We started our morning with breakfast at our B&B, Keenogue House. This B&B was great and very accommodating considering our late night arrival after our Northern Ireland adventures the previous day. They provided a delicious Irish breakfast by a beautiful bay window that looked out to their stables and greenhouses; it was also nice to look out and see the Border collie at work since I was currently missing mine.
After breakfast we shuffled back into our rental car and set out for the western side of the island. It was about a 3 hour drive from Julianstown to Galway and it was a pretty peaceful drive full of lush, green countryside.
Once we arrived in Galway, we checked in to our new B&B for the next two nights – Roncallli House. This was another great B&B with friendly hosts that welcomed us and gave us an idea of things to do in the area. Our room was a very nice size and we were surprised to see that we had a view of the water in the distance.
From our B&B we then headed to our next destination: The Cliffs of Moher. This had been one of the sites I was most excited and anxious to see since we decided to visit Ireland. The trip to the cliffs was approximately an hour and a half traveling along the west coast. The road was constantly curving and narrow – not the easiest to navigate. The drive was very eye-catching as it spanned through an area called The Burren, which is composed of rolling hills of limestone. We also passed a few castles along the way and got many great views of the water and countryside.
After the winding road stretched higher and higher, we finally made it to the top of the large hill with the visitor center for the cliffs. We parked and began walking – at this point we still couldn’t really see anything resembling the Cliffs of Moher, but as we walked closer to where all of the other people were looking, we could hear traditional Irish music being played by a street musician. The music grew louder as we approached the cliffs, and suddenly we were looking out over the ocean from a height of about 200 meters – it was absolutely astonishing.
Around the visitor center, there was a wall about chest high – as seen in the pictures above. As we walked along the cliffs, though, we came to a warning sign telling us that we were leaving the safer area. Past the sign, the only thing separating us from the cliffs themselves was a hip-high stone wall – which Kelsey of course insisted on climbing over immediately. Eventually I did follow him over, but I wasn’t there for long!
Just north of the visitor center is a small tower, seen below, called O’Brien’s Tower. Built in 1835, the tower doesn’t actually have the storied history you come to expect from Irish castles. In fact, it was built by the landowner at the time just as a place for tourists to have a view of the cliffs. It cost us two Euro apiece, and the view was definitely worth it. However, if we thought it was windy at ground level, it was nothing compared to the wind tunnel going on at the top of the tower.
Overall the cliffs, though they made me feel small, they also made me very excited to get to live in a country that offered such beautiful natural treasures. The pictures truly don’t do them justice – there is nothing like standing over the lapping waves far below, hearing the constant surf, and feeling the sea air blowing in your face. Even with a large crowd everywhere along the paths, it was one of the most peaceful and cathartic places I have ever been – but standing near the edge was also amazingly thrilling. There’s a reason the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous natural landmarks on the planet.
After the cliffs, we made our way back down the winding road to Galway. We stopped back at our B&B, got ready for dinner and then walked from there to Quay Street (pronounced “key” street). Quay street is the notable main street full of nightlife and entertainment in Galway. Our walk there was about a mile from our B&B. There we ate some quick dinner at a small doner kebab place (doner is Turkish shaved meat, very popular in a lot of European countries) and grabbed some pints at a local pub.
After Quay street we explored the main drag a little, and we stopped at a pub by the Claddagh called Salt House. We had heard they had the “best double IPA in Ireland” and some in the group wanted to try it but, unfortunately, they were out of that beer. However, nobody had any trouble finding something they loved – and we even saw some beers on tap from back home. I myself had a Belgian lambic beer that is now one of my favorites – Lindemann’s Cassis. The atmosphere at the Salt House was lively and fun and the people were inviting and genuinely interested in what brought us to the country.
The Salt House sits on the River Corrib as it enters the mouth of Galway Bay. When the river runs under the bridge the salt in it collects at the base of the bridge and collects to form a sort of foamy layer – you can see this collection of foam in some of the pictures below. It was a cool and unexpected sight.
After that last pint we headed back to our B&B to get some rest for a busy day in Connemara.