“The sun is setting in a burnt orange sky; the cliffs are black silhouettes; the sea, liquid silver.”
― Laura Treacy Bentley, The Silver Tattoo
My favorite day from my trip to Dublin was hands down my day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
I lucked out with an incredible day, weather-wise. As our tour guide said, you never know if you will see the cliffs until you get up there. The cliffs are temperamental and evasive⏤ a spurt of fog is unpredictable⏤it's as if they are selective of those who can see their greatness. I was thankful that the weather was on my side that day and that they decided to show themselves and their full effect 🙏🏻
My day started bright and early. I took an cab from my hotel at 6:30am to make it to the 7:00am bus departure from the center of O'Connell Street. For this day trip, I went with Wild Rover Tours. I had read a lot of positive reviews but I mainly liked how the day trip incorporated other stops in addition to the cliffs. One of the many recommendations I got from co-workers and friends was to make time to see and explore Galway. Unfortunately with only 3 days total in Ireland, I had to cram as much as I could and this day trip appealed to me because it hit up 3 spots on the Atlantic coast all in one day (Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, and Galway). The bus left promptly at 7:00am and we were at the cliffs by 11:00am. The 3 hour ride was comfortable and beautiful. We drove through the counties of Kildare and Limerick and our guide filled us in on a little bit of history. The drive was stunning⏤ rolling hills, ponies, and lots of sheep. It was like out of the scenes of a movie or Outlander.
I admit I dozed off a bit but I made sure to try to take the long drive in. The bus had complimentary wifi for those wondering 😛.
The cliffs are 214m (~702ft) high at their highest and run 8km (~5miles) toward the western seaboard of County Clare. Once we arrived, it was up to us on how we wanted to explore. I liked this because I could take as many photos as I desired 😁 and stare into the distance for as long as I pleased. I believe we had around 2 hrs maybe 2.5hrs. to wander around. We had the option of going to the Atlantic Edge visitor center for some exhibits and displays but I chose to spend my time outside.
Here are some of the incredible shots I captured. Keep in mind, NONE of these are edited. This was all natural light and just sheer beauty
The cliffs were magical. Irish folklore mentions the cliffs in a multiple tales. My favorites are of the Lost City of Kilstiffen and the tale of the old witch. Here are some links that capture these Irish legends: TravelMag and Legends of the cliffs
After the cliffs, we continued our journey along the Atlantic coast to the Burren National Park. This Burren is a rocky place, just as its name suggests in Irish. Much of the ground is made of limestone, but you'll patches of life cling in between, little flowers and tufts of grass, all making room for themselves among the rock. The limestone formed as sedimentation and contains million year old fossils of corals, sea urchins, sea-lilies and ammonites.
The Burren is said to have given name to the infamous character of Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Gollum is said to be named after a cave found in the Burren named known as the "Poll Na gColm."
Our stop at the Burren was short but was just the right amount of time to snap some photos and take in the vastness and rockiness. Then we were back on the bus to travel to Galway via the scenic Galway Bay. The drive was gorgeous- I unfortunately sat on the righthand side of the bus so I had a hard time snapping the scenes. *travel tip: sit on the left side!* I did however get a shot of the smallest medieval castle!
Our tour guide knew I was from Boston so he made sure I got a picture of this sign on our way to Galway. I guess I was closer to home than I thought I was 💫
Galway is Irelands culture capital. It is described at "The Venice of the West" by W.B. Yeats. Galway is a creative hub, full of art and bohemian style. Right by the water, Galway has a beautiful port. While we were there they had a seafood festival going on, so the smell of fish could be felt on the streets neighboring the water.
The colorful streets were filled with little shops, pubs, and live music.
We had about ~1.5-2 hrs to explore the city at our own pace. There was an option to do a short 30 min walking tour, but again I chose to explore solo!
I took our tour guide's recommendation and had dinner at Finnegan's Restaurant and Bar. I had the fried mushrooms as an appetizer ⏤these were great. For my main meal, I wanted to have something traditional, so I went with the shepherd's pie. It was very heavy on the gravy and to be honest it wasn't great. I hate to say it, but the shepherd's pie at the Cheesecake Factory is better 😳. Here is a photo for those that want to see. It isn't instagram pretty 🤣 but most Irish food isn't!
I did enjoy the medieval interior and the service was great. I finished off the meal⏤meaning I ate all the fried mushrooms and only a few bites of the pie⏤with a traditional Irish coffee ( coffee + Irish Whiskey + heavy cream). Now this was good! Very good! Way better than the food! I'd never had an Irish coffee but this was a great way to end the meal and it gave me a little buzz! Just what I needed to relax for the 3 hour ride back to Dublin 😴
We got back into Dublin around 8pm; so it was really a full day of exploration! I was definitely tired after but thankful that I had such a beautiful day to see the coast of Ireland. I highly recommend the day trip I took for anyone who is limited on time and wants to see Ireland outside of Dublin. As a solo traveller, it was an easy arrangement (~$55 euro ticket for end of June, Wild Rover Tour of Cliffs Of Moher, Atlantic Edge Ocean Walk & Galway City Day Tour From Dublin) and entirely hassle free. I didn't need to worry about transport or directions. Plenty of others on the trip were also solo travelers, but I didn't feel at all forced to interact with them or other on the bus if I didn't feel like it. Our guide was knowledgable and funny ⏤but not overly talkative or pushy. Do I wish I had more time in Galway? Yes, but that is to be expected! I know I will have to visit Ireland again and devote a few days to exploring the countryside. In contrast to how I spent my first day in Dublin, the day trip to the cliffs was refreshing. Though I was tired from both days, after the cliffs I didn't feel that same exhaustion I felt from the hustle of the city. I will never forget the endless rolling hills, accented with roaming sheep, picturesque ponies, and endless greens.
It all was just meant to be.