Loop Head Peninsula. County Clare

We awoke to yet another beautiful morning and devoured the Irish breakfast served at Sea Crest Farmhouse. With a happy tummy, we started our day and headed south on N67. As we crossed the stone arched bridge into the village of Doonbeg, we decided to stretch our legs and explore the area. A dog and his master out for a morning stroll, the swans swimming in the river… It was quite tranquil.

Loop Head

Loop Head peninsula has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other, with barely a mile of land saving it from island status. In 2013, Loop Head was named the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland” by The Irish Times – Wikipedia

Traveling the Loop Head peninsula was breathtaking, and we stopped numerous times to take in the scenery and the fresh Irish air. Walking on the grass in this area was like walking on a cloud; another sign that Ireland is a little slice of heaven.

The geology of this area was impressive. Take notice in the images as to how the layers of land appear almost chaotic and slope in at different angles, sometimes jetting towards the sky.

Over a period of 7.5 million years (318.5 – 311 million years ago) a huge river system carried sand and clay out to sea where it was deposited in a succession of vast sheets to form a large submarine fan delta just off the coast of the continent. Due to pressure and heat caused by subsequent layers of sand and mud, the sediments turned into hard rock which was later pushed up above present-day sea level by many movements of the earth’s plates. For most of the following 300 million years, Ireland was above sea level and subjected to weathering which stripped away a lot of its rock mantle, including most of the coal deposits formed in the Carboniferous period. ~www.loophead.ie 

Bishop’s Island

This unique sea stack was separated from the mainland over the last thousand years. What makes this site unique is that there are the remains of a church, a clochaun (beehive hut) and the ruins of 3-4 other buildings on the piece of land. This monastic settlement is possible connected to St. Senan or his followers who founded a prominent monastery at Scattery on the opposite side of Loop Head in the 6th century. ~wildatlanticway.omeka.net

Kilkee Cliff Walk

Kilkee Cliff Walk is a 2.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland that features beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips.  ~ www.alltrails.com

Bridges of Ross

The Bridges of Ross were a trio of spectacular natural sea arches – at least until two of them fell into the sea. Today, even though only one ‘bridge’ remains, the name persists in the plural. The Bridge of Ross lies on the western side of the natural harbor that is Ross Bay, looking north to the Atlantic Ocean, near the village of Kilbaha. It can’t be seen from the road, but it’s not difficult to find. Head due west (left) from the Bridges of Ross car park and walk for a few hundred meters along the footpath. (Be careful to keep close to the fence, as there have been recent landfalls over the water.) The area is regarded as one of the best sea-watching sites in Europe. In late summer and autumn, it becomes a birder’s paradise as thousands of rare seabirds pass close to shore on their southbound migration – www.loophead.ie

Thanks for joining Dan and I as we traveled this beautiful area of Ireland! I hope this finds you all well; sending peace and love to everyone.

Click HERE to see Dan’s blog post of this area. See you at our next stop.

 

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

I have to agree with Dan when he said, “The food at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn was divine. Prior to the main course, the chef brought out a sample of his parsnip puree; absolutely scrumptious. Vaughan’s Fish and Chips dinner consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter served with homemade tartar sauce, chips that were steamed, then fried in beef drippings and Pea Puree….Wow! One of the best fish and chips we had experienced on our trip.

After a wonderful meal, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. The visitor center closed, and all the tour buses had left for the night so there were not many people around.  We did manage a lengthy hike before the sun set under the horizon; first to O’Brien’s Tower and then back South along Burren Way. The path was easy, and it was shaping up to be a beautiful evening. We made our way south on foot towards a site where we could take in the sunset with O’Brien’s’ Tower in the background.

We were serenaded by the wind as it hit the fence along the path much in a way that a lover would play music in the night under the window of his loved one.

At the end of the 16th to early 19th centuries, young nobles would embark on grand tours of Europe and Irish travel journals around the time of 1780 give many descriptions of the beauty of County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher. Cornelius O’Brien (1782–1857), a descendant of the first High King of Ireland, made many improvements to the area which included the construction of a tower that was erected in 1835 (now referred to as O’Brien’s tower).  He believed that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy and to this day, he was right!

Situated in County Clare along the wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher have majestically faced the Atlantic for over 350 million years and their beauty is incomparable. The cliffs reach 214m (702 feet) in height at their highest point; the sheer scale and their dramatic impact never ceases to amaze and will delight in equal measure. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction; when you visit, you will understand why. – cliffsofmoher.ie

I would highly recommend a visit to Ireland’s top tourist attraction, the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher Walk

Click here to see Dan’s images from that area.

Ballynahinch Castle, Ireland

A little after the sun disappeared below the horizon, we packed up the car and headed to our stop for the night, Ballynahinch Castle.

Ballynahinch Castle is a former Irish country house and estate, built on the site of a former castle, which is now a luxury hotel set in a private estate in the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. It is one of Ireland’s finest luxury hotels and is located on a private 700 acre estate of woodland and rivers. The castle overlooks the hotel’s famous salmon fishery with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain Range. We had a relaxing night and woke early enough to take in the sunrise and explore the grounds.

