Living Life on the Edge of Cliffs and Ancient Castles: Ireland

I went to Ireland this past weekend for four days. It was a bit of traveling getting there, though the flight itself was only 45 minutes. That alone had the power to wow me; that I was able to travel to such an amazing place for 30 some pounds round trip on a 45 minute flight. Oh the joys of everything being right next to each other.

Because I only had four days in Ireland and because it was my first time ever, I basically decided to kill myself and do as much as humanly possible. I flew in late on Friday night and stayed at Abigail’s Hostel, which I highly recommend if anyone ever wants to stay in Dublin. It’s centrally located in the center of the city and right next to Temple Bar which is the more tourist attraction area but very traditional with all types of pubs, traditional Irish music, and the normal clichés you attribute to a good, Irish bar.

Both Saturday and Sunday we had booked tours to see other parts of Ireland. Saturdays tour was to the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s ‘7 Wonders.’ The journey began at 6:40 am (it was still pitch black at this point) and our first stop was the city of Limerick. We got off the bus and were able to cross the river Shannon, giving a great view of King John’s Castle right on the river. We drove through lots of back country in Ireland to reach the Cliffs of Moher, including the ironic many different colored farms of Ireland. I officially love sheep by the way. Especially baby ones. Forget the cows in Farmville; you want cute find a baby sheep.

We reached the cliffs at 11:30. To get there you literally travel along the coastline down a skinny little two lane road (and it’s even skinnier than you think in your head because this is the UK…). The tourist center is built into the side of one of the hills to keep the place as natural looking as possible, but at that point you aren’t even paying attention to the people or the visitor center. You are at that point focused on the breathtaking, very steep, dangerously close to the edge Cliffs of Moher.

It’s really hard to explain something so amazing. It feels like you are standing on the edge of the world and the terrifying part is you kind of are. There are pathways with only a thin slate slab keeping you from the edge. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and exhilarating and if you’re a dare devil like me, extremely dangerous. You can walk the entire length of it, all the way out to the tip; just you, the Atlantic Ocean, and a gulling wind trying to blow you over.

After we went to one of the greatest national parks, the Burren. It is a huge area entirely of limestone and can be referred to as the ‘mini’ Cliffs of Moher because it too has a breathtaking view and frighteningly steep drop.

The next day was Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. This castle is surrounded by parkland, a lake, a cave (with tunnels running all under the castle and to different cities, as rumored.) Blarney Castle is amazing for two reasons in my opinion. The first is because it is a place outside of time. The castle is still so fully intact and laid out, as well as the land so beautiful and untouched that it is easy to imagine what medieval life must have been like. Absolutely amazing. The second reason is you get to kiss a legend of sorts. If you want to know all the legends of the Blarney Stone (because there are quite a few) I would suggest Googling it, but in short if you kiss the stone you are blessed with seven years of eloquent speech. The only thing is to kiss it you have to walk up 100 steps to the top of the castle and then hang yourself upside down some five stories up. It was awesome, and actually probably the greatest part of my trip. There is a rush in facing your fears (i.e. heights) and kissing an ancient legend.

Another great part of Ireland though, is the nightlife. Pubs on Temple Bar are ironically Irish and the live music is to die for (as is the cider.) In short, Ireland is an amazing place.