The last post left off just outside of Tralee after exploring Blarney Castle and Killarney National Park. On to the iconic Cliffs of Moher!
We started off with a buffet breakfast at Ballyseede before we checked out and headed to the Cliffs of Moher. We were sad to leave Ballyseede behind, but we were excited for what was ahead! For the sake of time, we decided to bypass Limerick and take the Kilrush Ferry from Tarbert to Killimer. Doing that reduced our travel time by about 30 minutes and our mileage by about 75 kilometers.
Travel Tip #1: Buy your ferry ticket ahead of time and get an online discount (it’s priced per vehicle, not per person.)
Travel Tip #2: If you’re using your smartphone strictly on WiFi to avoid international roaming charges, don’t be an idiot like me and forget to download the ferry ticket PDF before getting off of WiFi. $10 for 24 hours of cellular service thanks to AT&T’s International Day Pass isn’t catastrophic, but I was still annoyed with myself.
The ferry ride was about 20 minutes or so, and luckily there were bathrooms on board. We had officially left Co. Kerry and were entering Co. Clare. On the way to the Cliffs of Moher, we stopped in a small town called Quilty to fuel up our car for the first time.
Fun fact: In the US, gasoline pumps are black and diesel pumps are green; in Ireland it’s the exact opposite, so make sure you’re paying attention!
The Cliffs of Moher
By the time we got to the Cliffs of Moher it was misting rain again and SUPER windy. It reduced our visibility, but it gave the cliffs a really cool eerie vibe. We walked the northbound trail that runs about 6 feet from the cliff edge. Jeff isn’t a fan of unrestrained heights, so I was really surprised he was on board. The fog in some places was so dense that we couldn’t see over the edge to the water below. It’s like we were up in the clouds at the end of the world. It was so exhilarating! We got some great photos along the way and made it all the way to the end of the trail where there’s a fence. Then we witnessed pure stupidity.
Beyond the fence is more land (I assume privately owned,) and there’s an outcropping of rocks. It’s obvious that someone pulled back the fencing at some point, and dozens of people have climbed under it, either to get photos or just out of curiosity. These 2 women got to the fence around the same time we did, and one of them wanted to get a photo on the outcropping. For context, this woman was probably about twice my age and size. Did she crawl under the fence like countless people before her? No. She swung out around the end of this wobbly wooden fence, right at the edge of the cliff, with the wind blowing fiercely. She got her photos, and then swung back around to return. I was convinced I was about to witness this woman’s fall to her death, but luck was on her side that day. Smh.
We took the trail back to the Visitor Center as the fog started to lift a bit. On our way there, we saw a tower to the south off in the distance. It turns out it was Moher Tower, located at Hag’s Head, the most southerly point of the Cliffs of Moher. You can either take a 3 mile hike from the Visitor Center or a 5 minutes drive. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for either, so that will have to be for next time. We got ourselves a cup of hot tea to warm up, and then we hit the road to continue our journey to Clifden.
We stopped for dinner at a pub along the way and arrived in Clifden via Galway around 8pm. Our next hotel was Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, located right near the town center, and it was beautiful! They also have a resident parrot. 🙂
It was at this point that we realized we were enjoying the driving so much that we wanted to cancel our flight from Dublin to Donegal and just drive. (We would also save ourselves from wasting time in the airport and having to pay Aer Lingus’ baggage fees.) We emailed our travel agent and she said the flight wasn’t refundable. (We left it alone for now, but that didn’t end up being the end of it.) Anyway, hot showers and a cozy bed had us asleep in no time.
We slept in a bit and then caught the tail end of the buffet breakfast. We talked about checking out the nearby Connemara National Park, but it would be a full-day affair if we wanted to do it right, and we were already planning to head to Kylemore Abbey. Next time, Connemara!
Travel Tip: This is another attraction where you can save money (10%) by buying your tickets online in advance. They’re non-refundable, but they’re valid for 6 months from the date of purchase.
Construction of Kylemore Castle began in 1867 as a private home for Mitchell Henry and his family. In 1874, the family traveled to Egypt, where his wife Margaret developed a fever and died. Mitchell arranged to have her body brought home and built a “cathedral in miniature” in her honor. A nearby mausoleum now holds both of their remains.
In 1903 the property was sold to the Duke & Duchess of Manchester, who later sold it to the Irish Benedictine Nuns in 1920. It later became a Catholic girls’ school, until it had to close its doors in 2010.
There are also some lovely nature trails and some beautiful walled Victorian gardens that have been restored over the years. We spent a few hours wandering around; the whole thing is definitely worth checking out!
Night on the Town
Clifden is an adorable little town in the Connemara region of Co. Galway with a population of about 2,600. The town center was within walking distance of our hotel. Jeff bought me some beautiful silver earrings at O’Dalaigh Jewellers, and then we got dinner at Mannion’s Bar and a drink at Lowry’s Bar just down the road. Lowry’s was great because we got to chat with some locals and just have the traditional pub experience. Jeff had a hard time choosing from their selection of 150 different whiskeys!
After a long day of walking around, we were ready to hit the hay because the next day we would be driving all the way across the country back to the Dublin area.
Coming Up Next: Dublin–our one day in a big city!
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