After spending a weekend in Dublin, it was time to head out of the city to explore more of this beautiful country of Ireland. We headed west while be told so many wonderful stories from our tour guide about her home country of Ireland. Her personal stories brought the country more to life and made the bus ride go by fairly quickly. Our first stop for the day was in the city of Galway.
Located on the west coast of Ireland, Galway got its start as a small fishing village and later became a walled town in 1232. By the 1400s, it became an important seaport for trade with other European countries. With the presence of new seaports on the eastern side of Ireland, the trade business in Galway declined beginning in the 1600s.
Today Galway is thriving again as a popular destination full of shops and pubs and plenty of festivals to enjoy throughout the year.
We arrived in Galway and our first stop was Eyre Square. In Eyre Square there are a couple of interesting things to see. First is the Browne Doorway, which dates back to the 1600s. This doorway came from the Browne’s family home on Abbeygate street in Galway. It represents the architecture of the period and displays the two coats of arms of the families that were joined in marriage. They just don’t make doors like this today.
Also located in Eyre Square are flags with the family crests of the 14 original merchant families in Galway, including the Browne Family.
An interesting tidbit on Eyre Square, it is also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in memory of the US President who visited Galway in 1963 on his last trip before his assassination. As a fellow Boston resident with and Irish background like John F. Kennedy, I love to see that he is memorialized outside of the United States.
As we arrived in Galway around lunch time, I was on the search for a pub for some lunch and a beverage (I was on vacation, so why not?) I walked into one pub and knew it was the best spot for lunch for me when I looked to the right as I walked in and saw police and fire badges from cities and towns in Massachusetts! I settled in for a delicious sandwich and a Baileys Coffee, I had many of these during my trip to Ireland, they were so creamy and delicious!
After lunch we took a walk thru town to check out some of the shops. Galway was such a beautiful spot to walk around and explore and there were so many people out and about which was so nice to see.
One of the things I enjoyed seeing as I was walking around Galway was the local street art. I especially enjoyed the Puffin street art. Being on the west coast of Ireland, puffins are seen off the coast of Galway. I love puffins, but sadly did not see any on my trip.
Although it was a short trip to Galway, it was a nice overview of this beautiful city. But I was so looking forward to the next stop, the Cliffs of Moher.
Cliffs of Moher
I have been dreaming of visiting the Cliffs of Moher for as long as I can remember. To me there is nothing more beautiful than the ocean and if you throw in some massive cliffs as well, I’m in heaven!
Of course, the excitement of finally being on my way to see this amazing spot was foreshadowed by some awful motion sickness. The road there had lots of curves, so make sure to prepare if you are a fellow motion sickness sufferer. Although it was a rough ride for me, the views along the way were stunning and I was very grateful when we made a stop to get out and take some photos, I definitely needed some time in the fresh air.
After the short break in the fresh air, I was able to handle the remainder of the ride. And when we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, it surpassed my expectations on how beautiful it was, so I will say the motion sickness was worth it to see this beautiful coastal spot in Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher tower over the Atlantic Ocean along the Wild Atlantic Way. With its location on the coast, the weather can be quite unpredictable. It could be foggy one minute and then bright and sunny the next or they can have fog for quite a while which if you have limited time, could ruin your trip to the Cliffs of Moher. I visited late afternoon and was blessed with partly sunny weather, but they did have quite a foggy morning earlier that day. One thing you can definitely count on weather-wise at the cliffs is wind! It is the coast after all, so be prepared for some gusty winds and dress appropriately. This was the one and only time my entire trip that I was actually cold and grateful for the heavy jacket I brought with me.
There is plenty to do at the Cliffs of Moher. There is a visitors center with exhibits, gift shop and cafe. It’s definitely a great spot to escape the windy conditions for a bit.
The highlight of the Cliffs of Moher is walking along the cliffs to the different viewpoints. Not only are there paved walkways in the immediate location near the main parking lot, but there are also trails that go along the coast both north and south of the cliffs if you are interested in a longer hike. I enjoyed walking to the different viewing areas and getting some photos from different locations.
While viewing the cliffs, you will notice O’Brien’s Tower. This tower was built in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien as an observation tower in an attempt to make the cliffs more accessible. The tower is located at the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher at just over 700 feet high. The views from here are stunning, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Aran Islands.
Ennis and Bunratty Castle
A little over a half hour drive from Cliffs of Moher is the town of Ennis. As the capital of the County Clare, Ennis is a popular town to visit. Situated on the River Fergus, it’s a great town to walk thru the winding streets and check out the shops and old buildings. Ennis has an historic past and was home to a Franciscan Friary from 1242 to 1690.
We stayed at the Temple Gate Hotel which sits on the site of a former convent. It was a very unique hotel, with a beautiful lobby.
Located near Ennis is the Bunratty Castle. Located on the site of a Viking trading camp that dates back to the year 970, the castle has been here since 1425. You can visit both the castle and the 26-acre folk park. They also offer a medieval banquet inside the castle which includes entertainment and a four-course meal. I was really looking forward to the banquet, but unfortunately, they hadn’t started up the banquets yet due to covid. So instead, we enjoyed a replacement banquet at the restaurant across the street. I must say, as I sat looking longingly out the window at the view of Bunratty Castle across the street, I was a bit disappointed to miss out on enjoying the banquet inside the castle like I had dreamed of.
The disappointment of the night aside, it was such a beautiful day exploring Galway and the stunning Cliffs of Moher. I was also looking forward to the next day when we were getting out to the Ireland countryside to explore the Ring of Kerry. More on that in my next post, so stay tuned…
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