I took myself off to the west of the country to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. I did a most unLeelike thing and went by tourist bus!! It was relatively cheap and easier in the unpredictable autumn weather.
Its a photo of a photo but you get the idea of the Cliffs of Moher's impressive height
A stop along the way at Poulnabrone cromelech - most impressive, on the stark and windy boglands.
Moi at Poulnabron cromelech
What is Poulnabron
Rural Ireland is about green farmlands and animals
When we stopped at Doolin, a delightful, typically Irish village, I was hooked and decided to stay overnight. I asked the bus driver if I could join up with the tour again the next day, for the return journey. Of course, me being so lovely, he agreed it would be no problem at all ;p And then I met the most charming people at the Aillee River Hostel where I stayed and extended my visit for another 2 nights! Freedom!! It's so sweet! John offered to be my personal tour guide and instead of having to take the bus to the cliffs, he took me on a winding route, through lovely countryside, stopping for whatever photo opportunity I requested, and there were many!! I have taken over 1200 photos since I have been in Europe!!
Castle of Co Clare
Guess the wind blows a lot here!
Home for 3 days
Jack the gatekeeper of Doolin
John, most gracious, humurous personal tour guide
Now what do you think this sign means
One of 5 local pubs
Our cosy backpackers
Penny walls - thus called as the folk who built them during the famine years were paid a penny a day - times were hard
My mates from Aillee River Backpackers
Cottage on the way to Tulla
Not much allowed here in Ballycuggeran beach!!
I enjoyed 2 awesome evenings in vibey Irish pubs, the one night with a fantastic group of musos (2 were visitors just jamming with the locals). The pub was packed to the ceiling, the Guiness was flowing, the singing was enthusiastic and at last I felt that I had experienced the Ireland I loved. I could leave with a happy heart, getting a lift back to Dublin with John which included a meander through more of the countryside, through places with such names as Lisdoonvarna, Killaloo, Sallygap, Shankill, Enniskerry and Bray. I believe there is also Trim, Cocktown and Muff, but we didn't go there!!
One of my Irish pub nights
We did stop in at Liscannor, to see the sacred well of St Brigid. I was astounded – there is a small cavelike structure where the walls are completely adorned with with a multitude of offerings for lost or ill loved ones. Quite amazing and emotive. You can read more about it here - www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/stbrigid/St_brigids_well.html
Also had afternoon tea in Ennistymon, with scones, jam and cream, looking out over the stunning river and gentle falls. The An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) Memorial was erected to the memory of the victims of the great potato crop failures of 1845 to 1851. The monument depicts an account found in Book 4 of the archived papers of the Workhouse preserved in the local library. The account centered on a note that was pinned to the torn shirt of a barefoot orphan boy who was left at the workhouse door on the freezing cold morning of February 25, 1848. The note read:
There is a little boy named Michael Rice of Lahinch aged about 4 years. He is an orphan, his father having died last year and his mother has expired on last Wednesday night, who is now about being buried without a coffin!! Unless ye make some provision for such. The child in question is now at the Workhouse Gate expecting to be admitted, if not it will starve.
One side of the memorial depicts a child standing before the workhouse door, while across from that is the head of an anguished mother and two hands clenched in frustration or anger above the sorrowful text of the pleading note. If you are fortunate enough to visit the memorial, breathe a prayer for the unnamed souls it commemorates. A sad time that has much influenced this indomitable nation. Now that potatoes are in great supply, you can get a meal served with at least 3, if not more, different offerings of the staple vegetable!
And so it´s on to Killaloe and the majestic Shannon River, where we stop for a warming bowl of soup before heading back to Dublin. An evening spent around a cosy fire, singing songs accompanied by John's guitar playing and enjoying a delish home-cooked meal. Aaaaah, this is my Ireland!!! Thanks John - a most gracious and kind friend indeed!