Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 5: The Cliffs of Moher

After visiting the Mini Cliffs of Moher at the start of Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour, we finally made our way to the destination I had been waiting for the whole trip: The ACTUAL Cliffs of Moher!!!

As our bus was parking, my feet were itching to get out and start exploring!!! I had such high expectations from pictures I’d seen, that I was hoping not to be disappointed. But then again, how could I be?! The moment we stepped on the stairs that led to the views of the Cliffs around us, I was mesmerized, not to mention the weather was some of the most intense I’d ever experienced in my life!

The view speaks for itself!

“Standing 214m (702 feet) at their highest point they stretch for 8 kilometres (5 miles) along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland. From the Cliffs of Moher on a clear day one can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry. O’Brien’s Tower stands near the highest point and has served as a viewing point for visitors for hundreds of years.” – Check out the Cliffs of Moher website for more on this spectacular location. 

O’Brien’s Tower

Fortunately for us, entrance to the Cliffs was included in our Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Tour. If you are travelling alone, you can buy your tickets online or in person at the cliffs themselves. Ticket prices are €6.00 for an Adult and €4.00 if you are a Student! If you want to go up to the top of O’Brien’s Tower it is an additional €2.00 for an Adult. Although we didn’t do this, it is definitely a reason to go back and see the Cliffs again. The prices are reasonable for the sights you are going to be seeing.

The Promenade and the Cliffs in the Distance!

The Cliffs of Moher website states that if you are driving and planning to visit during peak season, it is advisable to avoid the hours of 11am – 3pm, as this is when it is most crowded. Plan you trip ahead of time so you can make sure you get the best of it!

Also, WEAR LAYERS! I suppose it would depend on the season you are going to visit but, when we visited in September, layers were definitely needed! We experienced rain, very VERY high winds, and gorgeous sunshine all in one day. This weather just added to the dramatic experience of the Cliffs overall!

Remember come dressed appropriately!!!

Even the countryside surrounding the Cliffs was amazing

When we arrived, we were so stunned to see the views that we literally couldn’t stop taking photos. The landscape is truly awe inspiring in its grandeur. We could barely pull ourselves away from the breathtaking vistas. At first, we climbed the promenade stairs up to O’Brien’s Tower. The tower itself is like a little castle. It was built as an observation tower for the hundreds of visitors that came through the area each year. As stated above, we didn’t go see the views from the top of the tower but we will definitely do so next time ;).

Getting closer to O’Brien’s Tower! Notice the viewing deck on top!

The Cliffs have an extensive history created by wind, waves and a little bit of Irish Legend. As with Giant’s Causeway, there are a number of legends linked to the Cliffs. After reading through them, my favourite would have to be about the Mermaid of Moher.

The Legend goes as such:

“There once was a local man who saw a mermaid while fishing from the Cliffs of Moher. He engaged her in conversation and while they were speaking together he noticed, lying on a nearby rock, her magic cloak.  This cloak she needed to wear to be able to return to sea. Seeing an opportunity to capture the mermaid, he grabbed the cloak and ran off to his house, where he hid the magical garment.

She followed him to his house to get the cloak back but it was well hidden. She agreed to marry the fisherman and they had a son and daughter. But one day some years later, while her husband was fishing out at sea, she found her cloak. He came home to find her gone, returned to the sea and he and his children never saw her again.”

This is only one of the Legends associated with this area. Maybe if you look out onto the water, you can spot the Mermaid wearing her cloak! If you want to read some of the other Legends you can do so here.

Light and Shadow – What an amazing sight!

Besides the fact that the Cliffs have Legends attached to them, they are also so famous that they are featured in many movies! If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, you may or may not know that the Cliffs were the site for a specific scene from the Half Blood Prince movie. The scene in particular is when Harry and Dumbledore enter a cave to find the Horcrux! Yes, that cave was in the Cliffs of Moher! Also, if you love the Princess Bride, the Cliffs of Moher were the Cliffs of Insanity in that movie! There are many, many more movies that feature the Cliffs and it’s no wonder why!

No matter where you stand, there is a picture opportunity…

After viewing O’Brien’s Tower, we went back down and started heading towards the Cliffs themselves, of course snapping about 100 more photos on the way! Walking on, we reached a fork in the road!

Do Not Pass?! Of course we won’t…ahrm!

