Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 5: The Mini Cliffs of Moher!

Leaving Galway behind, I was extremely excited to be finally getting to the Cliffs of Moher on Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour! This was probably the most anticipated part of the tour for me! Driving along, Ireland didn’t disappoint – giving us some beautiful views of the countryside.

Proof that Ireland is actually all green!

Getting closer to the Cliffs, our tour guide Gillian said we would be making a small stop before arriving at our destination. I honestly didn’t want another stop, I wanted to get to the Cliffs! But, after stopping and seeing what we saw, I’m glad we took the time!

We stopped at what is known as the “Mini Cliffs of Moher!”

Mood Setting Scenery

The landscape here was already changing and there were more rocky surfaces rather than arable farmland!

Similar to the Aran Islands, rocky surfaces are evident here

Clearly this rocky land would make for some beautiful scenery and Mini Cliffs!

People started building with the rocks!

If you are on your way to the Cliffs, do make a stop here and you won’t be disappointed.

Rock, Water, Sunshine!

The area is not as touristy and if you are lucky, you may or may not be the only people here taking pictures and enjoying the scenery.

Enjoying the View

 

From the Mini Cliffs you also get a teasing glance at the actual Cliffs in the distance!

Can you spot the Cliffs?

We spent some time taking photographs and enjoying the sunshine while exploring some of the rocky landscape.

Nothing better than a picture on the edge of a cliff

After having our fill of selfies and scenic photographs, Gillian rounded us all up and we climbed back aboard our bus and onto our final destination:

THE CLIFFS OF MOHER!!!

Stay tuned!

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 4: Dun Aonghasa

Day 4 began with a biking adventure for me and a horseback riding adventure for Ioana! We would be reunited for our next stop – Dún Aonghasa. This popular tourist attraction is a stone fort, that sits at the top of a 300 ft cliff! Archaeologists believe this site has been inhabited since 1500BC.

Whilst we were walking to the Worm Hole, we were able to catch a glimpse of Dún Aonghasa off in the distance.

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Can you spot Dún Aonghasa? Toward the right side of the photograph, on top of a cliff!

Pretty incredible!

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After the Worm Hole, we continued on our bikes to Kilmurvey Village. Here, we purchased tickets to visit Dún Aonghasa.

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We left our bikes behind in the village and continued up to the cliff and Dún Aonghasa on foot. It was a climb but the views at the top were definitely worth it! We would definitely recommend a visit to Dún Aonghasa if you are exploring Inis Mór. If biking doesn’t appeal to you, you can also find your way to Dún Aonghasa via mini-bus or pony and cart.

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Check out this view – looking out over the south coast of Inis Mór, including the Worm Hole!

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Look at that vertical drop, straight into the Atlantic Ocean!

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We even spotted a friend!

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I love cliffs – but secretly I’m a bit scared of heights! But the chance to sit at the edge of a cliff looking out at the Atlantic Ocean was just too tempting to pass up. So here I am!

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It IS a long way down from up here!

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And, of course, there had to be a selfie to document this moment – sitting at the edge of a 300 ft cliff with your best friend!

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After a couple more selfies and more cliff photographs, we had to start our journey back! We didn’t want to miss our ferry back to the mainland! (Dave told us we were scheduled to be on the last ferry back to the mainland, so if we missed it, we would be spending the night on our own here – not that it would be such a terrible thing!) So we walked down from Dún Aonghasa, hopped on our bikes and headed back to Kilronan Village.

Note: This island is not a flat island! There are hills to cycle up, so expect a bit of a workout! But going the other way, the hills become great fun to cruise down – with the wind whipping through your hair!

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The beautiful views did not end with the cliffs – check this out!

We had some time to spare, so we ventured into the Aran Sweater Market. The Aran islands are also famous for the Aran Sweaters – wool sweaters that were designed to keep generations of locals warm and dry in this harsh environment, by the Atlantic Ocean. The Aran Sweater Market had some gorgeous scarves and sweaters here. Being a bit of a knitter myself, I bought some beautiful Aran wool to make myself a souvenir to remember this trip by! Check out my next post for more on my project!

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And finally, after an exciting day, it was time to leave this breathtaking island behind. We boarded the ferry and headed back to Galway.

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Review: We were very lucky to have such spectacular weather for our day here. I can imagine the island would be vastly different if it was raining or if there was a storm. We definitely would not be able to get right to the edge of the cliffs and rocks – an errant wave might sweep us away! We had an amazing day visiting Inis Mór – definitely one of the highlights of our entire Ireland trip. 

