Tag Archives: County Clare

Entrance Tickets, The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The road was quiet and there weren’t a great deal of traffic so I was shocked when we arrived there and found a car park that covered several hundred square metres and was completely full of cars, I couldn’t imagine where they had all come from, it was as though they had been beamed down from space.

The second shock was the admission fee which at €6 seemed excessive to me so at the pay booth we asked for four senior tickets at only €4 each and got away with it.  This was a massive shock to Kim who sulked for the next few minutes because she hadn’t been challenged and later that night she used a lot more miracle night cream than she normally does.

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Ireland Cliffs of Moher

Ireland, West County Postcards

County Clare PostcardGalway IrelandCounty Mayo ostcard MapCounty Sligo Postcard

Postcards From Ireland

County Clare Postcard

Dublin Postcard

Ireland, The Cliffs of Moher and Ennistymon

Fenore Burren Ireland County Clare

I was still pondering how I might get my own back for the leaping salmon trick in Galway and at our next stop I had my opportunity…

At a place called Fenore where the barren grey rocks of the Burren meet the blue water of the Atlantic Ocean we stopped the car and walked across the fissures to the shore and then I pulled my trick, I feigned shock and when asked what was wrong told my companions that I had dropped the keys to the car and they had fallen down a very deep crack in the rocks.

We were miles from anywhere and before you could say the word crisis Kim and Pauline moved in an instant from slightly concerned to blind panic as we all got down on hands and knees and peered hopelessly into a narrow gap that seemed to go as far as the centre of the earth.  Arms were thrust into the crack and fingers probed for the missing keys, we looked for a stick that might help and looked back woefully at the car that was all securely locked with no access to a mobile phone.

It was a good trick but unfortunately I am not very good at keeping a good tease going and it wasn’t long before I could no longer suppress the smirk that was creeping across my face and my ruse was discovered but I was happy that I had got my own back for the phoney salmon sighting story.

Our next destination was the cliffs of Moher, an eight mile stretch of cliffs that soar vertically out of the sea to a height of nearly seven hundred feet at their highest point.  They are the third most visited visitor attraction in Ireland after the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo and attract nearly a million visitors a year which is even more than the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.  They are so famous that in 2011 they were included in the final twenty-eight candidates in a global on-line poll to find the New Seven Wonders of Nature. 

They didn’t make the final seven but then neither did the Grand Canyon or the Galapagos Islands!

Ireland Cliffs of Moher

The road was quiet and there weren’t a great deal of traffic so I was shocked when we arrived there and found a car park that covered several acres and was completely full of vehicles, I couldn’t imagine where they had all come from, it was as though they had been beamed down from space.

The second shock was the admission fee which at €6 seemed excessive to me so at the pay booth we asked for four senior tickets at only €4 each and got away with it.  This was a massive shock to Kim who sulked for the next few minutes because she hadn’t been challenged and later that night she used a lot more miracle night cream than she normally does.

There is no doubt that the cliffs are a wonderful sight but they have been commercialised with a vengeance with tarmac pavements, concrete viewing areas, an arcade of touristy craft outlets and a visitor centre with restaurants and a gift shop and the cliff top walk has been sunk below the level of the ground where visitors are safely separated from the land which ends surprisingly abruptly above the sea and the vertical drop beyond by a metre high rock wall which effectively destroys any effective communion with nature.

The Irish Independent newspaper include the cliffs in a list of Ireland suicide black spots* so I suppose it also prevents people throwing themselves over the side…

I like my cliff top natural environment experiences to be more natural, moody and solitary, rather like Wordsworth wandering through his field of daffodils or John Masefield going down to the sea again but that was impossible here, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of people swarming over the hills and any natural experience has been brutally denied so I came away cursing Clare County Council for building the carbuncle that is the visitor centre and feeling a little deflated and uninspired by the experience we walked back down the path past the coach park and the buses with growling engines and returned to the car park.

It was late afternoon by now so we continued the short distance towards the town of Ennistymon and found our accommodation for the night, The Grove Mount Bed and Breakfast, perched on the top of a hillside just outside the town.  It was a small and simple place and Sheila, the owner, made us welcome and gave us some advice about dining options for later on.  This didn’t take her very long because it turned out that there was only one so to be on the safe side we drove down to the town and booked a table.

We explored the main street and came across a pub called Eugene’s with a plaque on the wall declaring that it had been awarded the James Joyce Pub Award for being an authentic Irish Pub.  This was based on the fact that Joyce based many of his fictional characters on real people that he met in pubs.  It also had a painting of the Father Ted cast and whilst we stopped to photograph it a man who had far more drink than was good for him offered the information that the crew of the show used to stay in the Falls Hotel just around the corner but preferred to drink at Eugene’s.  We thought that we might come back later.

Back at the accommodation I remembered about the car and the question that I had asked earlier about the engine blowing up so I phoned the car hire company.  I explained about the mudslide of dashboard warning lights but they didn’t seem terribly concerned.

I told them that there was a reoccurring message that a service was due and the person on the other end of the line immediately diagnosed this as the problem and that it was therefore perfectly safe to drive.  Just to be sure I asked her the same question that I had asked earlier at Dunguaire Castle, ‘is the car going to blow up?  ‘Oh no’ she replied casually ‘It will be perfectly all right’ as though this was a question that she was quite used to dealing with.  On a scale of one to a hundred my confidence levels went up one notch –  from zero to one.

Eugene's Pub Ennistymon Ireland

* Most sources claim about ten suicides a year at the Cliffs of Moher but it seems that there are no really accurate statistics available  – there are eight miles of cliffs and a raging ocean below so it is possible that many go unreported.

