Dingle & the Blasket Islands

This next trip across Ireland definitely took the longest to get to. Eight hours after leaving Dublin we arrived in Dingle, which turned out to be a charming little town.

The next morning we went down to Dingle Bay, before splitting up for the day.  Claire and I were headed to Ventry Pier to take the ferry to the Blasket Islands and explore for the day, before busing to the nearby town of Dunquin.  The others, well they were going to spend the day walking to Dunquin. It’s only 14km; totally doable (this is the crew that decided to hike 19km along the Giant’s Causeway in a storm).

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Getting ready to split up!

Our little ferry eventually arrived, and Claire and I were off!

We came across a pack of dolphins which was amazing.

And saw a few basking shark in the distance.

After what seemed like a blink of an eye we arrived at the island. I actually studied the writings of the Blasket Islands in university, so I had wanted to make sure to actually make it to the islands when I was in Ireland. In the 20th century, a few of the islanders were taught to write, and as a result, they wrote autobiographies about life on the island. It was, and continues to be, an idyllic place to be.

It was just an absolutely gorgeous place to see, especially with the sun shining.  This was the perfect trip.

Eventually our ferry came back to pick us up and we were forced to leave.  At least the scenery on the way to Dunquin was still nice to gaze at.

We met the rest of our group at a great bed and breakfast, and then made our way back to Dublin the next morning.  Here we are waiting for the bus.

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One of my absolute most favourite trips.

The Cliffs of Moher

The next day we left Galway and headed to the Burren on the way to the Cliffs of Moher.

The Burren is definitely a unique place.  There are huge pavements of limestone with vertical fissures all throughout, and has apparently been settled since the stone age.  It was pretty bleak though, especially on a cloudy day.

From here we moved on to the main event: theCcliffs of Moher.  Now, the rule of thumb regarding the cliffs is simply don’t follow the rules. Even your guidebooks will tell you that to properly see the Cliffs you need to trespass. The public path allowed us to walk for about 5 minutes along the cliff before a sign appears telling you to turn back. However, there’s a well-worn path which we trespassed along. You are more likely to find more people where they shouldn’t be, then where they should be. (Mom, don’t worry.  This is probably the only time I didn’t follow the rules).

We weren’t sure what to expect, as it was incredibly foggy when we arrived.  I’ll admit to being disappointed, but we decided to walk along the cliffs anyways.  We walked for about 30 minutes, even though we couldn’t see anything around us.

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We were about to give in and turn back, when out of nowhere, the fog started to clear. It was amazing to see the cliffs slowly come into view.  In hindsight, it was a pretty stupid decision to walk through the fog, as we could have fallen off the cliff at any moment, but it was definitely worth the risk.

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My sweater from the Aran Islands.

In the end it all worked out perfectly, as it so often does.

Galway & the Aran Islands

UCD planned another trip for us – this time to Galway, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher.

We drove two hours across the county, and spent day one exploring Galway. It’s a cute little university town, with one main streets and rivers running throughout town.  Very picturesque.

The next morning we headed to the ferry for the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are a group of three islands, with aproximately 1,200 residents.  There are several Bronze and Iron Age forts on the islands that you can actually interact with. But they are most famous for their hand knit wool sweaters, one of which I purchased. We only made it to the biggest island, Inis Mor (Inishmore), but we still have a full day of exploring.

On the ferry ride (about 45 minutes long) we saw the Irish Coast Guard practice a drill which was pretty cool to see (and kept my mind off the cold).

Once you arrive on the island, you have four options of transportation. You can

  1. hire a bus to give you a tour
  2. rent a horse and buggy
  3. walk
  4. rent a bike

Renting a bike is the most popular option and at the time seemed like a reasonable idea. Five hours later, I wasn’t quite so sure. In my usual fashion I fell off about 4 times throughout the day and now I have bruises all down my legs. But it helped make the experience authentic and it really was an awesome day.

The Aran Islands

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Proof that I rode a bike.

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Dun Aonghasa: the most spectacular semi circular Celtic Stone fort in Europe.  It was built by Celtic tribsman around 2000 BC.  The other part of the fort, shown below, is sheer cliff.