Travel Journal April 20, 1999

Cliffs of Moher

Here's what Mike Jittlov's Guide to Ireland has to say about this part of the country.

Cliffs of Moher - neat walking, lawn to O'Brien's Castle/Tourist Nook; cliffs are "700 feet over the pounding Atlantic waves", with a view of Arran on a clear day [Voucher for the Visitor Centre, 10% off £10+ purchases, open 10-6]; crossroads nearby, there's an odd Virgin Mary shrine (but when asking where, do not refer to it as "Our Lady of the Phonebooth"!)

Lisdoonvarna - Ireland's premier spa resort; also site of the annual Matchmaking Festival (3 weeks in September)

The Burren - lunar limestone landscape, "Springtime on the Burren is a botanist's paradise" (Aillwee Caves definitely worth the visit)

Well, here are the cliffs, and they are indeed spectacular:


O'Brien's tower was built for sightseeing Victorians.


You can just barely see the Aran Islands in this picture.

But if you hop over the low wall, and walk along the path going away from the tower (past the sign that says "Extreme Danger! Stay away from cliff edge!"), you get even more spectacular views.

Yes, those little dots in the large version of the picture are people.


The Burren

These pictures were taken just above the parking lot for Ailwee caves.


Look at these incredible crevices...apparently, the limestone is full of cracks, and the water flows downward into the cracks (into the cave system below), eroding the rocks on the way down.


Here's the caves. (Note: My main reason for taking these pictures were taken to experiment with the camera's "increased sensitivity" mode.)

The first picture shows the skeletal remains of a bear, and the second some stalactite/stalagmite formations.


The first of these two pictures was on "high" sensitivity, the second on "med" (the default setting is "standard"). This formation is called the frozen waterfall.


And a real waterfall:

A different part of the Burren.

I did in fact look at the portal dolmen, which was not well marked, and also on private land; I wasn't terribly impressed, and didn't take a photo of it.

The matchmaking festival sounds really interesting, too bad it's not September :-)

Afterwards I drove to Galway. I notice that most of the streets of Galway are currently undergoing substantial roadwork. I ate dinner at a really nice pub called the Quays, on Quay St. It had good Irish music, and wasn't too crowded...amazing!

Galway has a huge number of hostels, but the B&B's are further out, so I decided to stay in a hostel for once, called Kinlay's. Not a bad place, although there were a couple of minor comforts that I missed (like a towel of sufficient size.) At least it was warm enough.