I recently posted an image of Crab Island on my social media sites. I thought … a Doolin post! I have been twice and each time it doesn’t disappoint. This last time … well, it was a bit of a doozy!
If you are unfamiliar with Doolin, it is just a few miles north of the Cliffs of Moher. It is best known for the Doolin Pier where you can catch a boat and view the Cliffs from the Atlantic Ocean. If you are heading that way, and in the word’s of a friend … get on the boat!
Is it worth it the time? You are probably thinking … by the time I get there, buy tickets, wait, go out, etc., it will take an entire afternoon. But, it is absolutely worth it!
First, if you like ‘people watching’ grab a seat at the back of the boat; sit back and observe. You will see newly purchased wool sweaters, excited kids, nervous parents (watching those excited kids), resigned spouses (only there because he/she made me), and camera’s everywhere.
Unless you venture inside the cabin, be prepared to get a bit wet. There is the ever changing weather and you can find yourself standing in a shower. You are also going to be on the Atlantic Ocean. It can get a bit ‘choppy’. This last trip, we were dipping enough that the spray was coming over the top and the waves were pushing water over the bow. If you are there for the photos … consider a camera rain sleeve and a cloth to wipe the lens. (Since you are dealing with salty sea water, it was easy to toss the $3 rain sleeve and lens cloth afterwards.)
Before we talk about the images, let’s talk about the excursion. I have never been motion sick. In fact, I sailed on the Gulf two days after a hurricane and had a blast. Understand that you are going to get on a small boat and sail into the Atlantic. Now, they will never put anyone’s life in danger. But, it can get choppy depending on the weather and many are not prepared for it. If it is a very windy day, it may not be the right time for you. My first trip was pretty calm. This last one … not so much. In fact, we took a couple of swells and most people panicked. They actually took a vote and there were only five us eager to get closer … it was a sunny day and we had our cameras ready. Everyone else wanted to head back … most were indisposed while the crew handed out plastic bags. So, heading back was probably the right thing to do.
Here is my suggestion … if you know you get motion sickness, it may not be the best choice unless it is a very calm day. Most days, you will probably get some pitch like my first trip, but it isn’t bad. If it is windy or stormy, the water will probably be ‘choppy’. If you are concerned about the weather and/or sailing conditions, ask. I really respected the gentleman at the counter (as the wind was picking up even more) who strongly suggested another day when a couple showed up to purchase tickets. They also had a baby stroller in tow.
So, back to the images … is it worth it? Absolutely. You can get some really good images of the Atlantic, Crab Island and the Cliffs, themselves. More importantly, if you really want to get a feel for the scale of the Cliffs, taking the boat tour is the best way to do this. If at all possible, you definitely want to get on that boat!!
If I may do a ‘kindness of strangers’ shout out. Thanks to the crew (on shore and on the boat) for locating my iphone. We were ‘rocking and rolling’ so much that as I steadied myself against the bow, I also pushed my phone out of my back pocket. The boat loaded quickly, so we weren’t able to catch it before it headed back out. But the guys on shore were kind enough to call the boat. The crew located the phone and once they returned, we were reunited. (They also seemed to appreciated the fudge that I bought them as a ‘thank you.’)
And kudos to Apple’s “Find an iPhone” app. We were able to confirm that the phone was on the boat and still working. So, my iPhone has been to the Aran Islands. I, however, still have it on my list for another day.
Cahir, County Tipperary, is one of my favorite places in Ireland. Traveling to Ireland without stopping in Chair for a few hours seems … well, wrong. In fact, in December 2014, while basing in County Wicklow, I heard Cahir’s ‘call’ loud and clear. Enough that I drove more than two hours and stayed the night, just so that I could spend the afternoon wandering around.
There is a certain level of intimacy to Cahir that is lost in other high-traffic tourist areas. While you may see a bus or two, you can wander the area around the castle (or town) and find more locals out and about. I have found that I am simply comfortable in Cahir. I attribute that to the people. I once based three weeks just a few kilometers from Cahir and stopped most days. As a solo traveler, I am always greated with a smile, whether it was in a cafe, a pub or a market. If I had a question, people were always kind and spared a couple of moments to help.
