Choosing to go to Ireland in August is choosing to join 50,000 of your best friends when you visit the Cliffs of Moher. We read that if you wait till after 4PM you will have fewer fellow travelers on the trail, but of course this was read in hindsight. There are additional access points besides the visitor’s center in Doolin, and the cliffs do go on for miles and miles, but the easiest walking is near the visitor’s center.
We found paved walkways, railings, and even piped-in off-key accordions playing traditional Irish tunes as we walked the edge of the cliffs.
The views are amazing, but the trails beyond the established paved path felt less comfortable for me who has balance issues. It is truly a long way down…
Once we left the mayhem of thirty tour buses, gift shops, and (thankfully) bathrooms, we found an additional parking area just south of the visitor’s center, where we paid the farmer to park, then walked up a wide farm track to the cliffs.
We met many fewer folks on this section and got great views of the rocks of the cliffs.
Swallows soared along the edge of the cliffs, flying wiht remarkable grace despite the strong air currents that buffet the cliff. Sadly (for me) the puffins who nest in this area have headed out to sea by August. We’ll have to return sometime in April or early summer if we want to enjoy seeing the puffins nesting amongst the cliffs.
Doolin has a harbor where one can catch boats out to view the Cliffs of Moher. Boats also ferry visitors to the Aran islands. While the boat ride to the first island, Inisheer, takes only fifteen minutes, the entire trip, including a circuit underneath the cliffs, is four hours.
Once on land at the smallest, but closest of the Aran islands, we were met by horse drawn carriages, or a choice of three different bicycle rental kiosks. Bathrooms were a little more challenging to locate. We were advised that everyone uses the bathrooms of the local pubs. The roads of the island (at least where we walked) were paved, and nearly free of cars or trucks. The island has some steep climbs up to an old ruin, which provided great views of the island and the surrounding sea
We were blessed with one of the few bright sunny days that Ireland experiences.
In fact, we both got sunburns! Lunch was served at a picnic table at a bed and breakfast on the island. For such a small place there were a number of choices of where to eat.
After two and a half hours allotted for exploring, we boarded the ferry for the return to Doolin Harbor. Some got off at the harbor, but most of us remained for the additional tour underneath the Cliffs of Moher. The boats are required to keep back from the shore, and in the end we probably saw more of the cliffs from the top than from on board the boat.
A small public beach (well, shore–it’s all limestone!) is directly across from Doolin Harbor.
We ventured across the rocks until it became too challenging for me.
My husband went ahead while I sat and enjoyed the sights. A dolphin appeared quite near the boats of the harbor–no pictures, just a simple reminder of the wonder of what lives just below the surface of the waves.
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