The safe or the adventurous way! In true Irish fashion, and because the path wasn’t blocked :P, we decided to live on the edge, literally, and boy, was it worth it!!!

And that’s how close to the edge we went!

The pathway just continues onward!

The views were spectacular…I didn’t want to leave!! We continued down the unobstructed pathway and ended up getting really close to the edge to take same amazing photos of the promenade area we had been at earlier with O’Brien’s Tower.

O’Brien’s Tower in the distance

The ocean views are stunning! I bet it would be just as amazing viewing the Cliffs from the ocean, as it is from walking on them. You can actually get a guided tour, in addition to a cruise from sea level! You can book this when you purchase your tickets and I bet this would be a once in a lifetime experience! Another reason for us to come back for a visit ;).

Endless Sky. Endless Ocean. Reflections abound!

If you continue to walk along to the southernmost tip of the Cliffs, apparently you reach the Hag’s Head. At this location is the Moher Tower, which is the ruin of an old watchtower.

“The human story and history of the Cliffs of Moher dates back at least two thousand years as the name derives from a 1st Century BC fort that stood where Moher Tower now stands. The old Irish word “Mothar” means ruined fort and it is this that gives the cliffs their name.”

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to walk all the way to the southernmost tip, so we didn’t get to see the Moher Tower. We walked long enough that we could take some amazing shots and absorb the wonder of what was before us but we DEFINITELY have to go back and explore more!

Can you spot Moher Tower?!

After noticing that our time was running out, sadly, we started to walk back along our perilous path, but couldn’t resist taking some silly pictures along the way.

Who knew you could capture the tower between your fingers?!

Goofing around!

Walking back, we also made some new friends…

Moo!

It’s crazy how on one side of the Cliffs, there are cows grazing and then the other leads to some of the most amazing scenery in Ireland!

It’s insane how blue the sky is, when just a couple minutes before it was overcast!

I would have to say that the Cliffs of Moher were probably my favourite part of the trip to Ireland. As I said earlier, I had high expectations and they were so completely met. I loved the wind, rain and sun. I loved the mist and the clouds and the mystery that these Cliffs offer their visitors!

The Cliffs of Moher truly did capture our hearts with their mystery and magic!

Go Visit the Cliffs everyone!!!

Sadly, we had to leave the Cliffs behind us but we weren’t leaving County Clare without a little bit of Irish dance and authentic Irish music!!!

Stay tuned to find out how that went!

Ioana and Natalie
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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 5: Shopping in Galway

After an amazing day spent on Inis Mór, we were sad to be leaving Galway and the Aran Islands on Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker tour! Ireland continued to amaze us more and more each day we travelled! Luckily for us, we had a late start the morning following our trip to Inis Mór and could spend a bit of time leisurely exploring the streets of Galway.

Eyre Square

I am so glad that we got to actually explore the city! Galway is truly an amazing place full of character, where old world meets new world charm. Galway is situated in the West of Ireland and lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. It is in the province of Connacht and is surrounded by County Galway. It is also the fourth most populous urban area in the Republic of Ireland! Not only this but Galway is what they call a University Town. If you’ve ever visited a University Town, you’ll know it is full of energy, excitement and always buzzing, probably because of all the youth populating the area :).

A splendid morning to be roaming around Galway!

Dave (our guide) had already told us that we should use this morning to go shopping for our Claddagh rings (more to come on that) and also to grab a lunch before we hit our main destination for the day.

Kegs, kegs and more kegs! Just sitting outside for another fun pub-filled day!

After eating breakfast at one of the best hostels we had that trip, Kinlay Hostel, we set out to buy lunch before we went shopping. After much deliberation, we got Subway and headed out for a much needed exploration of Galway.

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I was glad we could get a better look at Eyre Square that lovely morning. As usual, and obviously because we had somehow gotten the Luck of the Irish (probably that rainbow we saw 😉 ) we got sunshine following us around!

Eyre Square is an inner-city public park. Clearly bustling already so early in the morning, it was obvious school had started and everyone was about.  As we walked around, we got to take a look at some of the art pieces around the square and learn a bit about its history. We were told the flags in the square represent the original 14 Tribes of Galway. These are the 14 families who dominated the political, commercial and social life of the city between the 13th century and late 19th centuries. They are memorialized here in the centre square for all to remember!

