Doolin to Galway Featuring the Cliffs of Moher

Trip Start Apr 12, 2012
Trip End Apr 30, 2012

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Where I stayed
Salthill Hotel Galway
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Ireland  , Western Ireland,
Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's top visitor attractions and are a designated UNESCO Geo Park. The Cliffs are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. O'Brien's Tower stands on a headland
of the majestic Cliffs. The panorama is breathtaking. As usual, the weather was cloudy and drizzly when we arrived, but as we walked along the top of the cliffs the sun began to peak out. It was still quite cold, so going into the cafe for a cup of hot cocoa after our hike really hit the spot.

The Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland. We were able to see this during the boat ride we took to view the cliffs from the bottom instead of the top. On one of the outcroppings there were hundreds of birds perched and nesting along the face of the rocks.

At the time we were there I didn't realize this was a location of Ecotourism, not only for the Cliffs of Moher but also for the Burren area. This has become something that catches my interest since ecotourism was the subject of Logan's thesis. "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people."  Like our US National Parks, it is a Leave No Trace area.

The the visitor's center building has been sunken into the contours of the land and is covered by the grassy hillside. Inside there is a really cool interactive center called The Atlantic Edge. The area is organized into four principal themed areas exploring different elements of the cliffs: Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man. In addition there are a number of shops also built into the hill.

After we viewed the cliffs by land (on top), we took a boat out to view them by sea. It was an entirely different perspective, especially when the sun came out. It was a little rough out on the Atlantic, which didn't agree very well with Julie and Noah, so we lost half of our photography team. For Gary and I it was a wonderful experience, one that was over way too soon.

The person we booked our boat trip with in Doolin suggested a route to Galway different than what Julie had planned. His route took us along the coast, so we decided that would be a more interesting if longer drive. We were right - it was quite spectacular. Along the way we found another castle tucked off the road on the coast. The drive down the tree-lined lane was beautiful.
This is a well-preserved sixteenth-century tower house which stands guard over the northern shoreline of the Burren. It seems like anywhere you go in England and Ireland you will see everything from small ruins with just a few bits of the original building still standing among the grasses and vines to full on towers and castles that have been refurbished. Such a different landscape from the US.

We continued on to Galway, making a few more photo stops along the way. We were lucky enough to see a rainbow out over the water, and got to enjoy it for quite a while during our drive. For dinner that night we went to Lohan's since everyone was in the mood for fish. The food was delicious but the service was the worst we experienced during our entire trip. We expect slow service as that seems to be the European way, but this was downright rude. In fact we were a bit scared to even ask for bread, thinking the waitress might bite our heads off if we asked her to do just a little bit of her job. But, as I said, the food was good, company was good and we were certainly enjoying our Irish holiday, so all was good.

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