Ireland, days 11-12: The Cliffs of Moher and Connemara National Park

For some reason, all of us had failed to realise that this hotel came without breakfast when we did the booking, so the next morning our first stop was the shopping centre close to the hotel where we bought meal deals from Tesco. A pretty decent sandwich, drink and snack for €3 is pretty good value!! I picked up two meal deals… one for breakfast and one for lunch. Jan chose to get his breakfast from the place next door – The Gourmet Tart Co. Then we were on our way.

We stopped at Dunguaire Castle, on the south-eastern shore of Galway Bay for photos. Apparantly this castle is thought to be among the most photographed in Ireland.

Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire Castle
Galway Bay, viewed from beside the castle
Galway Bay, viewed from beside the castle

Opposite the castle, we found a ruined cottage that nature was doing it’s best to take over. Much more interesting to me than yet another castle 😉

OK, the picture doesn't look like much... but inside was cool!
OK, the picture doesn’t look like much… but inside was cool!

Then it was on to the Cliffs of Moher! This is where we encountered the only true unfriendliness of our time in Ireland… pulling into the carpark, we noticed a sign saying it cost €6… which seemed a lot just to park! When we got to the ticket window, the woman told us it would be €6 admission per person! We asked what it would cost just to park and were again told “the admission fee is six euro per person.” Well yes, but what if we just want to park? “The admission fee is six euro per person.” Were we dealing with a robot or what?! After being told a third time that the admission was €6 per person (but not whether it was even possible to just park) we decided to just pay up. We then got leaflets that actually told us what the admission was for (the visitor’s centre mainly). Then finally we were allowed to park and go look at the cliffs!

The Cliffs of Moher "experience"... this is what we payed 6 euros for.
The Cliffs of Moher “experience”… this is what we payed 6 euros for.

The cliffs were definitely just as amazing as I’d been told! If you walk to the right, there’s a little tower (which you have to pay another €2 to climb. HA! As if!) and a field of cows. To the left there are more fields. And, of course, at both sides there are cliffs. We went to the right first, took photos of the view and the tower, and us girls saw a puffin!! jan saw it too, but not clearly enough to see that it really was a puffin so he just has to take our word for it. I know it was 100% a puffin though… I saw its beak!

Cliffs
Cliffs
Cliffs and dandelions... me trying to be "artistic"
Cliffs and dandelions… me trying to be “artistic”
The tower that we did NOT pay €2 to climb...
The tower that we did NOT pay €2 to climb…

Apparantly one of the Harry Potter films was filmed here, but it’s one I haven’t seen so no idea. We were also told a few days later that the Cliffs of Moher were used in the Princess Bride, but I didn’t recognise anything so clearly it’s been tooo long since I last saw that film and I desperately need to watch it again!
Jan, K and I then walked back down to where we’d started and took the path to the left. Once you reach the end of the visitor’s area, there are signs warning you that the cliff walk could be dangerous… there are no fences out there to make sure you don’t fall off! But we were pretty sure we could take care of ourselves,  so out we went 😉

Cliffs of Moher 3

Charlie enjoyed the cliffs too...
Charlie enjoyed the cliffs too…

We had a lovely walk, saw plenty of seagulls and also what may have been more puffins – they were quite far down so it’s difficult to tell. Jan said they were like flying penguins, which is actually a pretty perfect description! Whether what we saw were puffins or some toher black and white sea bird, they were fascinating to watch!

That rock on the very left is where the birds like to nest
That rock on the very left is where the birds like to nest

After walking for quiiite a while, we turned back to find the other two guys and get our lunch from the car. We enjoyed our meal deals sitting outside the visitor’s centre, then went in for a look at the gift shop and exhibition. I bought my grandma a gift, purchased a few postcards and tried to get stamps, but they had sold out (the second place – I’d asked at the gift shop in Adare as well and they also said they’d run out!). The exhibition wasn’t that brilliant – none of the buttons you could press actually worked and there was waaaay too much to read! The wildlife photos that were displayed around the walls were good though.

After leaving the cliffs, we tried to visit Caherconnell Stone Fort, but they were just closing for the day as we arrived (and had also run out of stamps!!) so we moved on to Poulnabrone dolmen, a portaltomb that probably dates back to between 4200 BCE and 2900 BCE. That is old!! The two photos below were taken by Jan as my camera battery had run out on the cliffs…

The dolmen
The dolmen
Some of the cool limestone surrounding the dolmen
Some of the cool limestone surrounding the dolmen

Once we’d finished taking photos of the Dolmen, we got back in the car and drove back to Galway, where we parked in town and went to find food. We had already agreed that tonight would be pie night, so to The Pie Maker we went… and had an amazing meal for only €9!! LESS than the night before and much, much tastier! Here is my pie which has a filling of sausage in veal gravy. Soooo good!

Pie, glorious pie!
Pie, glorious pie!

I took the photo using my friends camera.
And, in case delicious pies aren’t enough to convince you, here’s the ceiling decoration at The Pie Maker:

Inside The Pie Maker
Inside The Pie Maker

If you are ever in Galway, go here!!!! (If you think I’m enthusiastic now, you should have heard us advertising to everyone who came in after us! Some pies had run out after we ordered and she’d put a new batch in the oven, so she was telling people it would be about a 20 minute wait. We were sitting there saying “It’s totally worth the wait! Definitely hang around!!”. Haha). For dessert, Jan, K and I shared the rhubabrb and ginger pie, which was YUM!! I would have loved to trie the pistacio fudge pie, but I couldn’t have managed a whole one so we decided to share and went with one of the “safe” options (too much lactose in a fudge pie).