We would definitely recommend a visit here, if you are in Ireland. If you have some time, consider staying overnight at one of the hotels, bed & breakfasts, campsites or hostels located on this island. I’m sure the sunsets (or sunrises!) would be a sight to behold! It would also give you more time to roam the island – on foot, on horseback or on a bike. We only visited the eastern and southern parts of the island on our day trip. But if you had more time, you could wander slowly all over Inis Mór, enjoying the spectacular views and getting to know the locals.  You might even consider venturing out to the other two Aran Islands!

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After our epic adventures, we were famished! There are many, MANY options for food in Galway. It wasn’t an easy decision to make and we kept changing our minds as we walked up and down High Street. Eventually we settled on one (The King’s Head) and most of us ended up ordering the Fish and Chips!

Since we were in Ireland, we couldn’t miss out on Irish Dancing! So a bunch of us asked our tour guide, Dave, where we could try out Irish Dancing. He told us to check out Monroe’s Tavern – they had Irish set dancing that night (Tuesdays). So after grabbing our now-very-late-dinner, we headed over, thinking we would be late for the dancing! Our trip mates had gone ahead to the Tavern and when we ran into them on the streets of Galway, they said there didn’t seem to be any dancing that night. It was really too bad – but it just means we’ll have to come back to Galway for our turn on the stage!

We wandered back to High Street in search of the rest of our group. We ended up at The Quays, where we grabbed a couple of drinks, tables and got settled in for the night! This was our last day with our tour guide Dave. To our surprise, we found out that our tour consisted of people on a 5-day tour and those of us on a 7-day tour. Dave was heading back to Dublin with those on the 5-day, while we were continuing on with our next guide – Gillian. It was a good night – story telling, sharing adventures, laughs, licking strangers’ faces as a means of introduction… Don’t ask! After a round of late night/early morning hugs, we wandered back to the hostel.

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Those of us on the 7-day tour had the luxury of a later start on Day 5. This gave us a chance to explore Galway during the daytime! While looking for a place to eat this evening, we saw that Galway had many neat, small stores that we wanted to venture into! Dave also told us that Galway is the city to get our Claddagh Rings. So tune in to our post on shopping in Galway for more about the Claddagh Rings!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 4: Inis Mór Adventures!

Day 4 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour brings us to The Aran Islands. Located on west coast of Ireland, the islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr take you back in time and immerse you into the traditional Irish way of life. The Aran Islands are also an official Gaeltacht area, meaning Irish or Gaelic is the predominant language here. Many residents do speak English – particularly on Inis Mór, which attracts plenty of tourists yearly – including us!

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After a fun night out in Galway, we woke up nice and early to eat breakfast at the hostel and headed out to buy a bagged lunch for today. As we would be spending the day roaming around Inis Mór, Dave (our tour guide) had suggested for us to take along a lunch. We were careful not to be late – as the bus to the ferry will not wait for us! Once everyone gathered, we followed Dave to the bus stop. A double decker bus was waiting to connect us to ferry terminal at Ros a’ Mhíl. This was not a private bus for our tour, so members of the public could also take it to connect to the ferry terminal. The websites here and here has more details – including shuttle bus stops, schedules and the connecting ferries. I believe Lally Tours run the shuttle buses for both of these companies. This shuttle bus took us along a scenic coastal route from Galway city centre to the ferry terminal, making a couple of stops to pick up passengers along the way.

Once we got to the ferry terminal, we boarded the Aran Island Ferries and got settled in for our journey to Inis Mór. We were so lucky with the weather! (We think it was that rainbow we saw the day before!) Our adventures, particularly today, would not have been as spectacular if it was pouring rain or if there was a storm brewing. And we probably wouldn’t have been able to make it to the cliffs due to safety reasons – as you’ll soon see!

After a smooth ferry ride (where we may or may not have taken a nap…), we arrived at our destination – the beautiful island of Inis Mór! The ferry dropped us off at the pier in the main village of Kilronan. Dave then gave us some options for our day: we could hang out around the main village; hire a bike and follow Dave on a tour of the island; or hire a horse and wagon to take you around! I went with the bike option, while Ioana went horseback riding! Check out Ioana’s adventures here!

The beautiful bay on our arrival

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There was a group of maybe 20 of us who went with the bike option. After we got sorted with our bikes, we took off after Dave and headed away from the village of Kilronan. It was the perfect day for a bike ride – the skies were blue, it was relatively warm and there was a nice breeze to cool us off in between stops! And the scenery was just gorgeous. It was hard to keep my eyes on the road, while trying to admire the gorgeous coastline and the beautiful emerald green fields divided by stone walls.

