We had an early flight into Shannon, Ireland airport. I think we all took a nap on the plane. After landing and going through customs, we went out to our rental car. Chuck was going to be our driver as he was the only one of us use to driving on the left side of the road. Originally, he had talked about just getting a standard, but he gets pretty stressed out in traffic and with the narrow roads of Ireland, I insisted he get a automatic! We loaded up our trunk space, which you tell we had a couple of engineers with us, as they got all our bags to fit in just perfectly. we were off. Our first stop was to the cliffs of Moher. We had always heard about them and had wanted to go see them, but it is a full day trip out of Dublin and then if the weather is at all cloudy, you can’t see them so hated to risk booking a tour to spend all day in a bus with no view. It was a bit overcast when we left the airport, but everyone there told us it would be a good day with good visibility.
We were almost to the Cliffs of Moher when we drove into the town of Lanchin and the beach there. The view was really great and there were lots of people out enjoying the surf. Chuck parked the car and we all got out to check out the sights. Even though it was overcast and looked chilly, there were people of all ages out in the water and playing in the sand. There were also lots of surfers wearing wet suits giving it a go. We later found out that it was “Mermaid” weekend where all ladies can try surfing for free to try to encourage them to take up surfing. Unfortunately, Lisa nor I had brought our swimsuits, so we were out of luck. It was a nice break before we got back into the car and headed towards the cliffs.
When we arrived at the cliffs, we did bring our light jackets, but the sun came out and it ended up being a beautiful day. The cliffs were magnificent. The entire coastline was gorgeous! The different shades of brilliant blue water against the white and tan cliffs and the green, green Irish grass with the blue skies and white fluffy clouds overhead made every photo ready to frame. Even though there were quite a few people and tour busses there, it is such a large area that it never seemed very crowded. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited national attraction with around a million visitors a year. The highest point of the cliffs is 703 feet and they stretch for 5 miles along the Atlantic coast of West Ireland. Besides a visitor center telling about the cliffs, there are several gift shops, a few restaurants and O’Brien Tower. Unfortunately, the day we were there, the tower was going through some refurbishing so was closed for visitors. O’Brien’s Tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’ Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, the High King Of Ireland. Cornelius was the local landowner and was a man ahead of his time, believing that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy & bring the people out of poverty. He was definitely right! There were pastures with cattle on either side of the area for visitors that was clearly marked that it was private property and if you ventured past the fence line, the land owner was not responsible for any “accidents”. Of course, everyone climbed over the fence and down the well-worn path to either end of the cliffs. It was a little scary with no guard rails or anything, but made for some great photos! We had brought our binoculars, so it was fun to search the cliffs looking for puffins who nest here and can be seen after March. We never found any puffins, but did manage to see tons and tons of razorbills, who almost resemble small black and white penguins lining the cliff walls. The razorbill is a colonial seabird that only comes to land in order to breed. They have one mate and usually only one egg a year. They nest in the crevices of the cliffs. Although we couldn’t see them with the naked eye, I zoomed in with my camera and took photos…later to discover the cliffs were covered with them.
There were also several musicians seated along the path to see the cliffs. Musicians playing traditional Irish music in the open air near the cliffs has been a long-standing tradition. The day that we were there, we heard an Irish harp player as well as a banjo player. The music and the beautiful view of the cliffs in the sunshine made for a perfect day. Because I took over 200 photos while at the cliffs, I’ll just post some of the many photos I took that day, along with the beautiful drive through Ireland on our way to Galway later that afternoon.