European Delights 2009 travel blog

Aran Islands

Cliffs of Moore

Clifden

Clifden


Oh such a lovely rest! I slept in this morning, in my beautiful luxurious designer boutique hotel in the middle of nowhere! Ate breakfast like a king and had a long hot bath! By 11am we were on our road trip across to the west passing through Galway and ending up in Clifden, a lovely coastal town.

I had the opportunity to drive today which was great fun, the roads are really bendy here which made me feel like a rally driver, much to Dad's displeasure (when he managed to stay awake that is!).

One place we took in, but would have liked more time enjoying was the Aran Isle. A little spot known as Inishmore (or Inis Mór, it is the largest of the three islands which measures just 14km in length and 4.8km (3 miles) at its widest point. The islands are famous for their prehistoric and Christian monuments including the spectacular Dún Aengus fort that is one of best examples of this type of fort in all of Europe. The unique landscape of the islands exhibit a crosshatch of thousands of miles of stone walls and visitors flock to the islands to enjoy the cliff-top walks and spectacular coastal scenery. The islands are also home to more than 430 different varieties of wild flowers and plants making them popular with botanists.

Next was The Cliffs of Moore, one of Ireland's most visited tourist attractions. Over 700 feet tall at their highest point, the shale and sandstone cliffs drop almost vertically to the Atlantic ocean far below. From the top there are views, on a clear day - namely not today - to the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Maum Turk and Twelve Bens mountains in Connemara to the north. The grass roofed Visitor Centre is set into the hillside and offers an all weather experience! We visited the Atlantic Edge Exhibition which really brought to life the story of the Cliffs of Moher. There are themed zones of Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man that present the setting, geology, wildlife and human stories associated with the cliffs.

By 5pm we had driven over 300km, arriving at the main town in the Connemara region Clifden, the most western part of Ireland. Connemara's got some breathtaking landscape, it's a mixture of unspoilt rivers, lakes, woodlands, rich meadowlands, rugged hills, dramatic mountains and stunning coastline of sandy beaches and crystal blue waters (I wont tell you about the smell in places though, that would destroy the lovely picture you have in your head). Connemara is a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) area, rich in Irish culture, heritage and traditions. It has lots of quirky shops, restaurants and traditional Irish pubs to explore.

We went into the first pub we found looking for accomodation, were shown a lovely room on the third floor and immediately dumped our bags to head off to the local pub, Guy's. We had a great meal, mine just chips & salad with Apple Crumble, though the meals here are made for fred flintstone! It went down well with the Australian wine I was served and Irish folk music in the background played by a trio.

We are now walking home to listen to another Irish band before retiring, big day of sightseeing tomorrow....

Update - We happened to be invited to a private party in the pub downstairs of our accommodation. It was for a French man's 50th, he visited Dublin in his youth falling ion love with the culture. Over the years he visited many times taking the muso's back to France for Irish cultural events. This grew in popularity and many Irish and French visited each others towns due to his interest. There were many talented musicians, a world champion pipest and some guys that had been around the world playing their tunes. It was an awesome night with both traditional and modern Irish music. I took some video and will see if at some stage I can upload it, it's a real toe tapper!



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