My husband had wanted to visit Ireland for years. We recently spotted a new service flying to Ireland from Providence with Norwegian Air and decided to go for it. Summer temperatures rarely get into the 70’s in the summer so this would be a respite for me from New England’s summer. Jon longed to see the limestone karst areas of the Burren, which has some pretty rugged landscape. I hungered for time near the ocean, with opportunities to find Easy Walks. We found a perfect spot to spend a week in Ballyvaughan, County Clare, but were unable to get into the house rental till the day after we arrived.
And so we headed out from Shannon airport, driving on the left side, stick-shifting opposite to what we know in the US. We quickly discovered how very narrow the roads of Western Ireland are. Spanish Point offered a way station for us, and we were lucky enough to find Lahiff’s Bay View Guest House open and more than willing to give us a place to nap when we arrived late morning after our all night flight.
An hour’s nap restored our energy and we set out for the sandy beach just down the road.
Amazing rocks jutted out from the sand, offering a very different feel from any beaches I’d ever visited. A small stream poured into the ocean across the beach area.
Later in the day we headed just a mile or so north of where we were staying to a spot with cliffs overlooking the ocean. Grassy paths followed the edge of the cliff, offering easy walking and stunning views.
Birds flew underneath us at the edge of the water, picking at something on the shore. On closer inspection we realized the remains of a dolphin had washed onto the rocks, and the birds were doing their best to clean anything edible off the bones.
Later in the day we returned to this same spot to take in the sunset. We’d enjoyed this sight on the Florida gulf coast, but never from this east side of the Atlantic.
Our hosts keep cattle in the fields right behind their guest house, offering an idyllic view out our room’s window. I said something about how the cows had the best scenery, but our host, Noel, replied, “You wouldn’t think that come October, when the storms are lashing the windows and the fog is so thick you can’t see anything.”
In late summer, the views were stunning, and we could have spent an entire week right there, walking the foot paths along the cliffs. But for this visit, it was simply an overnight stay. After enjoying a traditional hot Irish breakfast, the full Irish–eggs, ham, sausage, tomato, and blood pudding–we were on our way to the Burren for the week.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com