Cahir Castle is my favorite castle (to date) … and there are plenty of them in Ireland. I wasn’t expecting this type of castle. Okay, I wasn’t expecting any castles. Somewhere in my history lessons I jumped from Celtic to modern times. I completely missed the whole Norman-castle-building era. But there it was, still intact. It has great towers, a barbican, a great hall and even a working gate. I was completely mesmerized during the tour. I also remember thinking … what else have I missed? So, I keep returning.
More importantly for me are the images that I have been able to capture while in Cahir. I can, and have, taken hundreds of images. Here are my top four favorite images from Cahir:
‘Landlocked’ is a good adjective for me. I am from the Midwest; raised in Wisconsin and currently calling Indiana my home. The Great Lakes have always been a relatively short drive, but they don’t see to draw me. Instead, I find that I am relaxed by rolling farmland and in awe of rugged mountains.
In my travels, I have been to the Cliffs of Moher which allows you to look over the Atlantic Ocean towards the States. It was also a wonderful time slowly wandering the Copper Coast along the Celtic Sea. But it was Malahide Harbour at dusk that made me pause.
Malahide, located on the north side of Dublin, is a bit of an Irish anomaly. After spending days among ruins, traipsing across fields, and hiking paths, Malahide makes you do a double take. I find that it has a modern, urban ‘feel’ to it. It has energy. But like many places in Ireland, I find that it also has a contradiction. There is something very calming about its harbour area just a block or two from the town centre.
While I will spend a day or two in Malahide throughout a trip (e.g., Malahide Castle, Avoca, etc.), it has become my last stop before I head home. I find that my mind moves from historic to present day. I can recharge with its energy to tackle the airports, planes and congestion as I return home. It also gives me a spot where I can also take a moment or two and become reflective; thinking about where I am on my journey and moving forward. The photo opportunities are pretty good, too.
New Year’s Day was spent with a drive through the country to Adare. When we were here in June, we drove through Adare on our way to Dingle Peninsula. We were fighting the time, so we only stopped long enough to gas up.
Adare draws tourists and is one of the top places to visit when you look at tour books. It is known as the most ‘picturesque’ village in Ireland.
My first stop was wandering though the Adare Town Park. While January 1st is a national or bank holiday in Ireland, people out walking around; many parents with children playing the park.
Next, along the main drive there is a series of thatched cottages. Most are occupied by merchants, but there are a few vacant … Although I did not see a ‘For Sale’ sign anywhere. Although, one shop was open. I felt that I hit the lottery many gift shops have been closed.
Across from the cottages is the Trinitarian Abbey. Very well taken care of and a large church. There were additional buildings to back.
Finally, I walked through the downtown area. Since it was getting close to 1pm, foot traffic was picking up. It was a perfect opportunity to photograph some unique doors. What I really enjoyed was seeing the stacks of kegs/barrels. Every pub had a stack … Or two. They are set outside for pickup by they suppliers. Bottom line … They did some serious celebrating on New Year’s Eve!
Photos of the day ….
Location via Google Maps:
While my trip to Jerpoint Park was to visit the tomb of St Nicholas, I was introduced to another gem. The Church of St Nicholas was, at one point, on the edge of a medieval village called Newtown Jerpoint. It was a wealthy and vibrant town that was nestled on the edge of two rivers. What has been discovered in the past couple of years is a footprint of the town still intact.
As we left the church area, we continued toward the river. Throughout the ‘center’ of the town was a path of greener grass that was a clear road, still visible hundreds of years later. Around us were piles of foundation stones, as well as a partial ruin of a house or manor. As we reached the river, we could see where two of the three mills that once existed. At the River Nore, the water rippled over the ruins of the town’s bridge.
I am including a couple of links for you to explore. The first one provides a good overview of the town and its history. Even more phenomenal is the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) graphic that clearly shows the imprint of the town. From there, an artist’s rendition of what the town would have looked like.
Truly remarkable and worth the trip.