My first weekend in Ireland I was able to do some traveling which took me to the Dunguaire Castle, Galway Bay, the Baby Cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher, Poulnabrone (a Portal Tomb), and Cahermore (the Big Stone Fort), and Galway. That morning we through the countryside with a gorgeous sunrise and sheep dotting the hills.
Our first real stop for the day was at Dunguaire Castle which was situated on a small hill just outside of the small town of Kinvara, overlooking the southeast shore of Galway Bay. We had a few minutes to explore the outskirts of the castle grounds and take in the frosty morning view looking out upon the bay before we hopped back onto the bus and headed for our next stop.
After a lovely drive along the coast, we made our way down through Burren in the County Clare where we made a stop at the Baby Cliffs near Lisdoonvarna-Oughtdarra where the exposed limestone rock looked just as rugged and barren as it was beautiful. This was one of my favorite sights along the way because it was completely unique, with cliffs overlooking the ocean. While we were there, the sun was trying to peek out behind the clouds. I’m not sure why, but it looked to me as if the heavens were opening up. Pictures don’t quite do it justice!
Our bus driver/tour guide for the day was a lot of fun, making sure that we had ample time to explore at each stop we made. So after getting too close to the edge a couple times, it was on to the next place on our list – lunch! I was so hungry at this point that I could hardly wait to order the biggest, heaping plate of fish and chips I could find. After warming up by the fireplace, our next destination was the Cliffs of Moher.
The Cliffs of Moher tower 700 feet above the sea, so as you can imagine, it was quite a bit more windy and chilly up there! But every bit of wind was worth the breathtaking views from the vantage point the cliffs offered. When you walk up to the cliffs, you have the choice of taking the righthand path or the lefthand path. The righthand path leads up to O’Brien’s Tower and has a nice sturdy wall/guardrail to keep you from getting too close to the 700 foot cliffs. The lefthand path is suited for the more daring, as the smaller guardrail/wall suddenly disappears and you can get as close to the edge as you would like. If you’re wondering how close to the edge I got, just take a look at the pictures below. According to our tour guide, approximately 8 people have died in the past year from falling off of the cliffs, and 6 of them were trying to get a picture using a selfie stick. So no worries everyone, I was NOT using a selfie stick while I was there!!
(Above: Some of the other Purdue students who are studying at UCD this semester!)
After a chilly couple hours on top of the world, we travelled on to a portal tomb and a Celtic Ringfort, both of which we arrived to right at sunset. At the portal tomb (below), excavations had been completed, and the findings were the remains of 33 individuals who were buried in the chamber. The archaeologists claimed that the remains had been transferred to the tomb and dated back all the way to 3000 BC.
Below: The Cahermore, or Celtic Ringfort as our tour guide called it, was also a gorgeous sight at sunset. Talk about a beautiful landscape. This was a stone fort built sometime around 500 to 1170 AD. Back in medieval times, this fort would house over 100 people, including their livestock. People would live inside the two rings of the fort for protection from the outside, whatever that may have been!
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed the pictures and learning about the Irish countryside! My next blog post will be featuring my long weekend spent in London!