Ireland, a little blast from the past as August is a wee while ago now. I typed up a whole post, which Blogger then promptly ate, so I lost the will to go back to it for a month or so.
In any case, rather than bore on at length about what we got up to, I thought I would mostly share some photographs of some places that I would recommend if you're ever visiting the west coast of Ireland.
You'll also see that the weather we had, for the most part, was absolutely glorious. That is by no means guaranteed but the country will still be gorgeous....it's remarkably well-suited to drizzle.
The first few days of the holiday were spent at a family wedding and I didn't really take many photos at all, not wanting to carry my camera with me. The wedding was in Bunratty, in County Clare and we decided to stay on for a few extra days, moving to Ennistymon, to spend a little more time in Clare and Galway, where my mum's side of the family come from.
There are three Aran Islands - Inis Mor (pronounced Inishmore), Inis Meain (pronounced Inishmaan) and Inis Oirr (pronounced Inisheer) - which you can take ferries to from the mainland (we travelled from Doolin).
This was a must for me as I have amazing memories of getting a fishing boat out to the islands on a trip to Ireland when I was small, fishing for mackerel (can't imagine helping very muh, I was quite young, but I have strong memories of carrying slippery fish around a boat) and then eating the freshly cooked fish that evening.
We decided to do a trip incorporating Inis Oirr (which is the most eastern island) and a boat trip back via the Cliffs of Moher. With the benefit of hindlegs, I'd choose a trip giving you longer on the island as it was so gorgeous and the boat trip back was so crowded, quite long and a lot of us were forced to stay inside as the journey was quite rough - I have a strong stomach so was fine but being around people throwing up on a small boat was not the most fun. It was incredible to see the Cliffs from underneath though!
Visiting Inis Oirr was like travelling back in time - some scattered old cottages around but mostly fields and animals. The main language on the island is Gaelic which was fascinating to hear too.
The Cliffs of Moher
You can walk the 5 miles along the cliffs, some of which passes some perilous drops. It's home to lots of different kinds of sea birds, including puffins which we sadly didn't see!
According to some literature picked up at the exciting Cliffs of Moher Centre, on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Peninsual and Blasket Islands in Kerry. It was not that clear on our visit but still stunning!
Kilmacduagh is a ruined abbey near Gort in County Galway. We passed lots of ruined (what looked like) churches as we were driving around throughout the few days but stopped off at this one because it looked so beautifully haunting, standing out amongst all the green.
Ballyvaughan is a small harbour village in County Clare, where we stopped for a few Guinnesses (alas not me) and some fresh seafood.
We had to stop here to quickly snap the disappearing sunlight... So beautiful.
In Irish, the Burren is Boireann which means 'great rock' and is more than slightly appropriate. It's a vast landscape of bedrock, with cliffs and caves, rock formations, fossils and archaeological sites to visit.
We only drove through and stopped off briefly, unfortunately, so will definitely need to go back and explore more.
If you do visit, look out for signs to 'The Burren Chocolatier', which will lead you to the Hazel Mountain chocolate shop and factory. I know I mentioned this in my first post-Ireland Wonderful Wednesday post but I am still thinking about their orange blossom carrot cake so it had to be mentioned again!