“This. Day!” -Kelly McNamara
When we were planning our travels around Ireland, I didn’t think too much of Doolin. It was recommended to us by a family friend, but when I did a Google search for photos of the town, it looked like there was pretty much nothing there except for a few houses. There’s not even a grocery store or bank, you have to go to the next town over for those services.
But, I knew it was going to be a great location because of the easy access to the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and Aran Islands. Not to mention it had come HIGHLY recommended, so I went with it.
Well, let me tell you, I was not disappointed! From the moment the bus turned into town, I knew I was in love. This quaint country town had captured my heart and run off into the pasture with it. Doolin IS the best, so no one go and travel there now and ruin it for me!!! 🙂 Just Kidding (kind of)!
Let me tell ya, that bird poop in Galway really was good luck. We had three glorious days while in Doolin, it couldn’t have been any better. After arriving at the hostel – which we had to a walk a bit to because of course we got off at the wrong bus stop – we dropped off our stuff, loaded up or day packs and headed off. We decided to head down to the pier first thing to figure out which ferry to take to the Aran Islands and what day would be the best to go since Kelly is prone to sea sickness, as recently witnessed in Playa del Carmen.
The walk down there took about 20 minutes and it was a GORGEOUS walk. Well, pretty much everything about Doolin was gorgeous…anyway, we didn’t even make it all the way to the pier before getting side tracked by a park along coast. We walked around there for a bit, playing on the rocks (or what I liked to call the lunar landscape), taking pictures, standing in awe of the waves splashing against the shore all while being soaked by the rain!
We finally made it to the pier where we found out the weather the next day was going to be perfect for visiting the islands. We bought our tickets and headed back to the hostel for a night in.
The next morning we got up, made our pb&j “sammies” and ate breakfast before heading off to Inisheer, the smallest and closest to Doolin out of the three islands. The boat ride was cold and poor Kelly got splashed by a wave that slammed into the side of the boat, but no one got sea sick!
When we got off the boat about 35 minutes later, we hiked off onto the island while many of our fellow passengers rented bikes from a shop right by the dock. There were ruins of a castle in the center of the island, but we couldn’t seem to find the road that led up the hill to it, so we trekked along the walking path that goes around the island and took in the views. It was a lovely path through fields enclosed by MANY stone walls, past cows with their calves and a couple of sheep in the middle of the road. The sun was shining and there were blue skies which is not typical for Ireland.
We only had about two and a half hours on the island, but on the ride back the boat took us up close to the cliffs and followed along side all the way back to Doolin. I was super excited to get to see a puffin floating in the sea, although it wasn’t very close. When we arrived in Doolin their resident dolphin, Dusty, was swimming along side the dock!
When we returned to the hostel we did some research for our hike and trip to the Cliffs of Moher the next day and found out that while we were visiting they were celebrating people with the last name McNamara! We couldn’t believe the irony that we would be at the Cliffs the week they were celebrating our name!
We then went to the local pub, Gus O’Connors, for their trad session that evening. We spoke with a few different groups of people, including members of the “band” that were playing that evening. This was by far our favorite trad session. The music was fun, they allowed others to partake and sing or play a song or even dance along! One of the band members gave Kelly and I each a signed CD. He handed them over with specific instructions: “now, when you listen to this you need to have a nice glass of wine by a fire with a special man by your side, and if he isn’t there then I want to be!”
This was such a fantastic day for us! Kelly just kept repeating over and over again “this day” with a happy smile on her face, so it became our new phrase to say on the trip.
Although we had a late night out, we were up bright and early the next morning to hike the 5K coastal walk to the Cliffs of Moher! Once again the weather was superb! I don’t think it even drizzled that day. We were on our way at about 9 a.m., a little later than we had planned but not by much. The walk itself was fantastic, we enjoyed that better than the actual Cliffs! Much of the hike was right along the edge of the cliffs which made it that much more beautiful and exhilarating (or maybe Kelly would say terrifying).
Guides for the coastal walk claim that it is a “difficult” hike, but having now lived in Colorado for three years I definitely did not find this hike to be difficult! Kelly and I had no problems on our walk except for getting through a muddy field. Ha. Poor Kelly chanced one muddy patch and soaked her shoe so she suggested I take off my shoes and socks and go through barefoot, so I did (I’ve determined that I still don’t like the feeling of mud squishing between my toes!). When we reached the next muddy spot we decided we were just going to hop over the electric fence, the barbed wire fence AND the stone wall to walk up the dirt road (A farmer’s private property) instead. Of course we did the same on our walk back as well. Don’t worry! The electric fence definitely wasn’t on 😉
Once at the cliffs themselves we did the usual walking around/photo taking/taking it all in kinda thing. I had no idea how afraid of heights Kelly was, but I must admit, when we first got up there I was a bit nervous too!
We went to the visitor’s center to get our little packets for being McNamara’s (the packet didn’t amount to much) and then sat on an open hillside to just enjoy the view. As we were sitting there an older gentleman approached and asked what Kelly was writing about in her journal. Turned out he was a McNamara too! Not to mention just a really nice fella! It was a lot of fun talking to him, he even let us take some photos!
After walking the 5K back to Doolin again, Kelly and I were EXHAUSTED. My feet didn’t want to move anymore! But really, if that’s all we have to complain about for our time in Doolin, I’d say it was pretty darn amazing!
If you’ve actually made it this far and read the whole post, good on ya! And thanks for taking interest in our adventure, we love telling you all about it! Please leave us a note if there is anything in particular you’d like to hear about, we want your suggestions!
Keep your eyes peeled for the photo gallery on Saturday with more pictures from Doolin!