Fresh off a red eye flight from Boston at 5:30am, I was off to the Cliffs of Moher with two of my new friends/traveling comrades, and a cheerful local driver. We had some time to kill before we met up with the rest of our tour group, and I thought a private drive to the cliffs would be a good way to jump start the day after the flight. It was a bit of hike to the west coast of County Claire, and the winding country roads were not easy on our stomachs, but we took it all in stride.
The Cliffs of Moher
Walking out to the cliffs, there was a thick blanket of fog hiding the view! I could not see a damn thing. Came all this way, I grumbled, and won’t be seeing the cliffs. Ireland, why are you hiding from me?
One of my friends made a fabulous suggestion. Well, we can’t see the cliffs, but we have other senses don’t we? Okay, well I can:
- Hear: puffin calls
- Smell: ocean air
- Taste: salt
- Feel: dewy mist
Walking outside did us a lot of good, and we wandered around O’Brien’s tower. Cornelius O’Brien built a tower on the cliffs in 1835 to promote tourism and benefit the local economy. We lovingly nicknamed this “Coffee Cup Castle.”
There is evidence of fishing, quarrying, and foraging dating back to the 1st century BC. Tourism became a main focus in the 16th century and grew slowly at first, but steadily over the years. Today, not only are the Cliffs of Moher the second most popular tourist destination in Ireland, they are an important place for wildlife observation.
If you’re interested in visiting the Cliffs of Moher, I would recommend going later in the morning, when the shops are open and the fog has burned off a bit. I’m sure it’s worth the trip (but I wouldn’t know! lol).
Carrick on Shannon
With a bit of breakfast and a cuppa on the road, we made our way to an important marina capital in Ireland: Carrick on Shannon, which lies on the River Shannon. Our tour group was meeting at an Airbnb here, and the first half of the trip felt as though it had officially begun! The evening was spent exploring, dining, and meeting new friends. Check out my photos below!
Cool things to do Carrick on Shannon:
- Costello Chapel
- The second smallest chapel in the world
- Built by Edward Costello in memory of his wife Mary Josephine, who died at 48 years young
- He missed her so much, he had her embalmed and enshrined. 14 years later, he was buried next to her for eternity
- St. Mary’s Catholic Church
- Neo-Gothic Style, built in 1879
- Tegi’s Tearoom
- A hidden gem serving up some serious vintage vibes
- Scenic walks along the River Shannon
- Great shopping and pubs
- Most shops and restaurants are generally open from 10:30-8:00
- The pubs stay open late and offer live trad music regularly