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Galway and the Cliffs of Moher

Our last day in beautiful Ireland this year was spent on the west coast. MJ had been out there, but it was the first time for me. He’d also driven on the left side of the road before, so when it came to renting a car, he was the driver. That morning we left the hotel early to pick up or lovely BMW rental car and make our way out to Galway!

The drive took about two and a half hours, we found parking and quickly discovered we were in the midst of a city that was extremely excited about the hurling championship game that Galway was playing in. I knew nothing about the game when we walked into The Quays for lunch. I still know very little about it, but we had a lovely lunch with one of MJ’s colleagues and his wife who also happened to be on that side of the country for the weekend. Plus, I got my beloved fresh north Atlantic oysters.

After lunch the sun came out and we walked around town a bit, walking right past Lynch’s Castle (a medieval “town house”) without realizing it as it’s a bank these days. We then walked past a couple of old churches before making our way down to the Spanish Arch and then back to the car. The morning had been rainy in Dublin, but the stunningly blue sky that met us after we saw the arch made me very happy that MJ had checked the weather prior to planning the weekend. It was the perfect day to be on the west side of Ireland. The harbor there in Galway was beautiful.

Thankfully we were able to flee the city before the parties over the hurling game win broke out, and we were on our way to the Cliffs of Moher.

There are two things I’ll say about the roads out there in western Ireland. First, it’s beautiful out there. The countryside is dotted with castles and various ruined towers, livestock grazing in fields that have stone walls (I started calling them “cow castles”), several rivers and lakes, and so much green.

The second thing is that the roads are terrifyingly narrow! I’m not sure it’s a trip I’d repeat soon given how queasy I became as we drove through the countryside. The feeling when a giant tour bus came careening down the road partially in our lane is not one I wish to repeat in the near future. Still, we did stop a few times to soak in the views, especially as we drove up through the hills.

It was late in the afternoon by the time we made it to the Cliffs of Moher. It was worth the narrow road drive, the cliffs are gigantic and amazing! We got there before the clouds rolled in, and while I was walking around taking pictures the fog started to take over for a bit. The day transformed from warm and sunny with clear visibility to cool and damp with fogged over cliffs very quickly. The change completely altered the feel for the place. One moment feeling alive and fresh, the next gloomy and somewhat ominous. I’m grateful we were there to experience the cliffs in both moods.

After seeing the one side, we walked up the other side to look out over in the direction of O’Brien’s Tower. We did venture a bit past the confines of the visitor center grounds, but I had no compulsion to jump any other fences. We also generally kept our general wandering to a minimum, with MJ still walking on his bad foot and my ankle acting up from the sprain I got at Newgrange on Friday. We were quite the pair, but at least we matched.

There were several selfies taken, and MJ got this shot of me as the clouds poured between the cliffs, but my favorite picture was the one MJ took with his phone and didn’t show me until we got home. It’s probably my favorite recent picture of us!

We left for the long drive back to Dublin just as the sun was starting to set. If Ireland hadn’t already made me fall in love with her back in 2010, this drive back would have done it. With every mile through the countryside my heartstrings were pulled as I gazed at the rolling hills we were driving through at dusk. Photos don’t do it justice. Ireland clearly didn’t want us to leave.

More photos from Galway and the cliffs here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157689480206285/

We got back to Dublin just before midnight and had one final meal at Zaytoon before parking the rental for the night, which we’d drop off at the airport on our way home in the morning.

The spoiled American in me would miss some of the food and creature comforts if I ever moved away from the United States, but Ireland is on my short list of places I could see myself living. Every time I visit it feels like I’m going home and my heart sinks every time I leave. Alas, it was time ! Caligula was waiting for me, and I’d been away from San Francisco for nearly a month.