Our first stop was the Seal Colony. Alas, we did not see any seals but we did get a great view of the crashing waves and the rugged coastline. After a quick break, we were off again!

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Our next stop was a beautiful beach – Kilmurvey Beach. This beautiful, sheltered, white sand beach is indeed in Ireland! Who would have thought Ireland had white sand beaches! Look at that gorgeous water! We took a bit of a longer break here – just enjoying the views, grabbing a bite of our lunches and trying out hurling  – one of Ireland’s native games.

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Our next stop was an exciting one! We were headed to the “Poll na bPéist” or the Worm Hole on the south side of Inis Mór! You’ll see why this was such an epic stop soon enough… We rode our bikes as close as we could and then walked the rest of the way there, roaming over grass and stepping on rocks and boulders. Look at this incredible landscape! Can you spot Dún Aonghasa there in the distance?

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I was so excited to see the cliffs and the coast. I also quickly saw that if the weather had been stormy, it might not be a great idea to be clambering over these rocks or walking so close to the edge, where an errant wave might pull you into the Atlantic! Having said that… I have a thing for crashing waves and the ocean – I just find it so breathtaking and calming at the same time. I must have taken hundreds of photos of the waves here… Here are just a select few – so I don’t bore you all to sleep! But they are pretty cool photographs, if I do say so myself!

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And then there is this rocky landscape to take in. It is incredible to think of the geology of the land and also the sheer force of nature that shaped these islands thousands of years ago, and continues to shape this land now, with its wind, waves and water.

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More crashing waves…

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One of my favourites! Glistening water, gorgeous sunshine, the perfect rolling wave and the infinite ocean stretching out to the horizon! Breathtaking!

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And finally – the Worm Hole. This rectangular pool, 100% made by nature, is carved into the rocky landscape. The water levels of this “pool” changes depending on the waves crashing over the rocks and into the pool AND the water coming into and out of the pool from underneath the rocks. Besides being a cool product of Mother Nature, its other claim to fame is hosting the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition, not once – but twice.

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I had never heard of this competition before and I naively thought it was just… jumping from a ridiculous height into this Worm Hole. I had no idea, Cliff Diving actually meant diving (from a ridiculous height) – like competitive Olympic type diving, until I saw this video. I felt a little sick while watching the video, just thinking someone was going to have a misstep and get injured! Thankfully they were all professionals and there were some incredible dives in there!

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We were told very explicitly that if we wanted to jump in, we were doing so at our own risk. There was also the fact that there was probably poor cell phone coverage there and if you needed medical assistance, you’d probably be waiting a long while! I love swimming and I love the water and I love the waves, but there was no way I would be jumping in!! As you can see below… someone on our tour did jump in.

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With this exciting adventure over, it was time to head back to our bikes. But I couldn’t leave without taking one last photograph:

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Review: If you are here on a Shamrocker tour, I would definitely recommend following your guide on a bike tour. You get to hang out with your trip mates, do some exploring and go on an epic adventure with your new travel buddies!

If you are here on your own, hiring a bike and slowly making your way around the island is also a great idea! You can get a map of the island and follow the roads and paths to leisurely explore Inis Mór on your own. Being on your own allows you to take as long as you want along the way – stop wherever you want for photographs, stay as long as you want at the beach and explore the cliffs to your heart’s content. 

Our next stop was: Dún Aonghasa – a stone fort on a 300 ft cliff. You just know the views here will be epic! Stay tuned for more!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 4: Inis Mór on Horseback!

