16.04.2013 - 16.04.2013 15 °C
We rose today still somewhat bemused at our accommodations but thankful we had a quiet night’s sleep despite being situated right on Kinvara’s Main Street. The main goal today was to see the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s premier natural attractions. After our visit there, Hannah cheekily said “You have to blog on THAT, Mom; good luck! It’s going to be tough doing justice to what we saw today.” With that gauntlet thrown down, I begin my blog with some trepidation.
As Abby is still nursing a bit of the flu, Ben, Hannah and I set off in rare sunshine, which was to remain with us for the rest of the day. It buoyed our spirits and increased our anticipation of what we might be able to see in Ireland on a clear day. Reaching the cliffs took only thirty minutes; the parking lot was fuller than what we have experienced in Ireland; however, we expected quite a few people considering the popularity of the cliffs. Every week, the site chooses an Irish name popular in the County Clare and families with this name get free admittance. This week was 'Collins' week; I tried in vain to convince them 'Koning' was just a derivative of 'Collins.' The Irish have built a large visitors centre there to educate people on the cliff formation and to provide some visuals of the area. It is nicely done but what makes this centre unique is that it has been built all underground so as not to spoil the sense of the place. There are some windows peeking out from under the grass mounds to allow light into the building but it is quite remarkable in its preservation of the site as a natural spot.
The cliffs are a series of green-grassed promontories that drop straight down to the ocean 200 metres below. The walk along the cliff traverses 8 kilometers. While we did not go the whole way, we did spend almost two hours walking along the cliffs, trying to get various perspectives, both from the north and south vantage points. I loved the melding of the colours offered by the vistas: the bright green of the fields, the charcoal of the vertical slate drops and the blue of the ocean below.
From the cliffs, we could see the Aran Islands and beyond that, just a bit too far for the natural eye, lay Newfoundland. As it is home to a large colony of various seabirds, we were hoping for a sight of a puffin or two but all we saw were large flocks of gulls and terns enjoying the wind action off the cliffs.
And speaking of wind, it was something else. If the views didn’t take your breath away, the wind did. The 45 kph wind challenged many of us on the walk and I was glad for the large slate barriers along much of the path. At different points, there were either no barriers or people elected to cross over them anyway, despite the many warnings. We saw more than a few tourists lie down and put their head over the edge to see the ocean waves far below. One young man even sat on the edge, dangling his legs; I guess he felt he had to prove his masculinity. I just shook my head, wishing they would advertise how many visitors die here each year. There was actually a memorial to the people who have lost their lives here, whether due to accident or otherwise. We saw several signs advertising the Samaritan helpline, in an effort to address those planning a jump from the cliffs. Knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about my cautious family members being cliff side, I knew I could relax. But, just when my guard was down, I saw Hannah lying down (albeit in a safer spot than others) and spitting over the edge! When questioned about this behaviour, she explained she did it for Abby, who had asked her to duplicate a desire of one of the characters in Eoin Colfer's The Wishlist (see below). What kids won’t think up to give their parents heart attacks.
We took a longer route back, taking something called The Burren Way, a collection of back roads crossing the Burren. At a distance, it is suggestive of a moonscape, its landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks, mostly limestone. However, up close, one must be able to see the various arctic, alpine and Mediterranean plants that it supports due to its unusual environment. It became a very fun ride, as Ben flew over the narrow curved roads in our rental car. (In the past, he’s explained that it must seem more out of control to the passenger than it really is.) This time, he justified the speed by saying he wanted to get through the area before meeting oncoming cars with whom he’d need to share the very cramped roadway. Hannah fell asleep in the back seat, her antidote to car sickness, and I watched the beautiful and eerily barren landscape fly by.
Supper today was lamb stew but this time, it is full of the previous mentioned hangers-on like carrots, cabbage and leeks. We don’t need to be purists every day. And thus endeth my blog entry. If I didn’t do justice to the cliffs, please see the pictures as they apparently speak a thousand words. Sadly, I expect they don’t make the bar either.
From The Wish List
To have lived a life to the full
A man must have broken every rule,
Slept in a ditch,
Married a witch,
To have lived his life to the full.
To appreciate life as much as you can,
You must kiss the sweetheart of another man,
Spit right over,
The Cliffs of Moher
To appreciate life as much as you can...