Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ireland Part IV: Adare Village, the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, and Bunratty Castle

I was hoping that I would be able to finish all of the Ireland posts a year after going on the trip. I did it with about 3 months to spare! It's funny how I used to spit these out within a week of going on a trip or experiencing something new, and now that we're removed from our two year adventure and have an active 18 month old on our hands it takes just a little bit longer to write. Anyway, I digress...

The last part of our journey had us leaving County Kerry and heading slightly north to County Clare. It was supposed to be a nice day so we decided to drive up to the Cliffs of Moher and then back down a little bit to our lodging at a farmhouse in Newcastle. On our drive up we stopped in the small village of Adare. Adare is often known as Ireland's "prettiest village". The village is famous for its thatched cottages which were built in the 19th century. Now the cottages house restaurants and small craft shops.

Moving on from Adare we drove a little over an hour to the famous Cliffs of Moher. There are no words to describe what we saw here; it was that stunning and beautiful. So I'll just leave you with some pictures. We have MUCH better pictures on Jon's camera, which I'll be uploading soon! For now this is all I have:

We walked out quite a ways down from the entrance in order to get away from the crowds. There were areas that were a little scary to walk by, and if you took one wrong step you might have just fallen off the cliff!

After the cliffs, we drove down towards the water and went to the small town of Doolin. Our friends had told us that they had amazing mussels here, but after looking at numerous restaurants' menus and specials, and not seeing mussels, we settled on some local grub so we could eat.

For the next couple of nights we stayed at a gorgeous farmhouse in Newmarket in Fungus, about 15 minutes from Shannon airport where we had an early flight two days later. Cahergal Farmhouse is off the beaten path, but still within access of many sights. This farm is gorgeous with such bright greenery, animals strolling around the grounds, and space in the house so we could lounge around without being in anyone's way. This farmhouse is what I think about when I think about classic Ireland. We were greeted with homemade scones and tea, and lovely hosts that gave suggestions on what to do since we had a "free" day during our last day there.

Our hosts suggested we go to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. This is a pretty complete medieval fortress that contains many 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, art, and dwellings, which capture the mood of that time. We strolled from building to building (a house, shop, post office, school, doctor's office, pub) taking in all of the sights and sounds as they recreated the scene from that time. We watched the tasks of typical rural Irish families and saw the conditions in which they lived. We took a nice walk through the gardens, modeled on the original Regency period garden, which supplied fruit, vegetables, and flowers to Bunratty House.

A house 

Inside the castle

Nice view! 

The schoolhouse 

Dr. Jon outside the doctor's house! 

Before coming to Ireland we had read reviews that this place gets super crowded, to the point where it's not enjoyable at all. We also read that it's not very authentic and is a big tourist trap. Had our hosts not suggested it and really backed it up we probably wouldn't have gone. We got there right when it opened so it wasn't crowded at all, and we thought the way everything was set up with period pieces and "actors" was believable and tastefully done.

This trip to Ireland proved to be just what we needed- a mix of outdoor activities filled with amazing scenery, and a flexible schedule that allowed for the much needed down time we were craving. Time to plan the next vacation!