Cliffs of Moher on a blustery day!
Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
191Trip End Ongoing
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What a beautiful day! I checked the weather report, because I’d been told that if there’s fog you can’t see a thing. (Reminiscent of my 3am drive up to Haleakula in March…) But it was perfect- there was even sunshine on the coast!
We started our day with a guided walk through the Burren on O’Connoly’s farm. In addition to homemade pies served in their Granny’s kitchen, (they sold the last cherry brownie to the Swiss girl in front of me. I was not happy) they raise calves on the farm and we got to say hello to a few of the residents along with Coco, the very cute King Spaniel. The Burren, or Place of Rock in Gaelic, is a UNESCO site that was created 350 million years ago
When the farmers cleared the land of rocks for the fields, they piled them to create walls that divide the property lines. The rocks are called dry stone walls because they are erected without any mortar or cement. Standing in the Burren, you can also see stone walls climbing the mountains. These actually serve no practical purpose
During our hike we pass a strange tree, covered with strips of fabric and other mementos. They call it the Fairy Tree. While the Irish are very Catholic, they still have strong Pagan traditions. The fairies were believed to be life-size creatures with very pale skin. They fought a battle (can’t remember against whom…) and lost. As a result they were condemned to live forever underground. Legend has it that if you tie your troubles to the tree the fairies will take them away for you. Until Christianity was brought to Ireland, Gaelic was solely an oral language, so many stories about the area’s history are explained in this manner.
On this clear day from the top of the hill, you can see Galway Bay, the coast of Connemara and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. On the coast there is a small castle, called Martello Castle. The design comes from Corsica and the name means hammer. The British worried that Napoleon might invade England by way of Ireland, so they built the castle for protection, but he attack never arrived. Further inland you can see the ruins of the Kirkenrow Abbey, built 800 years ago. Towards the south you can see the Seven Churches of Uhmama. Only three were ever completed, but seven is a magical number according to Celtic tradition, so the name stuck. Also integral to Celtic tradition is the interlacing lines that adorn jewelry and signposts. It is a symbol of the continuity of life.
On our way to the Cliffs we pass through the village of Lisdoonvarna
We arrive at the Cliffs and are greeted by sunshine and stunning views. People have told me the the west coast of Ireland is similar to the northern California coast, and I can now see why. The wild surf, the high cliffs and the black rocks below look like just the views you get driving down Highway One. The Cliffs of Moher are 650 feet tall and five miles long and it’s only 3,000 kilometers west to North America. Atop the highest point sits O’Brians’ Tower. It was built in 1535 as an observation point and still functions as that today. I didn’t make it inside- it looked closed, but the views from the pathway were just beautiful. It was really cold and the wind could almost sweep you off your feet, so I kept clear of the edge. The only thing that could have made it better would be a rainbow and a pot of gold.