Day 4 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour brings us to The Aran Islands. Located on west coast of Ireland, the islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr take you back in time and immerse you into the traditional Irish way of life. The Aran Islands are also an official Gaeltacht area, meaning Irish or Gaelic is the predominant language here. Many residents do speak English – particularly on Inis Mór, which attracts plenty of tourists yearly – including us!

~~~~~

After a fun night out in Galway, we woke up nice and early to eat breakfast at the hostel and headed out to buy a bagged lunch for the day. As we would be spending the day roaming around Inis Mór, Dave (our tour guide) had suggested for us to take along a lunch. We were careful not to be late – as the bus to the ferry will not wait for us! Once everyone gathered, we followed Dave to the bus stop. A double decker bus was waiting to connect us to ferry terminal at Ros a’ Mhíl. This was not a private bus for our tour, so members of the public could also take it to connect to the ferry terminal. The websites here and here have more details – including shuttle bus stops, schedules and the connecting ferries. I believe Lally Tours run the shuttle buses for both of these companies. This shuttle bus took us along a scenic coastal route from Galway city centre to the ferry terminal, making a couple of stops to pick up passengers along the way.

Once we got to the ferry terminal, we boarded the Aran Island Ferries and got settled in for our journey to Inis Mór. We were so lucky with the weather! (We think it was that rainbow we saw the day before!) Our adventures, particularly today, would not have been as spectacular if it was pouring rain or there was a storm brewing. And we probably wouldn’t have been able to make it to the cliffs due to safety reasons – as you’ll soon see!

After a smooth ferry ride (where I can’t remember a thing since I tend to fall asleep on any moving mode of transportation), we arrived at our destination – the beautiful island of Inis Mór! The ferry dropped us off at the pier in the main village of Kilronan. Dave then gave us some options for our day: you could hang out around the main village; hire a bike and follow Dave on a tour of the island; or hire a horse and wagon to take you around! Natalie went with the bike option, while I went horseback riding! For Natalie’s bike adventures, click here!

The beautiful Bay on our arrival

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Sadly for me, I had never properly learned to bike so that wasn’t an option for the day! Luckily enough, there were some tour mates that also didn’t want to do the biking option and instead we opted to do something a little bit different.

Dave had told us there was the option of exploring the island by horse and wagon! Although that sounded rather appealing, one of our new friends suggested to actually go horseback riding! I had never been horse back riding but, for one reason or another, it seemed less daunting than a bike! Our friend got in contact with the person who schedules Aran Island Horseback Riding and programmed us to go for a ride that afternoon. I was extremely excited seeing as this was something I had never done before and did I mention I love animals!!!

If you want more info about how to go on your own Inis Mór horseback riding adventure visit Aran Island Horseback Riding’s Facebook page here!

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Ruins of a Church as we walked to our destination

Walking along, we got some beautiful views of the island, as well as some of the ruins that remain from times passed. Once we reached the house where our guide lived, I was even more entranced by Inis Mór. It’s exactly the type of entry to a house I’d love to own!

Entrance to Aran Island Horseback Riding

After meeting our guide and discussing our levels of experience with horseback riding, we each got a lovely horse. Mine was named Lady and she was the most mellow of the bunch =P!

As we were mounting, we could already see the beautiful views from our guide’s house. I could definitely get used to seeing this every single day!

View from our guide’s home

Our guide walked us around the island and showed us some of its spectacular untouched scenery and glorious beaches. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to record the names but if you do the Horseback Riding tour you will definitely view some of these untouched sites yourself!

Beautiful beach on our ride

Inis Mór and the other two Aran Islands are mostly made up of limestone rock consisting of clints and grikes. This makes for a spectacular landscape, in addition to the dry stone walls that are all around the island! Our guide told us the walls were constructed to separate land for farming and is still used as such today!

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Moving along, we got some photo opportunities on the beautiful beaches and I even attempted a gallop on my lovely horse Lady. She was a tad lazy and we never actually did come to a slow gallop, but it was fun nonetheless! The colours of the water and the beaches themselves were beautiful (something I hadn’t expected to see in Ireland) and it was great to get so up close and personal with some of the more hidden parts of Inis Mór.

Lady and I posing

Photo Opportunity on the Beach!

We came to learn that the island only has about 840 inhabitants and of course everybody is keenly aware of everybody else! With so much land, the raising of animals is the main occupation on the island, along with the famous production of Aran Wool, which Natalie will talk about in another post! As we trotted along, we got to see more of our guide’s land and met some of his other horses and animals! The scenery continued to be spectacular and of course the fact that it was sunny made the island look even more stunning.

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There are several abandoned houses on the Island making the scenery even more interesting (I sure want this one!)

Lady continued to be a lovely companion and walked slowly enough for me to snap a few pictures of her and the beautiful landscape around me!

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Beautiful Water and Landscape surrounding us

Our horseback adventure was slowly coming to an end and I was sad it couldn’t last longer! It was such a great experience to view the island from this perspective and I was very grateful that my new friend Marissa suggested we do this! As our horses climbed the hill back to our guide’s home, we had to say goodbye and hope we could come back again soon!

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Our Horses taking a well deserved break

I’d definitely recommend this experience if you are visiting the Aran Islands! If you are staying on the island, you can do both this and biking! It is a bit off the beaten path and you can view some sights you may not know to see if you were biking around! I definitely enjoyed it and would do it again!!!

Sunshine, Water, Warmth – what more could we have wanted?!

Our next stop would be: Dún Aonghasa – a stone fort on a 300 ft cliff. You just know the views here will be epic! Stay tuned for more!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!