Friday, May 15, 2015

Cliffs of Moher & Limerick, Ireland

Cliff's of Moher, March 2015

 Early Saturday morning, we woke up to an authentic Irish Breakfast, black and white pudding, whiskey bacon, and all! We stuffed our faces full and headed off to drive across the Irish country side to the Cliffs of Moher. 
Driving from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher is about 3.5 hours. 2 hours on a Highway, and about 1.5 on little back roads that feel like you're driving in the middle of the road.

Pigging out on his Irish Breakfast
Luckily Drew's pretty much a pro at driving on the opposite side of the road, I think he's come a long way from semi-knowing how to drive a manual car when we first got to Germany, to being a pro at driving a manual car, on the left side of the road.
Visiting the Cliff's has always been on our travel bucket list. I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that it is on nearly everyone's bucket list.
The GPS didn't have an exact address for it, so instead we just typed in County Clare, and from there followed the signs to the cliffs, which are actually very easy to find.

The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair) is located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O'Brien's Tower, eight kilometres to the north. From the cliffs and from atop the tower, visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head to the south. The cliffs rank among the top visited tourist sites in Ireland and receive almost one million visitors a year!
Ireland's Country side

There is only one parking lot, although we did see a lot of people parking on the side of the road and then walking up to the cliffs, but I wouldn't suggest it. The roads are mini two lane highways and with the tour buses coming and going I wouldn't have chanced it. Instead we followed the signs and cars to the parking lot, and paid the entrance fee to get in. I believe it was 8 euros a person, it's cheaper for the kids, I think it's under 16 is a cheaper price.

The cliff's were amazing. There is a bunch of gift stores and even a TI place where you can get your own information about the Cliffs, but we just looked at the map and followed the crowds of people. From the parking lot the Cliff's split off you could either go North towards the O'Brien's Tower, or South towards the Hag's Head. We decided to go south first, come back and have some lunch (sandwiches' and tea provided by Auntie Mai), then check out O'Brien's Tower.

That's a long way down

We spent the whole day there. I would suggest going early because there is so much to do. Bring walking shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking. My friend Rick Steves also suggests going early, not only do you beat the crowds, but also because of the ocean. When we arrived in the morning the sky was clear and we spent majority of our time taking pictures because it was so beautiful. By the time we got to O'Brien's Tower, the sky had become cloudy, the waves were crashing up against the cliff's and you could hardly see anything!

I don't think this place is stroller friendly or even kid friendly. Majority of the time there aren't any barriers! They stop maybe a 1/4 mile in and the signs start that say to walk at your own risk!
People have died here. When the winds are strong they close the cliffs off to visitors. I think it's mostly because people are Stupid.

O'Brien's Tower

It was a great day. We got to breath in some fresh air. Enjoy another beautiful thing that nature created. Before heading out we stopped off to look at the little shops, they had things from CD's to clothing, to jewelry! I even got Drew an authentic Celtic Ring :) He's so hard to shop for, he never wants anything, so when he shows any interest in wanting anything I'm all about getting it for him and saying that it's a future present. Haha.

Drew being a lot more brave than I was....................... This was about as close as I was willing to get.

After spending the day there, we were ready to head back to Dublin. But first, we decided to take a pit stop in Limerick to see King John's Castle. Unfortunately, the castle was closed, so we were only able to get pictures of the old city of Limerick and the exterior of the castle. It was still nice to see. It is impressive that so many Irish Castles remain in such great condition. The drive from Dublin to the Cliffs offered views of a handful of castles that could be seen from the highway. Each was equally impressive.
He insists on taking these pictures everywhere we find a cannon. 

"Look! A Teanna size cannon!" -Drew

This is the Bishop's Palace, and the Freemason Masonic Hall of Limerick

The Gate House (on left) was once part of the original fortress wall.

King John's Castle
A view of King John's Castle (right side), the Gate House (middle), and the bell tower of the Bishop's Palace (left side)

The River Shannon
Limerick was such a picturesque city.

Ireland is littered with quaint and adorable little houses like this one.

Saint Mary's Cathedral

By the time we made it back to Dublin, Mai had another Irish Meal waiting for us, this time it was a Authentic Corned Beef Dinner with cabbage, and potatoes! (YUM!!) Drew's mom made the joke, "when we were younger, we used to call her Mai. After she went off to culinary school, we started calling her GourMAI"! It was a suiting joke because everything Mai cooked/baked was fantastic and cooked perfectly. She really spoiled us! (Thanks, Mai!)

If you ever get the chance to go to Dublin try to squeeze in the Cliff's of Moher. We rented a car specifically to get to the cliff's, if you're just staying in Dublin I wouldn't even bother with the rental car, taxi's are the way to go! They are much cheaper than taxi's in other European cities. But if you have the time and the Cliff's are on your list, I cannot stress enough that you NEED to GO!!