Day 03 - Tuesday, September 11, 2018 - County Clare; Discover the Cliffs of Moher; Irish Music Lesson; Walking Tour of Innis; Enjoy Ireland's Musical Heritage
And a roof for the rain,
And drinks beside the fire -
Laughter to cheer you
And those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire!”
We woke up to a sliver of sunshine and a patch of blue sky. We had a delicious breakfast and then met the group at 9:00 for an hour’s drive to the far western coast and the Cliffs of Moher. The site is the second most visited in Ireland with the first being the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
The temperature was 53 degrees and the humidity was 87%. Every one of our group was on time and loaded down with umbrellas, rain coats, and sun screen; ready for any weather the day could bring.
As we drove west, we noticed the well maintained homes, usually one story, with course white or tan stucco and black slate roofs. The gardens were still very colorful with roses, begonias, sculptured evergreens, and hanging baskets. Many properties had flowering hedges of hydrangea, honeysuckle, or fuchsia.
Tom told us that there was a severe housing shortage especially in the university cities. People pay premium prices for a room or perhaps even sleeping space on a couch. The economy is doing better, but Ireland was hard hit by the latest recession and it is still experienced by most of the population.
The roads were very narrow winding through County Clare. Our driver, Richard, maneuvered our 28-passenger bus cautiously. We learned right away that seat belts were required.
The landscape was green rolling hills dotted with grazing dairy cattle. The small pastures were divided by dry stonewalls. We saw several older homes with the traditional thatched roofs.
When we reached the coast it was raining hard, the wind was brisk, and the temperature had dropped to 48 degrees. Thomas paid the entrance fees and we were free to explore the site on our own.
We headed to the left on the more rugged and less taken path on the cliff overlook. It was not too steep of climb, but the recent rains made the clay soil very slippery. The so-called Cliff Walk was outside the official Cliffs of Moher boundaries, but we climbed over the stone fence and made our way closer to the cliff edge. We had great views of the crashing waves below and O’Brien’s Tower on the pinnacle of the north side of the cliffs.
By the time we got to the top the sun was out but the wind was terrific, gusting from 24 to 29 miles per hour. Granted, that was not hurricane speed, but it made the trek very exhilarating and well worth the effort.
Knowing that we had to meet our group again soon, we walked back to the Visitor’s Center but then we still had time to watch a video about the wildlife of the cliffs and the waters below.
We met the group at 12:15 and walked back to the parking lot. Richard drove us a few miles to a nearby village of Doolin and we all enjoyed lunch at a local pub, McDermott’s. The meal selections were Irish stew or fish and chips, Gennie had the stew and Vic had the fish.
At 2:15 we started back to Ennis and the hotel. Many took advantage of the hour’s ride to nap or to enjoy the scenic ride on those narrow County Clare roads. We had about two hours to review the photos of the day and to catch up on the journal.
At 5:15 we met the group again for a walk around Ennis ending in a stop at Alexander Knox & CO Storehouse Restaurant and Pub. John, the owner of Custy's Traditional Music Shop gave us a lesson in the Trad Music of Ireland and the specialty instruments used to produce these unique and melodic sounds.
We had the pleasure to listen to four young musicians, Maisey, Owen, Eileen, and Stephen, who played an hour’s worth of traditional jigs, reels, slides, and marches for us. We were able to ask them questions about their passion for music and they taught us about the harp, fiddles, flute, tin whistles, and the melodeon or button accordion.
At 7:00 we finished our evening’s entertainment. Several of our groups stayed for dinner and the live music to follow at 7:30. We chose to walk back to our room and post our journal. We took time to get ready for our Optional Adventure for tomorrow, a boat excursion to the Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay.
Accommodations: Temple Gate Hotel - Meals included: B & L
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It was so foggy when we were there we could hardly see the cliffs!
It was rainy when we were at the Cliffs, too! Before that time, though, we had about 10 days of no rain!!! We didn't get to Northern Ireland, and I'm looking forward to your journal about that. We also went to Aran Islands. I'm sure you'll enjoy the trip.
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It sounds like you're having a wonderful adventure. You could send some of that rain to Colorado!
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