I need to make a confession.
With some places I go to, I actually don’t know what I should be seeing or what I should be doing but somehow I am just there. It happens! It isn’t to say I am ignorant on the places I venture to, sometimes I like not knowing so I don’t have these crazily high expectations and in the end, I am simply blown away by them. Ireland is one of those places.
Upon arriving in Dublin, I did my tourist thing in and around the city including an almost fairytale trip to Wicklow Mountains National Park. I say almost fairytale as besides the fact the park setting was magical in itself, it would be complete if somehow, my Irish Prince Charming emerged from the woods via horseback and decided to whisk me away into a castle and we lived happily ever after. That (unfortunately) didn’t happen but experiencing magical settings continued to happen and that was with a trip to the stunning Cliffs of Moher.
The Cliffs of Moher are one Ireland’s most famed tourist attractions. Situated along the Europe’s most westerly tip and looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean, the Cliffs of Moher are UNESCO World Heritage listed and have been voted recently as one of the most spectacular natural heritage sites. It is easy to see why.
I opted to do a tour to the Cliffs of Moher after chatting with people and conducting research myself about the ease of getting there and also the expenses involved. It would be the most feasible option as well as the most informative way and it is something I would highly recommend as it is a very long, jam packed filled day made even better by being hosted by very outgoing tour guides!
The tour left in the early hours of the morning from Dublin and went straight to the other side of the country with some scenic views en route to be had. Who am I kidding? There was so many amazing views – castles, cows, fairy trees (This is legit and not just an extension of my fairytale idea) and the sheer lush of green of the Irish countryside.
The Irish take their folklore seriously. According to traditional Celtic folklore, a lone Hawthorne tree growing in the middle of a field is labelled a fairy (or faerie) tree. This tree represents the gateway between the world of the mortals and world of the fairies, who had been banished to the underground by the mythical race the Milesians back in the 11th century. Legend has it if you destroy or damage the trees, you will bring misfortune to yourself. This would explain the controversial rerouting of a major highway in Ireland due to a fairy tree being present in its’ path!
Upon arriving at the Cliffs of Moher after passing many fairy trees, I was just in awe. Labelling it spectacular doesn’t even do it justice. I was told that it was an abnormally sunny day with perfect weather and blue skies. Abnormal in the fact that for the most part, Ireland is a country that sees a lot of rain. On this particular day, the wasn’t a drop in the sky.
On the tour, I befriended an American tourist who had told me he had been dreaming of exploring the Irish countryside since he was young so it felt pretty special to see someone realise one of their dreams being achieved.
Now there are two ways to tackle the coast, behind the barrier and in front of the barrier and really being moments away from the cliffs that sit 200 metres above the Atlantic Ocean with the highest point being 214 metres along the 8 kilometres stretch of the cliffs. Of course, I chose the most fearless side!
It was hard not to whip out the camera every few minutes as the views just kept on coming – towering cliff faces embracing the ocean with its rugged coastline. We spent just under 2 hours walking along the cliffs, playing with fire by being so close to the edge. In the end, we had to turn back and join the rest of the tour, we were so close yet so far to our desired point of the coastline. We underestimated the time and ended up having to run along the coast back to the bus. Note to self: Do not underestimate the time it takes to trek a coastline!
Unexpectedly after having an impromptu marathon run, we were off to Burren National Park. Its’ scenery is somewhat likened to being on the moon due to its unusual limestone surface formations. The natural beauty of Ireland just keeps on giving!
The last stop of the tour was a whirlwind exploration of the medieval city of Galway. On the outset, it is small lively, seaside city with a bohemian feel due to its colourful appearance. This place is renowned for its seafood and is often referred to being the most Irish city in all of Ireland as Irish Gaelic is often spoken. Just a side fact, despite the fact Gaelic Irish is the national language, only a small percentage actually speak it with as little as 5% using it regularly.
I feasted on my new favourite Irish dish, steak and Guinness pie while lapping up the main fanfare along the narrow strip in the centre of Galways’ old town. It was buzzing, the sun was shining and it was just so nice to sit back, unwind and take in the simple pleasures of life and people watch along the main drag which felt quaint. It just how I wanted to feel after a long day of exploring Ireland’s natural wonders – with all the magical ambience that Ireland gives.
Disclaimer: I was traveling as a guest of Wild Rover Tours.