After our delicious pies, it was off to another pub – Sehan Ua Neachtain. I have no idea what that means or how it’s supposed to be pronounced, but the pub is just fabulous! You go in and it just looks like a small bar, but then round the corner is another seating area, then there’s another bar, and near the toilets are little individual booths where you can sit privately with your group. My words cannot do it justice and unfortunately my camera battery was still dead so no photos. There also seemed to be a decent mix of tourists and locals in there, and they did a decent range of beers as well. I had a local beer (Nimmo’s) and then tried an Irish cider, produced in Cork. After our drinks, we went and picked up the car then drove back to our hotel.

The next day, after picking up our meal deals from Tesco, we drove north of Galway to the Connemara National Park. It was another hinking day, but this time not in the rain.

Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park

We did the blue trail (easy) then the red trail, which involved climbin Diamond Hill…. and in some places it literally was “climbing”… up a staircase of stones! It was a sunny day as well, and I was very glad of my suncream! Annoyingly, the sun kept coming at me from the side and below, rendering my hat useless. Every time the breeze was blocked by part of the hill I thought I might die from the heat, but eventually we made it to the top (“we” being the girls – the three guys had raced on ahead!). The views from the top were worth the climb:

The view from the top
The view from the top – I have no idea why all my pictures are so cloudy… I swear there was sun!!
More of the view... the building you can see across the water is Kylemore Abbey
More of the view… the building you can see across the water is Kylemore Abbey
Of course there had to be a CHarlie photo at the top...
Of course there had to be a CHarlie photo at the top…

We also saw this adorable puppy up there, and the equally as adorable little boy who was accompanying him. (Oh, and there was also an adult with them of course ;-))

Gorgeous puppy!
Gorgeous puppy!

Later, we saw the puppy tied up outside the visitor’s centre crying for his owners. Awww! Naturally I had to go over and give him a stroke.

The visitor’s centre was interesting. We found out that peat had been formed from people burning charcoal for fuel… and that peat itself is now endangered due to its being used as fuel itself!

The guys wanted to go for some more hiking at Killary Harbour, one of only three glacial fjords in Ireland, but I decided I’d already had enough hiking in the sun for one day and K didn’t want to hike up a mountain, so we split up. Jan stayed with us girls, which surprised me as I thought he would have wanted to hike…
We parked the care in Leenaun (also known as Leenane), a village on the shore of Killary Harbour.

The harbour
The harbour – see, I told you there was sun that day!

We had parked the car in the carpark of a hotel (with permission!) and decided to go inside the hotel for a cup of tea. We were told we could sit in the loungee (I wish I’d taken a photo… comfy sofas, old books and a real fireplace!!) and she brough our tea to us… with biscuits! Hob Nobs and Chocolate Digestives! So much better than more hiking! It was nice to just sit, have a cup of tea and chat for a while… and the tea ended up being surprisingly cheap as well! So if you’re in the area and fancy a cuppa, Leenane Hotel is the place to go! (Don’t ask me if the hotel part is any good though… we were only in the lounge!).

Once the rest of our party came back, we drove around for a while trying to get to the shore of a lake but only ending up in the driveways of farmhouses, which I found highl entertaining, so eventually we gave up and drove back to Galway. We parked in the town centre again and went in search of food, deciding that as it was pretty much the end of the holiday we would splurge a bit and pick a decet restaurant. We ended up at a place called Ard Bia on Nimmo’s Pier, where we were very lucky to get a place – they said the table was actually reserved that evening but if we could finish our meal in 40 minutes we were welcome to use it until the next group came.

I LOVED the decor… such cute jugs for the flowers, and all the adorable teapots everywhere…

Ard Bia table decorations
Ard Bia table decorations
Teapots at Ard Bia
Teapots at Ard Bia

The food was also really good. I had a starter of courgette and warm haloumi salad, which came with the most delicious bread:

Halloumi and courgette salad
Halloumi and courgette salad

Then I ordered lamb for main, while Jan went for the sea trout. There was a bit of a mix-up with the mains, with the wiatress having written down 3 trout and two lamb rather than vice versa, so my meal was a little late coming. The waitress came over and apologised profusely though, and was so, so nice that I didn’t mind the wait. I forgot to take a photo of my lamb, so here’s one of Jan’s fish instead:

Sea trout
Sea trout

For desert, I had lemon posset topped with raspberries and strawberries. Even though I was technically full, this stuff was so smooth is just slid down my throat. Sooooooooooo tasty! I also tried a bit of K’s raspberry and rose sorbet, which was OMG amazing!! Droooool! This is my dessert:

Lemon posset
Lemon posset

We finished just in time! The people who had reserved our table were just arriving as we paid the bill.
Aaand that was our final night in Galway! We were all too full to even think about fitting any drinks in, so instead we picked up the car and drove to Tesco, which is where I went shopping for the stash I showed you in a previous post.

The next day, we drove back to Dublin to drop the car of and then had one final night in Ireland before flying home… but that’s a story for my next blog post.

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8 thoughts on “Ireland, days 11-12: The Cliffs of Moher and Connemara National Park

    1. I WISH someone had told us that!! We got loads of tips from Fergham and Seán, but for around Dublin and Kilkenny. I think there may have been a free carpark at the other end of the cliffs, but we couldn’t reverse back out of where the mean woman was because there was a queue of cars right behind us.

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