|Welcome to rainy Dublin !!|
I flew into Dublin on a rainy Saturday afternoon in the middle of November, not an ideal time to be visiting the Emerald Isle … but duty called. Dublin is a great mix of modern and medieval architecture that I was only able to get glimpses of on my 3 hour bus ride to Galway on the west coast of Ireland.
The very comfortable WiFi equipped bus whisked me through bucolic pastures and scenes of battles past, like the Battle of Aughrim in County Galway. The neat rows of stone walls demarcating fields and cattle grazing away to their hearts content was like a soothing lullaby after the trans-Atlantic flight … either that or the jet lag from the 8 hour time difference 🙂
I had planned the Saturday arrival so that I could get some time to go around on Sunday before a full work week. I was particularly excited to see the Cliffs of Moher, ever since I learnt that those were the Cliffs of Insanity from the Princess Bride.
|Caisleáin Dhún Guaire|
The tour started with a stop at Dunguaire Castle (pics above) – a 16th century tower house near Kinvarra. The countryside seems to be dotted with these multi-story towers that served as the seats of local kings, and this one has been restored beautifully. The grounds were closed for winter, but I was able to make a short loop around the walls. Also, across the castle was a traditional house topped with turf (or peat) – reminded me of the thatched roof houses in India.
|House with a turf roof|
Next up was a ride through the Burren National Park, which is described as a “karst” landscape that looks like cracked pavement – rugged and beautiful on a cold rainy day.
|Karst landscape of the Burren National Park|
The one stop we decided to make (and did not want to miss) was a 7000 year old neolithic tomb called a Dolmen – basically a burial mound consisting of two vertical stones topped by a huge horizontal one. I was surprised to find that similar dolmens are scattered across the world – in Korea, India, and the Middle East.
Lunch was in Doolin village, renowned for its music – our tour guide mentioned a local family with everyone in the last 3 generations growing up to become a professional musician. A pint of authentic Irish Guinness was music to my ears!!
|Lunch at Doolin Village|
Lunch done, we headed to the Cliffs of Moher where we got 90 minutes to explore 5 miles of cliffs. Given that the cliffs are ~700 feet high and at the absolute edge of the Atlantic, it was blowing what seemed like gale force winds whipping up rain and foam all around – exactly like in that one scene from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince where Harry & Dumbledore go to retrieve a horcrux!!
|Cliffs of Moher|
|Cliffs of Moher|
|O’Brien’s Tower at Cliffs of Moher|
I think most of the tourists lasted about an hour before heading back to the information center for a VR experience and other touristy things. One last stop before the scenic ride along the Wild Atlantic Way back to Galway was at an old cathedral/cemetery with tombs dating from the early 1800’s. This would be the Kilfenora Cathedral hosting the famous High Crosses of Ireland – an interesting mixture of Catholic and Celtic symbology.
The next five days of my trip can be summed up in a series of emails and slides – something I wouldn’t want to bore you fine folks with … unless there was some real demand for it 🙂 I absolutely fell in love with Ireland, its landscape, its history, and its people in the course of a single day and will surely return with my family for an extended vacation – maybe in the Summer months. Slán leat Éire.
Till the next guest post,