Today was a rollercoaster of emotions. After a long and arduous plane flight across the Atlantic, we arrived at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Customs was a breeze, and our checked bags made it with us despite a few battle rips and stains. After learning a crash course in left-sided driving (Aim for the driver side against the median line) from the shuttle driver, Jer aimed the car toward Ennis en route to the Cliffs of Moher.
We have been reading a novel, “When Summer’s in the Meadow” by Niall Williams & Christine Breen, recommended to us by my Grandfather’s cousin. It documents the years spent living in Ireland and adopting a baby girl by a young American couple. Though lacking tales of kings and queens, dragons and battles, the real-life story tells of their struggles and joys living in a simple cottage in a little village called Kiltumper. I wasn’t able to find where exactly Kiltumper was but they did mention going into Ennis as the largest town near them any time they needed something specific (like a de-humidifier). Ennis is considered a wooden town, one that nearly burned down in 1249 and was later razed by one of the O’Brien’s in 1306. Lacking any cash (the one thing I forgot to pack – the 50 or so Euros I had from Junior’s Abroad when I went to Israel, Turkey, & Greece), we feared stopping anywhere in town (cost to park) but enjoyed the colorful shops, narrow roads, and beautiful churches and friary.
From there, we went straight to the Cliffs of Moher. Keep in mind that this is possibly our longest driving day and from the time we landed to arriving at the Cliffs, it’s only been 1-1.5 hours. Hearing stories of the gusty wind from my parents and reading of the crashing waves blocking out the sound of tourists, we were surprised to find neither of those two to be true for our visit. It was a perfect weather sort of day, perhaps even on the side of too warm, the wind was barely noticeable, and the waves were only a distant roar. The quietness of the place only furthered just how surreal it all felt. One guidebook we read suggested hiking north or south past the ‘Moher wall’, a stone wall to keep people from toppling over the edge, so we did just that. We hiked some north, past the tower then back tracked and hiked a ways south to take in the dramatic view from as many spots as possible.
It was recommend we cut out at least 3 hours to spend at the Cliffs but with no food or drinks in our tummies, we hiked around for 2 hours before opting to head north. We drove past Doonagore Castle, originally dating back to the 16th century but restored in the 1970s. Its not open to the public but it was fun to drive by before continuing on through Doolin and to Dunguaire Castle.
Dungaire Castle, a short drive north from the Cliffs of Moher, was originally erected in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan but is believed to occupy the site of the 16th century royal palace of Guaire Aidhne, King of Connaught. In the guide book (one which I’ll most likely refer to often, Lonely Planet’s Ireland 2016 version), marked this castle as a must see and suggested a climb to the roof. Though at another 6 Euros and feeling the tiredness of travel weighing on us, we opted for another drive by so we could steal a quick nap and walk the streets of Galway.
We arrived in Galway at 3:00pm and were lucky enough to be able to check into our B&B room early. Its not so much that we’re jet lagged as we hadn’t been able to catch much sleep on the plane trip to Shannon so we were simply exhausted from all the travel. After a 2 hour nap and some showers, we were feeling much better and excited at the prospect of having more time in Galway than initially planned. We set out on foot to Eyre Square and Quay Street to sit down for our first official meal in Ireland and do some people watching.
All in all, after traveling all day yesterday and feeling terribly exhausted, we walked over 18,000 steps (8 miles) and 26 flights of steps. Now, to enjoy our first full nights sleep as a married couple. I do want to note that while we have an adapter for our phones to charge, no such luck has been found for the laptop. Therefore, this may be the last of the posts from my laptop so please forgive any future typos or lack of words and pictures as typing this all from a phone may be an adventure in and of itself.
Tomorrow’s plan includes walking around Galway in the morning for breakfast and some shopping, a picnic lunch at Coral Strand (Carraroe or An Cheothru Rua), a drive through Connemara National Park, some time exploring the grounds of Kylemore Abbey, then back to Galway for the pub hopping we were too tired to do tonight.