I have been trying to write this post for three months now, since we returned from this trip to Ireland back in June, but have been unable to finish it because of the problems that I have been having with my laptop. I was determined that it would get finished, as you will see from the photographs the west coast of Ireland could not have looked better.
On Sunday we made the short journey from Ennis, north west to Doolin on the west coast, where we returned to the delightful country house hotel, about three miles outside Doolin that we have stayed on our previous visits. Now I knew why we had returned to the west coast of Ireland for the third time and to this hotel in particular. The weather was glorious - warm and sunny and forecast to get even warmer. Here is the view of Doolin from our hotel, with the Cliffs of Moher in the distance.
On our previous visits the weather had been cool, grey and damp, which had prevented us seeing some of the local attractions. The hotel is a bit quirky, but so quiet and comfortable and the food is good too. So everything was looking good and it certainly seemed to be third time lucky with the weather. We settled ourselves into our room then headed off down to the harbour to investigate the boat trips that we had not done on our previous visits, because of the miserable weather.
Not having been to Doolin over a weekend before, we were in for a surprise. The good weather was also playing its' part. The place was packed! We just managed to find a space to park the car. We are not lazy. It is too far to walk. There was also a lot of work going on in the harbour area with a new coast guard station being built and construction of new piers for the ferries. With leaflets about ferry times for the different boat trips we retired to one of the pubs, just along from this pink thatched cottage, for refreshment and a sit in the sun.
For Monday we had decided to do the Cliffs of Moher cruise. Previously we have walked along the Cliffs of Moher, but you see them from a different perspective from the sea. The cliffs stretch for 8 km/5 miles and in places are as high as 200 m/700 feet. They are sheer walls of limestone with shale and sandstone on top and are home to a variety of seabirds. On the return half of the cruise the boat took us in close to the seabird colony. I had just lined my camera up to take a photograph of the birds standing on a ledge when the boat moved with the swell of the sea and all I got was a line of feet.
We went on the mid-day cruise and did not realise until we were out on the water that the cliffs were in the shade. Had we gone later in the day the sun would have been further round and the cliffs would have been in the sun, which would probably have made for better photographs.
Back on dry land we had a pub lunch, sitting outside in the sun. Then we went for a walk along the road at the top of Doolin, from which you have a good view of the centre of Doolin (photograph below) and it eventually leads to the Cliffs of Moher walk.
By now the sun was at its' highest and hottest and we were not kitted out for a long walk. So we turned back when the road became a track and found another pub for refreshment. This walking and sight seeing is thirsty work.
On Tuesday we had decided to take a ferry again to the smallest and nearest of the three Aran Islands - Inisheer. It is 1400 acres with a population of 300 people. All three of the Aran Islands have a barren virtually treeless, cracked limestone terrain
and simply built dwellings.
Amazingly to the side of the harbour the limestone terrain is broken by this lovely white sandy beach which is as good as you will find anywhere in the world.
After a lunch eaten while sitting in the sun, it was time to return to the harbour to catch the ferry back to Doolin.
Wednesday morning found us making our way back to Dublin. Our route took us north towards Galway, then eastwards. We drove through some absolutely stunning scenery, which unfortunately it was just impossible to take photographs of, through the mucky windows of a moving car. We stopped in Athlone to have a spot of lunch in a local hostelry and returned to our car approximately one hour later to find the temperature gauge reading 29 degrees Centigrade - that is high for Ireland in June.
The purpose of our visit to Dublin was for me to go to the World Flower Show at the Royal Dublin Society and for husband to go to the Library of Ireland to do some family history research, which we did the following day. There were over 600 exhibits at the flower show. I am not sure that I managed to see them all. This exhibit won the prize for Best in Show.
It was not all serious flower arranging - these two exhibits caught my eye although neither received any sort of prize or commendation.
There will not be another world flower show, so close to home, for some years to come, so this was not an opportunity to be missed.
We had perfect weather for these few days in Ireland and it made the holiday so much better than the two holidays that we have had there, when the weather has been miserable.