Mafia connections, the Emerald Isle and a Highland Fling travel blog

Sunset jogger at Spanish Point - not Grae

Another charming thatched cottage

Friary at Askeaton

Proof we both attend church

Catching the sun in a peaceful cloister

The towering Cliffs of Moher abruptly fall into the Atlantic

Dan posing on the Cliffs of Moher trail

Upright flagstones prevent walkers getting close to the sheer drop

Hoping for a better offer at the Matchmakers - festival is next...

We've come to realise that driving in Ireland it isn't too long before you come across some amazing ruin in a farmer's field in the middle of nowhere. This time it was Carrigogunnell Castle which the band U2 used on the album The Unforgettable Fire except Mother Nature seems to be reclaiming this ruin as it was covered in ivy. We haven't heard any U2 played at any of the traditional music sessions nor any Sinead O'connor.

At Askeaton we toured the very atmospheric 1389-built Franciscan friary. Anthony Sheehy, a lovely elderly man filled us in on the many amazing stories associated with this place and showed us all the notable carvings and inscriptions.

We spent the night at Milltown Mallbay which was a favoured resort town for well-to-do Victorians, but is two kilometres from the beach at Spanish Point. We didn't have the exact address for our accommodation and knocked on the Garda Station (Police Station) door instead, the local policeman who actually lives next door assured us there was no B&B at the station. It was however across the road. Our host, Brid's walls were plastered with pictures of Irish traditional musicians and she proudly explained that her family had played a big part in keeping piping alive in Ireland. While the town is supposed to have a thriving music scene, sadly they must have had the night off.

Earlier in the evening we visited Spanish Point for great views of the sunset. We learnt that lots of Spanish Armada ships were wrecked nearby and the survivors were executed here back in 1588. We on the otherhand had a lovely dinner opposite the beach at Coast Lodge. I had the Salmon Salad and Grae had Irish Stew, both of which were made from locally sourced produce.

The next morning Brid was suprised to hear that we couldn't find any live music. Anyway she made us an enormous breakfast, Grae had the Full Irish and I had huge pancakes. Don't want to think about how many calories we ate.

At least we didn't have to wait too long to start walking them off as we headed for the Cliffs of Moher trailhead. The cliffs run for about 14 kilometres. At their southern end, they rise 120 metres above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and, eight kilometres to the north, they reach their maximum height of 214 metres. Each time Grae took a photo he'd get me to stand very close to the edge, why?

The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and the Atlantic was calm and flat. Crazy to think that the cliffs are closed during severe storms and that the waves break over the top. That would be amazing to witness, if a little scary.

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