According to Wikipedia the three biggest suicide black spots in the World are:

  • Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing, China
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
  • Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The three most popular suicide spots in England are the London Underground, the one hundred and sixty metre high cliffs at Beachy Head in Sussex and the two thousand two-hundred and twenty metre long Humber Bridge.

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery…

Ireland, County Clare and The Burren

The Burren County Clare Ireland

“The Burren is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.”

Later in the morning we were leaving Galway to drive south through the Burren and towards our next scheduled overnight stop at the town of Ennistymon in the heart of Father Ted* country but as this wasn’t an especially long journey we were in no particular rush to leave and so after breakfast we wandered off into the city again to visit the Saturday morning street market.

I have explained before (several times) that I am not a fan of shopping but I don’t mind the local market especially one that sells regional produce and handmade crafts so it was quite enjoyable strolling around in the sunshine, tasting local food and debating whether or not to buy a pointless souvenir or a piece of traditional Irish woollen clothing that we would possibly never ever wear again once back home.  So we didn’t.

As midday approached we turned our backs on Galway, threw a few more coins into the collection boxes of the street entertainers and returned to the hotel to check out and load the car.

The car! OMG the car!

Over the last forty-eight hours I had forgotten about the warning lights on the dashboard and they flashed up again like casino gaming machine as soon as I turned on the ignition and although they are normally supposed to go out after a couple of seconds or so they took it in turn to blink and flash and most worrying of all there was that pesky engine management warning light again.  The engine sounded sweet enough however and there were no plumes of black smoke or sounds of exploding metal so we carried on and resolved to ring the car hire company later on.

Dunguaire Castle Kinvara Ireland

We drove inland along the north shore of Galway Bay, then south before turning west along the south shore and into a region called the Burren, an area that makes it into every top ten list of natural wonders in Ireland.  A vast barren area of bare limestone rock  and at first sight very little else and the first coastal village that we arrived at was Kinvara where we stopped at the outskirts at the site of the restored Dunguaire Castle.

According to legend if you stand at the front gate and ask a question you will have an answer to by the end of the day.  While Richard and Pauline went to the top of the battlements and Kim made a circuit of the castle looking for photo opportunities I made my way to the front gate and asked my question, ‘is the car going to blow up?’

Out of all of us Richard was the most excited about the Burren and plotted a route to take us into the interior to see rock formations formed by criss-crossing cracks known as ‘grikes’ and isolated boulders called ‘clints’ which between them have formed deep crevices with layers of fossils and the home to a multitude of alpine plants and he wandered off and poked his camera lens into these interesting places.  Kim and Pauline were obviously much less impressed by this rocky wilderness and returned to the car after only a very quick and discourteous glance but I took a look around and tried to get a better understanding of the bleakness of the place and if I had been a geologist or a botanist then I am certain that I would have got very excited, but I’m not and I didn’t.

With Richard outvoted three to one we now returned to the coast and to the village of Ballyvaughan which seemed unexpectedly busy.

The reason was that there was a cycle event taking place today called the tour de Burren and nearly two thousand cyclists were taking part and were all due at the finishing line in Ballyvaughan later this afternoon.  We stopped for a short while for a Guinness and a sandwich and then we made our way out of the village and headed west before it was completely taken over by women in inappropriately tight lycra, men with shaved alien legs, those weird helmets that cyclists wear and competitors and spectators alike in garish bright colours that for driving safety reasons required the use of double sunglasses.

Driving became increasingly difficult now because all of the cyclists were coming towards us in the opposite direction and it needed total concentration not to knock any of them off their bike and spoil everyone’s afternoon.  There was only one near miss when a cyclist choose to make a risky overtaking manoeuvre at the top of a ridge just as we were approaching from the other side.  I demonstrated the reactions of a formula one racing driver and braked hard to avoid a collision and caught the look of sheer panic on his face as he swerved back to his own side of the road just in time but I am quite certain that it was the sort of incident that would require him to disinfect his saddle later on!

The scenery was spectacular now as the road swept around the coast in a roller-coaster sort of way and we stopped several times to admire the views and walk across the grikes and even Kim and Pauline were finding it interesting now.  And so were some of the cyclists because many of them were also pulling up and taking photographs in a leisurely sort of way that convinced me that this wasn’t a cycle race in the same way that the Tour de France’ is a cycle race because I am sure that Chris Frome doesn’t stop to take pictures whilst cycling through the Pyrenees.

At Black Head Point the road turned an abrupt 90° and we headed south with the Atlantic Ocean to our right.  The road all along this coast is called the Wild Atlantic Way but there was absolutely nothing wild about it today and with blue skies, sunshine and no wind the sea could hardly find the energy to make a slight ripple let alone a crashing wave and the water caressed the shoreline in a gentle peaceful sort of way.

With the dashboard still lit up like the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise we carried on now towards the Cliffs of Moher.

The Burren map Ireland

* As my UK readership only makes up about 20% of all my page views an explanation is required:

I am going to mention Father Ted again in the next couple of posts so I need to tell you that this was a cult UK situation comedy about three priests living in Ireland which generally pokes fun at Ireland and its stereotypes.  It probably doesn’t travel too well.  There was once talk of a US version but the project was abandoned before it started.

Ireland Father Ted Tour Craggy Island Parochial House

Ireland, The Preview

Ireland Map

I have just returned from Ireland and will be posting about the journey soon, but before I get around to it this is a little taster…

Ireland Guiness

Ireland Father Ted Tour Craggy Island Parochial House

Galway Street Entertainment

Ireland Cliffs of Moher

Ireland Ennistymon Bright Colours