It is mentioned on the hotel’s website, “a visit to the Owenmore Restaurant is a treat for the senses”. I can attest, there was a tremendous buffet which left us completely satisfied for the day. If in the area, I would highly recommend a stay! Ballynahinch Castle.com 

We followed the coastline and stopped many times to stretch our legs. Of course, we ran into beautiful scenery and friendly critters. We even found some Leprechaun poo on the beach 😉 Ok, ok… The piles found in the sand were Lugworm casts.

Our next stop was to explore the Cliffs of Moher. We were close to the area and decided to stop to find a Bed & Breakfast for the night. The owners of Sea Crest Farmhouse were extremely friendly and had given us recommendations for visiting Cliffs of Moher plus mentioned a few good restaurants. We had a wonderful supper at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn. Their Fish and Chips consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter, chips steamed then fried in Beef Drippings with homemade tartar sauce and Pea Puree.  Wow!  I would agree with Dan when he said, “One of the best fish and chips I experienced on our trip”.

Click here to view Dan’s post on Ballynahinch Castle.

See you at our next adventure, Cliff of Moher.

 

River Glen, County Donegal

From Donegal Town, we traveled to Carrick and on through Teelin.  Our goal for this day was to explore the sixth highest sea cliffs in all of Europe; an area known as Slieve League.

The River Glen flowing through Carrick was quite picturesque. I could envision the faerie folk frolicking near the water’s edge.  Closer to Teelin the river widens as it flows towards the coast and fishing boats rested at low tide along the riverbanks. This birthday, April 18th, was unlike any other and it turned out to be so memorable that I remember the serenity of the day perfectly.

See you at Slieve League!

The Town of Donegal and Donegal Castle

On our next leg of the journey, we explored the area between Dunlewey and the town of Donegal. We stayed close to the coast and followed N56, traveling through Dungloe, Lettermacaward and Bogagh on our way to our next B & B, Ardlenagh View B&B, which was a short distance from the town of Donegal. We stayed our third night and started our fourth day in Irelend in this wonderful town. After and good night sleep and fulfilling breakfast, we toured the Donegal Castle and stopped in a few of the local shops. Everyone we ran into so far on this trip was welcoming and extremely friendly.

Donegal Castle is a castle situated in the centre of Donegal Town in County Donegal in Ulster, Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings lay in ruins, but the castle was almost fully restored in the early 1990s.

The castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the River Eske, near the mouth of Donegal Bay, and is surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep. Most of the stonework was constructed from locally sourced limestone with some sandstone. The castle was the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries.

This was a fun filled day and one of the most memorable birthdays thus far! See you at our next stop.

A Beautiful Morning with the Giant

Dan and I had already experienced so much and this, our third day, did not disappoint. We woke up early and drove to our next area on our must see attractions in Ireland. We parked the car and walked the road down to take in this beautiful site… The Giants Causeway. It was a beautiful morning and we had the area to ourselves. The rock formations and basalt columns in this area were formed over 60 million years ago by volcanic activity. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or even eight sides and tallest columns are roughly 39 ft high. While I know the interlocking columns were formed as the result of ancient volcanic activity, but I prefer the story of legend.

The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than he is. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa.

We didn’t not have much time to explore as we needed to move on to our next location. We will definitely be back as there is so much more to see and hike. Some of the best-known sights include, but are not limited to, the Harp, the Organ, the Wishing Chair or Throne, the Chimney Stacks, and the Camel, who served as Finn McCool’s horse. Can you spot the Chimney in the background of some of the images?

An Irish Sunset #DiscoverNI

After a nice supper, Dan and I headed back to meet Brian, our wonderful host, at Kilmail Country Chalet. Brain had offered to take us to an overlook to watch the sunset and we graciously accepted.  We would have never experienced the wonder of this place without him. Our first stop was Downhill Beach. We proceeded to drive onto the beach and headed closer towards the Mussenden Temple where one could see the train coming from or going to Coleraine passing through the mountain tunnel.

Downhill Beach is used in the filming of Game of Thrones as Dragonstone, where the Seven Idols of Westeros were burned and Melisandre, as flames dancing into the night sky, proclaimed: “For the night is dark and full of terrors.”

From Downhill Strand, we traveled along a twisting road (The Bishops Road) to higher ground to take in the sunset. This location, Binevenagh Mountain, was very much off the beaten path and not on our itinerary.  We were lucky to have Brian there who shared countless facts and history about these places. The mountain also holds another gem, a statue of a Celtic sea god, Manannan Mac Lir. In the tales, he is said to own a boat named Scuabtuinne (“wave sweeper”), a sea-borne chariot drawn by the horse Enbarr (“water foam”), a powerful sword named Fragarach (“the answerer”), and a cloak of invisibility (féth fíada). He is seen as the ruler and guardian of the Otherworld.

I will be introducing you to giants on our next stop! See you soon.