it, here is Part One.
Day Three – Cliffs of Moher and Galway
Driving from Killarney to Galway, via the Cliffs of Moher, used to seem like a long drive to me. Come to think of it, every drive or bus ride I have taken in an unfamiliar area always seems to have that sense of overwhelming duration. It’s never just round the corner. You know, like in Love Actually, where it actually is just round the corner.
Every way marker on this route has a homely feeling for me now – an exciting concept. Stopping in Adare to marvel at the thatched houses and lament at the one that burned down is a favourite stop. It is a gorgeous wee village with a lovely visitor’s centre and a five star hotel I can only image seeing in person. Although I understand that Adare Manor is undergoing 18 months of refurbishment. If it was reputedly amazing before, come back to me in a year and a half.
I think I’m getting to whimsical here and not telling you about the journey. So we were off from there to make a bee line for the Cliffs of Moher.
Hands down, this was the most terrifying visit I have ever made. As we pulled in the staff mentioned that they told the tour company they would be closing. They cannot technically close the Cliffs but they are morally obliged to tell you when it is dangerous. And dangerous it was. The winds were so fierce I needed to anchor myself to Tiernan. It was an absolutely terrifying hour and a half we spent walking along that precipice.
The wind was whipping up the ocean, causing it to spray hundreds of metres into the air and over the barriers. Need I say terrifying again. Tiernan loved it.
Loving things is one of the things that makes Tiernan a great guide (in my humble opinion). The Burren walkabout is one of his favourite parts. I think this is partly because he knows I hate how he takes groups to the edge of the mini-cliffs (a slightly more survivable drop into the ocean). It could also be because he likes showing people how to negotiate the difficult climb up onto the barren limestone rocks.
Your average Paddywagon will fit a lot more stops into this day. Three was enough for us and that was probably the right decision in winter when there is less light. Arriving in Galway mid afternoon we were able to stroll from the B&B in to town and have a look around the shops before it got dark.
Guinness O’Clock arrived right on schedule and this was actually the first time all of us had a pint or a half of the black stuff before us.
Day Four – Donegal
Donegal seems to be the furthest away of anywhere in Ireland. This is where the highways end and the main routes in and out are one lane for either direction. Basically it was always going to be a couple of big driving days.
Day Four we left Galway at a decent sort of time. I want to say half eight, but do not really remember. We made our first stop slightly out of our way at Cong. Another pretty town with a famous hotel (Ashford Castle).
This recently erected statue of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara as Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher was adorned with flowers after the actress’s recent passing.
Cong Abbey as it is now was built in the 13th Century, but it had been a place of religious significance long before that. Like so many abbeys, this one was suppressed and ultimately fell to ruin after the reign of Henry VIII. I particularly love the beautiful celtic crosses and intricate details found throughout the site.
One can also stand in two counties here. Like at a US state line. So Dad did it. Naturally.
From Cong we drove to Donegal town. Now, if you are going to Donegal town, go near a meal time and visit Toni’s Bistro. A menu more comprehensive than anything else I’ve seen in Ireland. Sandwiches (toasted or not), Curry, Fish and Chips, healthier options I didn’t touch and such an extensive list of breakfasty things that they will still allow you to order at noon!
I am one of those people who takes photos of their food so it lasts longer.
We were finally rained on in Donegal town. That sent us running for the bus! And after being briefly stopped to allow a funeral procession to pass we attempted to visit the cliffs at Slieve League (and compare them to the Cliffs of Moher). Unfortunately, it was far, too windy to approach them. These cliffs do not have barriers quite as high and thick as the Cliffs of Moher and it just wasn’t worth the risk.
Seemed a good idea to cut our losses and head for the haven of Teac Campbell. This B&B was my little home from home while driving the Wild Atlantic Way in June. I love its homely atmosphere and couldn’t wait to take everyone there. Here’s to hoping I get to stay there again, walk those beaches, and have another amazing home cooked breakfast ordered off a menu written in Irish!
This was only meant to be a two parter, but I have too many photos. So we’ll revisit this next week. Yeah, I know, I’m dragging this trip out. But I have nothing new until March and I still want to talk to you 🙂