We drove a bit further today than we had in the previous couple of days. With limited time in Ireland, we wanted to see as much of the country as we could, while insuring that we saw a few of the key tourist sites.
After we crossed the River Shannon on the ferry, we turned directions over to our in-car GPS…and found ourselves on a true backroad. I believe that it was R483 as it provides a more direct route to the Cliffs of Moher than does N67 which appears to be the main highway north from Killimer.
The good news is while we weren’t exactly speeding along toward our destination, we did get to see rural western Ireland up close… As in rural America, deserted farms and farm houses weren’t an unusual sight, even if they are a bit poignant.
We couldn’t tell if this farmhouse was abandoned or not…but the cattle seem to like the overgrown yard.
…and the road got smaller and smaller! The grass in the middle is a clue regarding the traffic that this road doesn’t experience…
Here was yet another deserted farm. Despite the ruin, one must appreciate the stonework and the effort it must have taken to build this structure.
Then suddenly we came to a small village and experienced a farm country ‘traffic jam’! As one sees here and there throughout the USA, many small towns are shrinking with waning prosperity in evidence. I think that this was the village of Cooraclare.
In Creegh (or Cree) Ireland…which is a bit closer to the coast…we noted Meany’s Foodstore and Deli, with Walsh’s Pub and Restaurant just down the street. (http://walshspub.westclare.net/)
Just a couple of miles past Creegh on R483, we merged with N67, the main coastal highway. The land was flattening out as we neared the west coast of Ireland.
…and then as we entered the village of Quilty, we could see the Atlantic Ocean with the surf along the shore and the cliffs off in the distance.
We drove down to the shore and got out of the car to walk around and stretch our legs…
Quilty (Irish Gaelic: Coillte, meaning ‘woods’) is a small fishing village with a population of about 200. Lobster, salmon, bass, herring and mackerel are all part of the harvest from the sea. The village was formerly known for its fish curing industry.
The Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Quilty sits right on the seashore, right across from where we parked to take a break. This is far and away the most dominant structure in the village!
This church came into being due to the wreck of a large French cargo ship, the Leon XIII, which was named after Pope Leo. Crews of local fishermen risked their lives to save the crew of the freighter. The heroic deeds of the fishermen gained international publicity. It had been known for years that the village had wanted a church but the poverty of this fishing community couldn’t provide the funding needed. In an early example of a ‘go fund me’ account, funds were set up for both the material needs of the fishermen as well as for a church building. This church was dedicated in 1911… Website: http://www.kibparish.ie/2010/11/our-lady-star-of-the-sea-quilty-2/.
Moving north on N67 along the coast, we passed through a few small towns. This is Milltown Mallbay and it has a population of about 600 residents.
This town was founded in about 1800 but it grew quickly. By 1851, it had a population of 1,452.
During the Great Famine many farmers were evicted by an unpopular landlord named Moroney. It got so bad that at one point the population started a boycott. The government responded by imprisoning all the pub-owners and shopkeepers who refused to serve the Moroney family or their servants. Consequently, by the end of 1888, most pub-owners and shopkeepers were in jail!
…beautiful countryside and a spectacularly gorgeous day!
Colorful homes dotted the scene along the road as we neared the Cliffs of Moher.
This handsome horse in one little village came over to the wall to chat with Laurie so she took his picture…
Just before we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, we passed a long broad beach with several folks wandering along the shore of Liscannor Bay and the town of Lahinch. The town itself is a seaside resort and a popular surfing destination.
For those golfers out there, it’s also home to the Lahinch Golf Club. This 36-hole golf club was founded back in 1892. The original links was laid out by Old Tom Morris, a legendary Scottish golfer. The website for this golf club is found at http://www.lahinchgolf.com/. Check out the photos…it’s a beautiful course!
The parking area at the Cliffs of Moher is huge…and it was crowded too! Other than Dublin, this was the largest gathering of people that we’d seen anywhere in Ireland! The Visitor’s Center is cleverly built right into the hillside.
With all of its exhibits and photos it’s an integral part of the experience. Along with many other facts, we learned that flagstones carved from the cliffs were a valuable source of income for those living in the area. Another source of sustenance and income was the harvesting of birds and their eggs from the cliffs themselves. That continued until WWII.
Well…if the Visitor’s Center can build into the hillside, why can’t the souvenir shops?!
Then there is of course, the main attraction…the Cliffs of Moher themselves. These sea cliffs stretch along the Atlantic coast of Ireland for more than 9 miles. At their southern end they are 390 feet above the ocean and just 5 miles north near O’Brien’s Tower, they reach a maximum height of 703 feet!
The cliffs are very impressive with crashing surf below and lots of sea caves as well as interesting formations carved out over the millennia by the ocean waves.
It is a spectacularly beautiful area. In the USA, we’d compare them to Big Sur in California as well as parts of the Oregon and Washington coasts and of course, Acadia National Park in Maine.
It was very windy on top of the cliffs! Bill was fortunate that he keeps his remaining hair cut very short…
FYI…that is O’Brien’s Tower in the background. The tower was built on the cliffs in 1835 by local landlord and Member of Parliament Sir Cornellius O’Brien as an observation tower for the tourists of the day who visited the cliffs. It is said to have initially served as a teahouse…
Just how windy was it during our visit? We thought that Bill might just fly away… It was indeed hard to walk against the wind!
Speaking of walking, for the truly energetic there is an 11 mile cliff walk that can be accessed from several points along the length of the cliffs. To learn more, go to https://www.wildatlanticway.com/plan-your-trip/clare/eat-drink-nightlife/cafes-restaurants/details/cliffs-of-moher-coastal-walk.
While I like having the little hair that remains on my head, this is one time that I didn’t really appreciate it… Worse yet, it was too windy to wear my hat when Bonnie took this photo of Laurie and me.
I zoomed in on this boat that cruised by the Cliffs of Moher while we were there… It’s one of boats from one of the 2 ferry/excursion services that operate out of the Doolin Harbor. Both services provide Cliffs of Moher tours as well as trips of various length out to the Aran Islands. For information about the various companies and their offerings, just go to https://www.doolin2aranferries.com/ or https://www.doolinferry.com/.
· The Aran Islands are a group of 3 islands with a total area of about 18 square miles that are located in the mouth of Galway Bay. The 1,200 inhabitants primarily speak Irish Gaelic but they are also fluent in English. There are several Bronze Age and Iron Age forts and attractions on the islands. To learn more, you can go to http://www.aranislands.ie/.
…just one more look at the Cliffs of Moher! At peak season, there are about 30,000 pairs of birds living on the cliffs. They represent more than 20 different species. These include Atlantic puffins and razorbills. Sea life abounds as well and visitors may see grey seals, porpoises, dolphins, minke whales and basking sharks.
Of course, with such a dramatic tourist destination there can be a downside. The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland…with roughly 1,500,000 visitors per year. That would equal over 4,000 per day and of course in nice weather, especially in the summer, the crowds are much larger.
Tourist numbers are so large that at times there are problems with overcrowding, primarily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during peak season. Visitors are increasingly encouraged to come at other times…with discounts even being given to bus/coach operators who book for off-peak slots. It was busy when we were there in late September but it wasn’t too crowded.
To learn more about visiting the Cliffs of Moher, you can go to the official site at http://www.cliffs-moher.com/ and for more background, there is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliffs_of_Moher.
That’s it for this long posting… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Thanks for stopping by to continue with us on our Irish adventure!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave