Standing on the Cliffs of Moher, on the West Coast of Ireland with my hair blowing in the strong breeze, my eyes are drawn to the surf below. The endless rolling waves that have carved out these walls for millions of years are continuing their work. The view is hard to put into words. Words simply won’t do it justice. Think breathtaking cliffs, crashing waves and history that goes back further than anything encountered in the United States.
It is a cool 15 degrees Celsius here, which is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Chilly for AZ standards, but at least it isn’t raining at the moment… But that can change and it does multiple times a day. The sun could be out and it could be raining. You realize how the Irish must shudder with a barrage of rainbows, today I saw three.
We have traversed the country and our trip has taken us to Ballybunion, Baltimore and the Cliffs of Moher, near Galway. It doesn’t take long to get anywhere, because Ireland is small. And if you drive to long in one direction you will end up in the water.
Ballybunion is a beach town in the South West of Ireland. The bluff you walk down to get the beach has a partial wall of a castle still standing lookout for incoming ships. The beach is sandy with small rocks and the waves vary in size, but it is lovely to walk barefoot if the weather is appropriate, which is hit or miss.
The town has pubs, B&B’s, restaurants, and my son’s favorite- arcades- the old beach town ones (slot machines for adults). He also enjoys the fabulous surf school where he has learned how to surf (with a full wet suit). It is a beach town that reminds me of the 1950’s beach towns in New England.
Down in the south of Ireland is a place called Baltimore- which is nothing like the large city in the USA. It is a quaint little town near the shore with a population of under 400 (2011) throughout the year. Then like Fountain Hills (opposite seasons though), the population explodes during its tourist season. It is rich in history- local pirates attacking other towns and ships as well as pirates from other lands attacking Baltimore. There are no more pirates, but they do have a pirate festival in the summertime. Now it is very peaceful and beautiful.
Sherkin Island and Cape Clear
A ferry ride will get you to Sherkin Island and Cape Clear. Lough Hyne (a marine reserve) is also minutes away to experience. Fishing and sailing are popular activities in the area as well as scuba diving. The bay has several ship wrecks to explore for those ready to brave the cold waters. I will send my son and his friends as I sit on the patio having tea or a proper Guinness of a lovely restaurant viewing the Bay.
Ireland has something to appeal to everyone; fabulous metropolitan life with a European flair, biking, hiking and walking opportunities in busy or rural settings for the more physical types, shopping and theatre as well as pubs and music, and historical and modern architecture for those who love that kind of thing.
The people I have encountered in Ireland truly make the experiences I have had even more amazing. They are funny, warm and welcoming, maybe that is why Ireland has a saying, “Céad Míle Fáilte” which means a ‘hundred thousand welcomes”.
I love all of it. It is my favorite place to go when I am not in my favorite place in the desert. Fountain Hills.