When we woke on Wednesday morning, we resigned ourselves to the fact that it was actually time to start our journey back. With flights scheduled for the following day, and to get us in a good position to make the drive back to Dublin an easy one, we decided to spend our last night in Galway. The road from Killarney to Limerick to Galway is a pretty one, and there was plenty to occupy us along the way.
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher when in Ireland is sort of like visiting the popular valley of California’s Yosemite National Park in the summertime. You know it is going to be an impressive sight… especially if you haven’t seen it before with your own eyes… but you also know that you will be sharing your visit with others… many others!
The last time I saw the Cliffs of Moher, I can remember the surrounding area being very simple. We parked the car, hopped the wall and explored the beaten path along the cliffs. Not any more… there is a parking lot about a quarter of a mile away from the cliffs, a visitor center literally built into the hillside, and plenty of places to spend your euros on Irish souvenirs. Much of what we have seen so far on our trip was quaint and seemingly natural, so forgive my cynical attitude toward how this place had changed.
But then there were the cliffs themselves… and boy were they impressive! They tower 656ft above the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and they seem to stretch for miles along the coast of County Clare. Our wonderful streak of weather continued on this day, allowing unobstructed views of the Aran Islands, some 9 miles off in the distance. At the highest part of the cliffs, O’Brien’s Tower stands tall and can be seen from miles away. Built in 1835 by local landlord Sir Cornellius O’Brien, it was designed to be used as an observation tower by Victorian tourists who visited the cliffs at the time.
Sam and I explored the high path along the coast (where you see the people standing in the first photograph in this post), and despite my fear of heights – and falling – we even hopped the fence and followed the trail higher. I hugged the side of the path furthest from the ocean, but we were never really in any danger – even though we encountered a memoriam to those who had lost their lives on the cliff path – which was placed strategically right where you climb the fence and take your life into your own hands. When you see pictures of places like this it’s easy to nod and remark about how impressive it looks… but when you see it for yourself, it can literally take your breath away. Quite stunning!