Touring Tuesdays: The Cliffs of Moher by James Shields

Welcome to a new feature in which we hope to showcase just a few of the many wonderful things to see in Ireland! Each week we will be providing you with more reasons to extend your stay around Dublin2019 as Ireland is full of natural beauty and history. Please enjoy our first feature by James Shields about a wonderful day out with friends at the Cliffs of Moher. Photos are all by James as well!

James Shields

     My friend and fellow bid supporter, Alissa McKersie wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher during her stay in Ireland, so it seemed a great opportunity for a trip to the west of Ireland. The cliffs run for 8 km (5 miles) along the coast of county Clare, and reach a height of 214 metres (700 feet). It also features in movies such as The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince. But you can find all that on Wikipedia.
     We set out from Drogheda at about 8:30, myself, Fionna and our dog, Leia. In the distant past, it would have meant five or six hours driving, but thankfully Ireland now has a motorway network, and we were able to cover the 300 km (190 miles) to Ennis in under 3 hours, treated to picturesque views of the sunrise across beautiful landscapes. We lost count of how many castles we passed along the way, including the amazing Bunratty castle and folk park that will be the subject of a future post.
     In Ennis, we meet our friends Alissa and Tomas at the Old Ground hotel they had been staying in, set in a beautiful old house in the centre of the town.
     We set out for the Cliffs of Moher, another half hour drive through amazing countryside, especially once we joined the wild Atlantic way. Once we reached the cliffs, we were directed into the car park, which is spacious and well organised.
     Fionna and Leia the dog weren’t keen on heights, so they walked around the grounds (and got asked to pose for pictures by Japanese tourists) while the rest of us headed into the visitor centre (which doesn’t allow dogs). The centre is sensitively built into the rock face and is almost invisible unless you’re directly in front of it. It gives a lot of information about the cliffs, and their geology and natural heritage.
     But enough of that. We then headed along the cliff walk, heading south. It was the perfect day for it, with little cloud and hardly any wind, and just a little mist along the cliffs to the south, casting them in an eerie light against the low winter sun. The waves crashing against the base of the cliffs left no doubt of the power of the ocean, while to the north, O’Brien’s tower crowned the cliff. We made our way along a couple of headlands, going as close to the edge as we dared, and getting some fantastic photos.
     The clear day also gave us a wonderful view of Inisheen, the closest and smallest of the Aran islands, about 15 km (10 miles) of the coast.
     We then headed back towards the visitor centre. We could have gone to the tower, but we were getting hungry, and didn’t want to abandon Fionna and Leia for too long.
     We set off in the car, stopping in Lahinch, thinking we might walk along the beach there. However there were far too many people there enjoying the holiday, so we set off again and stopped at a little sunny beach near Spanish point, where we enjoyed a stunning sunset.
     We were now starving, so we stopped at the Armada hotel and went into Johnny Burke’s bar, where they served excellent fish and chips.
     It was now getting late, and Alissa and Tomas were heading to Cork, so we drove to Limerick and dropped them at the train before setting off back to Drogheda.