Since everyone in my room went to bed early on Saturday, we decided to get up early to explore the adorable little town of Ennis, Co. Clare before we had to head down to coast to our final stops before making our way back to UCD. We woke up around 7am to get ready and eat breakfast, and then left the hostel to walk around. I feel bad for anyone who didn’t get the chance to do this, because we quickly found that Ennis is a town with a lot of really cool character and unexpected beauties.
The first thing I noticed when we walked out the front door of our hostel, is that it was placed in a beautiful location. The first thing you see is the river and cute bridge.
The second thing I noticed is that Ennis is a town full of very brightly colored doors, all of which I couldn’t help but take pictures of. At the time I didn’t think about the fact that there were probably people inside wondering why in the world I was taking a picture of their house and thinking it was a bit weird, but oh well.
The third thing I noticed was that Ennis has a crap ton of birds…everywhere. I spent at least 70% of our walk praying that I wasn’t going to get pooped on.
Our quiet walk through Ennis was one of the best parts of the day, partly because it was the only time the whole day we didn’t feel like we were standing in a hurricane and it was a refreshing change from the day before. Ennis had some hidden gems that were well worth waking up early to see (anyone who knows me will understand how much it takes for me to wake up earlier than I have to).
Our tour left Ennis around 10am, and Tom took us to the Dunguaire Castle for a quick photo stop. This was the coldest day of the weekend so as much as we wanted to go in the castle, we had a lot of stops to make on our journey back to Dublin and Tom didn’t want us get too wet and cold before we got there.
As I’m sure you can tell by how far my hands are shoved into my pockets, it was a bit chilly.
We left Dunguaire Castle and traveled to Corcomroe Abbey, which turned into a very special place for me on this trip.
While looking through the ruins of the monastery, I looked down and found a heart shaped rock. My mom happens to collect heart shaped rocks and has a habit of finding heart shaped things everywhere, so it was really wonderful to find a little piece of Mumma in Ireland. She must’ve been thinkin’ about me when I found it. 🙂
We left the Corcomroe Abbey and took the scenic coastal route on our way to the Cliffs of Moher, where we made a few stops to check out The Burren, the small town of Doolin and the Doolin Pier, as well as a spot where a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was filmed (The Black Head Loop in the photos below). The wind and rain was as brutal (possibly worse by the ocean) as it had been on Saturday, but that couldn’t stop me from capturing the many beautiful moments I experienced on this trip.
At the Doolin Pier, our bus driver actually couldn’t go into the parking lot because it had been destroyed by the many storms that had passed through the area in the recent months. The power of the wind at the pier was absolutely insane. I had taken my phone out to take a picture, and a gust snatched my phone right out of my hand and flew it onto the broken tar behind me (thank God for lifeproof cases).
By this point in the day I had accepted the fact that my jeans would likely stay soaking wet until we got back to UCD, which I was fine with. I had never seen the ocean roaring powerfully like it was at the pier, and it was pretty amazing to witness.
After we left the pier we started heading toward the Cliffs of Moher. I saw the Cliffs a few weeks prior on a beautiful day, so if the weather didn’t clear up I was perfectly okay with hanging out in the museum and shops until the tour was ready to leave; however, I wanted to go to the Cliffs for a couple of minutes just to check if I could even see anything through the clouds. Here are a few images that perfectly describe how that very short trip went:
We stayed outside at the Cliffs for about 10mins before calling it quits and heading inside. I believe there were 5 people on the tour who ended up getting blown over and falling in the mud as they were walking along the path, so I don’t regret my decision to stay inside one bit. It also gave me the chance to pick up a couple of postcards which I’m collecting from everywhere I travel throughout study abroad, so that was nice.
We left the stormy Cliffs of Moher and went to our final stop of the day: Lehinch Beach, Co. Clare. At this particular beach, the waves were getting so massive they were actually going up and over a small restaurant close to the water (if you look on the lefthand side of the 3rd picture below, you can see the building I’m talking about). It might be called Lehinch Beach, but you can’t actually see a beach at all because of the crazy weather.
One poor girl was trying to get her picture taken with a wave and was standing along the stairs. She was so excited…until a huge wave blew up over the stairs, soaked her, and nearly took her out. I only stayed outside for a few minutes of this stop- my camera lens kept getting wet so the pictures wouldn’t come out clear, and I really didn’t want to spend the 3 hour ride home having just been saturated by a wave like the girl who wanted the picture.
We left Lehinch Beach and likely made a couple of pit stops on the way home for food/bathrooms, but I don’t really remember because I slept almost the entire way back to UCD. This weekend in and around Galway completely blew my expectations out of the water. I had no clue we would see as much as we did and get to explore so much of Ireland’s west coast. Although I’m not typically one for surprises, thank you ISS for surprising me with all of the amazing destinations on this trip. It was a weekend I will never forget.
Now, I’m going to go sleep for a few days.