I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center. -Kurt Vonnegut-
The next part of our visit required us to pack up and hit the road. My sister and niece had been to see the Cliffs of Moher on a previous visit to Ireland and said it was a very cool thing to see. I wanted to see for myself. Seeing for ourselves required a drive of five or six hours -without stops- and stops were planned. We got a very early start. I petted Sammy goodbye (he was slightly too large for the carry-on bag) and bid a fond farewell to Yvonne’s cousins -Bernie and Eddie (the kids had already returned to Australia earlier in the week) and we were off.
Our first stop was at Blarney & Blarney Castle. It wasn’t really that far from Yvonne’s and was on the way to the cliffs, so why not stop to kiss the Blarney Stone? We pulled in just around the corner from the castle first to see the biggest Irish gift shop in Ireland. It was HUGE! If you can’t find something to buy in there there’s something wrong with you. Um…we couldn’t find anything to buy! It was a bit overwhelming for me. I didn’t feel like we had time to linger and see it all (in other words…days!). I saw plenty of it though – and there was something for everyone.
Yvonne said she’d nap in the car while we went to see the castle. We bought tickets and scurried in. It was a short walk through the grounds to get to the building itself. I’m not sure why, but the trees along this part of the entrance had “leg warmers” on them. It was quite cheerful. Seeing as how the weather hadn’t been all that great so far – I wouldn’t have minded a pair of leg warmers myself!
We ran into a bit of a setback upon arriving at the actual door to the castle. There was a line. Now – all my life hearing about the Blarney Stone and seeing some pictures of it, I had always just assumed it was on the grounds somewhere. Just before getting to the castle, I found out that, no, it’s not on the ground -it’s at the very top of the castle. So we’re just getting to the entry door and there’s a line… GULP! The entry hall was very small and Mike handled about 5 minutes of that and ditched me to carry on alone in the quest to kiss the Blarney Stone. I was in the line for about 5 more minutes before I made it into a bit of a “hall” where the stairs started.
…I stood there for awhile and realized we just didn’t have all day for this. I didn’t care if I kissed it, but I would have liked a picture. There was no way to get up there except in the line -and there was no way that was going to happen today. So, I gave up and went outside to find Mike. He’d found the side of the castle with a view of the stone wayyyyy up there. That’s as close as we got.
As Yvonne later said (paraphrased), “You didn’t get to kiss it, but you blew it a kiss -that’s just as good!” So -that’s our story: We blew a kiss to the Blarney Stone.
By this time we were able to access some expressways – they do have them in Ireland! Even so, it was a long drive to get where we were going. Bunratty Castle was our lunch stop. We were looking for a place to eat lunch and as we pulled into the castle entrance I noticed a place called “Durty Nellie’s” and asked Yvonne if that was a “restaurant chain”? Nope she said. Two of my nieces and a nephew had just been in Ireland a week before us and they’d posted a picture of that place saying the food was awful. I didn’t know it was at Bunratty, but I quickly put 2 + 2 together. So, we didn’t eat there. We ate across the street at what was probably the second largest Irish souvenir shop (owned by the same company as the one at Blarney) and hit the road again. Bunratty Castle looked interesting -but it really wasn’t on the schedule for today. We still had hours of driving to get to our destination for the day.
Finally, at about 4:00 (after leaving Yvonne’s at 9:30 that morning) we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher -and coincidentally so did a crappy little storm.
We donned our rain gear in the parking lot and headed for the cliffs. (It was a short walk) Once you get there, you can walk along some paths in both directions. The cliffs are 702 feet high and stretch along the coast for about 5 miles. The Cliffs of Moher were filmed as “The Cliffs of Insanity” for the movie The Princess Bride.
There is also an observation tower built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien for the tourists.
Oh yeah – it was a pretty amazing view through the rain and haze too. We saw a woman pushing an empty stroller and based on the weather we could only assume the poor baby had been blown away and she was looking for it! The brochure for the Cliffs describes the wildlife in the area -but I’m convinced the wildlife checked the weather channel that day and called in sick. Just as we were returning to the car and getting the rain gear off and getting ready to leave – it actually cleared up a bit. If it had been a nice day -and if we’d arrived in time- the plan was to take a sightseeing boat to see the cliffs from the water, which would have been amazing. Next visit for sure!
Just beyond the cliffs down the road to the North is a village called Doolin. Yvonne wanted to take a drive and look around and we were OK with that. I knew my nieces/nephew had been there, so it was fun to go too. It was a very small, but cute, “dip in the road” (as Yvonne described it later).
We took a few pictures and headed back the way we came. I suggested a road that I saw on the map that was a bit of a shortcut and it passed by this old tower/castle. No signs…so no idea what the story is about it. It looked pretty cool though.
Our hotel was further South of the cliffs in an area called Spanish Point. It was named that because in 1588 many ships from the Spanish Armada were shipwrecked there. Unfortunately for the sailors who did make it to shore, they were captured and executed. Our hotel was called the Armada.
There wasn’t much else there so we were lucky that the hotel had a nice restaurant. I saw ribs on the menu and debated about whether or not Ireland does ribs the way we do ribs…but decided to go for it. What arrived was a bit odd looking to me -but actually the flavor was good and I didn’t go hungry. Mike had chowder and a BLT.
Mike had a beer that was brewed in Doolin and was only available at a hotel there and our hotel. For the first time all week, Yvonne didn’t need to drive us home after dinner so she was finally able to join us in having a beer (or 2) and we sat and talked until quite late. A really nice evening.
The next day was a travel day. Yvonne drove us to Dublin -another long day of driving from the West Coast of Ireland to the East Coast of Ireland through the middle. We’d decided to stay at a hotel near the airport and it turned out she’d stayed there once before when catching an early flight -so she knew where it was. She had planned to stop at Ikea, but we got over there so late that she decided she didn’t have time. I felt bad -it was so much driving for her and she didn’t get to do what might have made the drive somewhat worthwhile for her. We had planned to go into Dublin for awhile if we felt like we had the time -but we decided it was already a bit late in the day and holed up in our hotel and decompressed a bit. We had a relaxing evening.