The Flags of the 14 Tribes

Next, we noticed a piece of a wall enclosed in plexiglass. Of course being the architectural nerd that I am, I immediately wanted to learn more. Apparently, this fragmented piece of building is known as the Browne Doorway. This is the ground floor doorway and 1st floor window that came from the Mansion of Dominic Browne and his wife Maria Lynch dated 1627. It is a fine example of Renaissance of Architecture and was moved to the square in 1905. It had previously been used as a Gate into Eyre Square but since then, on the 300th anniversary of the Square, had been enclosed in plexiglass for protection.

Browne Doorway

If you want more information regarding Eyre Square’s history, you can learn more here or here.

History of Browne Doorway

After getting our fill of Eyre Square, we decided to move into the flattering shopping/food district of Galway. Only now do I realize this colourfully beautiful part of the city is called the Latin Quarter and that it is “where Galway comes alive”! We had been to several pubs the 2 nights before and had seen the bustling pub night life. But it certainly looks different in the daylight and during the day it was just as mesmerizing! It was the epitome of old world meets new world charm!

Latin Quarter full of shops and places to eat!

Clearly this city is known for its Claddagh ring history. We were determined to find ourselves the best fitted Claddagh rings for our personalities. There are many different designs that you can choose – based on what suits you best, but the story behind the ring stays the same!

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish symbol of love that was/is given as an engagement ring or pre-engagement ring. Nowadays the ring can be worn whether you are single, engaged or married. There are a variety of legends related to the rings’ origins – this particular one tells of:

“A Prince who fell in love with a common maid. To convince her father his feelings were genuine and he had no intentions of “using” the girl, he designed a ring with hands representing friendship, a crown representing loyalty, and a heart representing love. He proposed to the maid with this ring, and after the father heard the explanation of the symbolism of the ring, he gave his blessing.”

Of course, that is my favourite story but the legend probably closest to historical truth can be read here.

Jewelry Stores all over the place!

The Ring itself was designed in a fashion to illustrate friendship, loyalty and love, all of which should be present in a romantic relationship! There is a specific way the ring should be worn:

  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.

So! If you do decide to purchase a Claddagh ring when in Galway, be sure to wear it based on your relationship status ;), or you may find a Irish fellow looking to change the direction of the heart!

 

Of course, we had to go into a dozen stores before we found the perfect one in which to find our Claddagh rings. McCarthy’s Jewellery store was the perfect and most affordable place to get a ring!

Obviously the Claddagh ring has been commercialized to the point that almost every store carries a version or another, but not all are of the same quality. If you want an affordable (especially if you are travelling on a budget) and good quality ring, McCarthy’s is the place to go! The store was tiny and offered some of the prettiest and most appropriate Irish designed jewellery I had seen on the trip. I personally couldn’t decide which ring Claddagh ring I wanted, so I opted for a ring made of Celtic Knots to remind me of my trip to Ireland!

My Irish Knot Ring (that I now wear everyday)

Prices are affordable at around 15-30 € and are of 0.925 sterling silver! I’ve worn my ring everyday since the trip and am glad to say that it’s still in the same shape, which speaks to its quality! So, if you want a to take a little piece of Galway home, don’t hesitate in purchasing either a Claddagh ring or some other jewellery piece before you go!


Our morning flew by and having successfully purchased our rings and some souvenirs, before we knew it, we had to return to the Hostel, meet our group, and set out on our next adventure!

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We were sad to leave Galway 😦

Natalie mentioned in her last post that we were leaving our tour guide Dave this day as well and this is a feature of the tour. Because we had more than one type of tour on our bus (5 day and 7 day), we were now leaving behind the 5 day group and merging with another group who was either on a 3 day or 5 day tour.

It was disconcerting to say the least and strange to invade the bus of another group! This was probably my least favourite part of the tour because we had already formed groups and so had the people on the other tours! It’s definitely difficult to connect with another group when you had already done things and seen sights they might not have seen and vice versa! Even so, our new tour guide Gillian was great and definitely made the transition smoother than it might have gone otherwise!

It seemed to be a pattern that every locale we left behind in Ireland made us sad to leave. Galway was no exception. Leaving the bustling town behind, we got on our new tour bus and headed towards our next and one of my favourite, if not my favourite, sites in all of Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher!!

On our way to the Cliffs of Moher!

Stay tuned to see the sheer massiveness and beauty of these cliffs!

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!