|Cliffs of Moher, looking south|
Our first stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs hold a special spot in our hearts as the setting for the "Cliffs of Insanity" in the Princess Bride. From where we were standing, on top of them, they didn't seem quite as ominous but they are really tall and beautiful. It was interesting because about 5 minutes before we arrived at the cliffs, we were at sea level looking at the sea just to the left of our car, about 5 minutes after leaving the cliffs again we were at sea level. The cliffs rise up from the land for just a short distance but they rise up quickly.
|Cliffs of Moher, looking north.|
We parked the car and hurriedly put on our jackets and Hannah wrapped her scarf around her head. The wind was blowing fiercely at about 20 mph. We stopped at the Visitor Center first. It was a well done exhibit with lots of hands on things for the kids. We enjoyed a brief, bird's eye view video that showcased the land and sea dwelling creatures around this area of Ireland. We learned this is a Puffin nesting ground but were disappointed when we found out we'd missed the season and the Puffins has all gone out to sea for the winter.
|Looking inland from the Cliffs, this is ranch land for cattle and sheep. |
There are lots of rocks underneath that grass.
After the Visitor Center we walked out to the cliffs. The wind rushed around us and Spencer was a bit afraid of being blown off the cliff. We walked along them to the north until the path becomes less maintained. Jonathan was a bit turned off by the signage about landslides making the trail dangerous. Then we headed in the other direction. Again the sun was in our eyes but when we turned around we had better views.
|Those bald hills are the Burren. This picture doesn't do this view justice.|
We were all a bit chilled when we finished but the kids, minus Ben, all agreed it was a good stop. We continued on up the coast into an area called the Burren. It is a barren part of southwestern Ireland where once a Cromwellian Army Officer said, "it is said that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury them." After the Burren, we headed in the Connemara region. This area goes from the sea inland and has some historic designation as a Gaeltacht or Irish speaking region of Ireland. The area is still rugged but blanket bogs cover much of the region. Charlotte and I had an adventure of the trail at one point and sure enough, what we though was solid land was water saturated vegetation. We were quick to find our way back to the car.
|Driving into Connemara.|
With the sea right there, we truly felt like we were at the end of the earth. It was interesting to reflect that several hundred years ago this was the end of the Earth for many Europeans. The whole area was so rugged and wild but beautiful all at the same time. I think that is the beauty of Ireland, ancient and wild but beautiful beyond measure.