Farewell to the west

The first one, a 200 meter high wall facing the Atlantic Sea. The second, an old castle. Both of them popular and worth a visit: Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle.

When Joe and I last visited the Cliffs of Moher, there was only one big parking lot and gravelly paths around O’Brian’s Tower and along the cliff edge. Now there is parking on both sides of the highway, souvenir shops, restaurant, toilets and a visitor center here. Fortunately, it is fairly integrated in the nature, kind of looking like a small Hobbiton.

PK is a little disappointed. It is not windy enough! Joe and I have told him about the strong winds we experienced here last time. How people were rolling around on the grass out of control, caught in the wind tunnels that swirl up from the rocks. Quite amusing actually.
Today the sun is shining and the sea is calm. We just shake our heads – Wow!
We take our time, taking pictures, pulling out the binoculars, studying all the birds that sit on the rock pillar in the sea below us. They are a little too far away for me to see them clearly, but the rock is nearly covered in puffins. I’d like to see one of them up close!

We walk around the tower, which sits alone above the rock cliffs. It was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien as a lookout point for tourists of that time. O’Brien said that tourism would benefit the local population and bring them out of poverty.

We enter the new tourist center. Here, they have a 3D show of the cliffs and the life here. We follow a seagull high and low, and are taken “under the sea”. We see dolphins, various fish, seaweed and rock formations. The area really has a diversity worth preserving.

The car is nice and warm when we take our seats again. The whole day I have been thinking about this store that should be in the local area. I just cannot remember what was there. I do remember that there might be something of interest for my parents.

It is not so far down the road, it turns out. The Story of Liscannor Stone. Stone it was! Lots of great products in stone, in addition to blankets, music, incense, etc. There is also a cafe here.
– Fancy a cup of coffee? Tea and coffee are on the table, and we drop into the chairs. That feels good.

I want to keep the feeling I get being here in this part of the country. Soon we will drive towards Limerick and away from the sea. Below us I see wide sandy beaches and this particular part of Liscannor Rd towards Lehinch is incredibly charming. Wouldn’t it be nice to rent a house here for a little while? Stroll along the beach, with the sun and wind. Climb up along the cliffs and explore the karsk countryside of The Burren.
I already long to be back.

Bunratty Castle.  As we see it today it is estimated to have been erected in approx. 1425. Of course, the castle is now restored and polished and invites you to catch a glimpse of life in a medieval time.
I fall in love with the ceiling in one of the towers. A little too dark and heavy for me to have in my own house, but there is something about it though. Exotic in a way that I imagine could be seen far away in the East.

We climb up and down the narrow stairs and peek into rooms that suddenly reveal themselves. The old furnishings in the rooms are as they believe it was like back then. We look out of the narrow windows, and once up on the roof, we see the river Shannon.

Outside there is more to see. The park around the castle consists of old houses and cottages. It works like a mix of museum and amusement for the whole family. Shops, cafes, rooms to peek in and an Irish wolfhound (some might wonder if you can ride them – after all it is one of the largest dog breeds there is).

In the late afternoon we decide it is dinner time. Outside the castle, there is a pub said to be the oldest in Ireland. Durty Nelly’s (don’t they all say that?). We find a table outside in the sun. Irish stew goes down well while we study the crows picking up the little bags of… mayonnaise from the pots on the table!

A few hours later we are at the Maldron Hotel on the south side of Limerick. Relaxing and preparing for a party at a local nearby. We’re celebrating with Joe’s mother, and although this is an 80-year birthday celebration, it will be lively! Soon, we dance, we drink and we talk. At the end of the night, the birthday child herself is one of the last to leave. It is almost two o’clock in the morning when we are all thrown out.

One funny thing: A woman and a man entertain most of the evening. She has a beautiful voice, and Mom and PK are excited by all the great old hits that are played. They are constantly out on the dance floor. At the very end of the night, they suddenly see that everyone around them stands still, facing the artists. Everyone rises and sings the national anthem.
That is the very end. Everybody happy. So are we.

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