Sunday August 11: we set off from Killarney, north across County Kerry, and took a ferry to County Clare – avoding the long drive around County Limmerick. The three main items of the day were the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the medieval part of the city of Galway. The day started off moderately rainy, but cleared up for us as the day progressed.
I’ve become fascinated with the Irish place names, which on all the highway signage are posted in slanted mixed-case font above the all-caps English names. So we passed Lios Tuathail (Listowel), Tairbeart (Tarbert), Cill Rios (Killrush), Lios Ceannúir (Liscannor, famous for its particular kind of stone), and Gaillimh (Galway). Much of our route today was on the Sli an Atlantaigh Fháin (Wild Atlantic Way).
We reached the ferry just before it set off, the last vehicle on board. I always admire people with skills I don’t have, so was impressed when the ferrymen managed to get our bus onto the ferry, and raise the ramp into place, by getting us to park at an angle across two lanes.
The first major stop was Aillte an Mhotháir, the Cliffs of Moher , which my wife googled as having appeared in a couple of movies, including The Princess Bride (the ‘ Cliffs of Insanity ’). The cliffside is a protected habitat, and the cliffs occasionally crumble into the Atlantic, so there’s more than just avoiding falls for staying on the right side of the slate barrier stones.
The visitor’s centre was controversial; proposal after proposal was rejected as ruining the landscape, until one at last proposed digging it into the hillside.
I had a quick lunch and went out to explore. From the low point near the visitor’s centre the paths went up moderate slopes both north and south. I went north first, which gave me views of the south cliffs, which to me were the more spectacular.
I made it to the top of the north cliff, and considered reversing back to the south, but I met a couple of travelling companions who said they had taken nearly an hour and a half to make it to the far end of the south cliffs and back. So I just went far enough to get a picture of the north cliffs.
We then took the ‘scenic route’ to the city of Galway. This included the very rocky region of the Burren (Barren), scraped nearly clean of soil by glaciers in the last Ice Age. It is also a protected area.
We passed a regatta of Galway hookers, a kind of fishing vessel with red sails that inspired a song about red sails in the sunset.
We also passed Dunguaire Castle , which serves medieval banquets.
In Galway we took a brief walking tour of the oldest part of the city. The Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas was built in 1320. As with many Christian churches in Europe, it was apparently built on a pagan site, where a pair of ley lines are said to intersect.
We stayed overnight in Galway.