The Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands

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Despite the crowds,the Cliffs of Moher do not disappoint

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.

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Paved walkways allow for easy walking, as long as you are prepared to share the walk with many other visitors, at least in August.

We found paved walkways, railings, and even piped-in off-key accordions playing traditional Irish tunes as we walked the edge of the cliffs.

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As if you needed a better view…there is a stone tower quite near the visitor’s center for even better views

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…

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Many birds find a safe haven in clefts of rock underneath the cliffs

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.

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On a quieter section of 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.

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Many, many stone walls enclose the hilly pastureland of Inisheer

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. DSC03045.JPGThe island has some steep climbs up to an old ruin, which provided great views of the island and the surrounding sea

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Castle ruins on Inisheer

We were blessed with one of the few bright sunny days that Ireland experiences.

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From Inisheer, the mainland is right behind me–the ferry ride is quite short–at least in good weather, which we were lucky enough to have for this trip

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.

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On board the ferry–yes, I love boats!

A small public beach (well, shore–it’s all limestone!) is directly across from Doolin Harbor.

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Doolin Harbor, the rocky shore “beach” is right across the way

We ventured across the rocks until it became too challenging for me.

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We saw many of these birds on the trip–the footing was easy for him, but not for me here

My husband went ahead while I sat and enjoyed the sights. DSC03195.JPGA 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.

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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

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

http://tinyurl.com/MTH-More-easy-walks

 

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4 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

4 responses to “The Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands

  1. One of the prettiest fiddle tunes is Inisheet

    • marjorie561

      nOt familiar with this,but I know there are many, many tunes that take the name of local spots throughout Ireland. Inisheer is a truly beautiful spot.

  2. Where else did you go, Marjorie? This looks wonderful. What do you now think would be a better time to go to Ireland?

    • marjorie561

      Pat, we stayed in one place specifically to reduce the stress of travel for me. so we really explored deeply in Co. Clare,with forays of only a few miles from where we were staying. Truly a limited perspective of a complex island. I”m not sure there is a ‘better” time to go than when we went–we chose to go then because there was relatively less rainfall in that area of Ireland in the summer. (The EAstern section of the island has almost half as much rain annually as the west.) Every other time of the year is wetter than the summer–and of course, it is when most people visit! I wrote about 5 other posts on my website previous to this post that detail other aspects of this trip. The only thing left to write about is our visit to paid venues (mostly we spent time outdoors hiking, no charge!) oNe particularly rainy day we stayed indoors by visiting a local commercial cave, as well as under cover as we watched a local place offer sheep dog demonstrations–fascinating, if not somewhat damp since it was blowing a lot so we still got pretty wet underneath the tent 🙂 OUr last morning before returning from shannon airport we visit Bunratty Castle, just an exit south of Shannon airport, somewhat akin to Colonial Williamsburg or in New England, Sturbridge Village. Lots of reenactments of what life would have been like “in the day.” Admission is charged, but it allowed me loads of walking paths for easy walking prior to a 7 hour flight back home.

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