The Emerald Isle. What a gorgeous, friendly country!
A while ago, I was lucky enough to visit for a weekend to see a friend I met on my travels in Australia. That’s one of my favourite things about travelling, meeting new people from all over the world! We kept in touch and me and a friend went to spend a rainy weekend with him. He was the perfect host, acting as a tour guide/chef/b&b owner and tried his best to show us the highlights of his local area in the short time we were there.
We flew to Shannon airport from Manchester late on the Friday night. The plane ended up being delayed by about 45 minutes and was possibly the last to leave that evening. That left more time for us to drink frozen margaritas! Not always a good idea to get pissed before a flight! When we stepped out to get on the plane, it was a tiny plane that seated about 40ish people. I get a bit nervous on some flights these days and this tiny plane definitely ramped up my nerves! Luckily, the flight was fine and we landed in Shannon around midnight. This was the first and only time I’ve ever flown just with hand luggage and it was lovely to be able to walk straight out the airport!
The next day we were full on tourists! Our host lived in the town of Ennis in County Clare which happens to be close to many tourist spots and is home to some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery. After a full on fry up, we set off on our day of being tourists! The first place we stopped was at the house that was used as Father Ted’s house in the TV show. The house is known as Glanquin house and is actually a private residence. It belongs to the McCormack family. You can, however, book to visit the house and have afternoon tea. They offer tours of the farm as well.
Next we drove through the Burren National Park, stopping at several sites along the way. Burren comes from the Irish word Boireann which means great rock. This is apt as the Burren is a karst landscape and the smallest national park in Ireland at 15 square km. Many of Ireland’s plant and flower species are found within the Burren, making it a spectacularly beautiful part of the world.
We also stopped at a couple of beaches along our coastal drive. These were also beautiful. Rugged but beautiful. Our host was telling us how he often comes surfing or walks his dog along the beaches. Or he sometimes just goes to sit and chill for a while. He’s so lucky to live that close to the lovely coast of Western Ireland!
Our next stop was one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. I will admit that I had never even heard of it before we visited! They are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction and are 214m tall. At their highest point is O’Briens tower which you can pay a couple of euros to go up for a slightly different view. The cliffs stretch for 5 miles along the coast of Ireland and are part of several coastal walks, We didn’t do any walks but I would imagine they are pretty stunning!
I was very surprised by the beauty of the cliffs. They are very impressive to see! At the southern end is Hag’s Head which looks like a seated lady when viewed from the north. The visitors centre is about midway along the cliffs which is where O’Brien’s Tower is located. A quick Google search has informed me that Cliffs of Moher translates as The Cliffs of the Ruined fort. Apparently there was a fort along these cliffs around 1 BC named Moher Tower but this tower no longer exists today.
When we first arrived, the visitor’s centre is environmentally friendly so is built into the hillside and covered with grass. It looks a bit like a hobbit town! Also, at the visitors centre, they celebrate a traditional Irish surname each week and the week we visited it was my mum’s maiden name so it was nice to find out a bit about it!
The cliffs have been used as a location for many films including one of the Harry Potter films and The Princess Bride! This was turning into a film and TV location tour!
Our final stop on the tourist trail for the day was the pretty seaside town of Lahinch. It’s a colourful town and is popular with surfers. You can rent all the gear at the beach. The weather was cold and miserable when we visited and it was starting to get dark but there were still several hardcore guys out in the sea. In fact, it was quite peaceful to sit on the wall, watching the waves and the surfers.
When we got back to Danny’s house, we had tea and got ready for a night out in Ennis! Ennis isn’t a big city like Dublin or Cork but I was still surprised at how busy it was and the range of pubs/bars/clubs. There’s a much better selection than my local town! This was where I first discovered Tinder and had fun choosing girls for Danny on it! I had a really good night and loved meeting lots of Irish blokes and generally listening to them speak! I always have a holiday song and Galway Girl became the Ireland song after this night! It came on several times that night and everyone just went mad! Before our night out, I only knew a few words to it but now I think I know pretty much all of them!
One of the funniest things I saw was the poster pictured above. It was on a wall in one of the pubs we visited and it just cracked me up! I had to take a photo! Being English and not really caring too much for football, I found it hilarious!
Our first day in Ireland was a cracker! It ended with chips at 2 in the morning before passing out in a drunken state in bed!! I’d fallen in love with Ireland and the Irish! They certainly know how to have fun! I just remember hoping I wasn’t too ill in the morning to stop me being a tourist again!
Have you been to Ireland? Where did you visit?