After Galway we drove around Galway Bay in the general direction of the Cliffs of Moher. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what we drove through. I know we hit at least three counties that day- Galway, Clare, and Kerry- but beyond that I can’t honestly say which towns we drove through, or where “The Burren” begins and ends.
All I know is that most towns had something three times as old as America in it, like this random castle we drove by.
Nearly every town we passed was beautiful and picturesque beyond belief. It got to the point where I started to resent American towns. “Why can’t we have cute little hedge rows and stone fences everywhere?” I complained to John, multiple times an hour. “Why can’t we at least make an effort to build our McDonald’s in an old world style?”
Well now I just don’t want to worship in my ’70s Lutheran church with the weird windows and the shag carpeting.
As we circled the bay we started to approach the hilly area we had seen from the other side. After a whole three minutes of Googling, I’m still not quite sure what they’re called. All I can tell is that they’re probably part of “The Burren,” though I’m not even sure Irish people know where the Burren begins and ends. It’s just an area full of rocky cliffs, rocky hills, and rocky farmhouses.
I’m not sure whether what we had to climb over to get to the Cliffs of Moher is defined as a “mountain.” Briefly looking up “Irish mountains” on Google Maps shows no mountains in that area. I suppose they’re just very large, rocky hills.
They weren’t very big, but after a few days in Ireland, you start to get used to everything being flat.
The road up was steep, winding, narrow, and naturally filled to the brim with large, bulky tour buses. At one point, when swerving outrageously up the hills with a tour bus on our tail, the car stalled and started to roll backwards for one terrifying moment. Once again, the Irish people and tourists were remarkably understanding and no one honked at us.
Then we got to the top, got stuck behind a slow-moving, frequently-stalling tourist in another rental car, and complained about him for half an hour like the true Americans we are.
You can tell where all the stone for the walls comes from.
And then we got to the Cliffs of Moher. I booked entry tickets in advance, which was a good thing because the park fills up rapidly in the summer when it’s not raining, even in the early morning on a weekday.
In order to preserve the natural beauty of the landscape, the park had hidden their bathrooms, gift shops, and food courts underground, built into the side of the hill like a commercialized Hobbiton. I stopped briefly into the gift shop to see what kind of Authentic Irish™ goods I could find, but after seeing the same gifts I saw in eight separate shops in Galway, I began to suspect that there was only one producer of Authentic Irish™ goods in Ireland.
And then we climbed the hill to the Cliffs, and despite the eight hundred other tourists we had to fight through, it was worth it. Easy to see why there were eight hundred other tourists in the first place.
The little tower on the mildly less picturesque side of the Cliffs was a modern creation, though clearly meant to blend in. For a few Euro you could climb to the top, in order to better see over the heads of the tourists.
I just brought a 6’2″ guy with me. Easier than paying €2.
This was the view with your back to the Cliffs. Still beautiful. I bet the cows were happy.
And then, as the midday tourist vans started to roll in, we hopped back into our car and drove towards Killarney.
Along the way, we passed through a hideous little town, reminiscent of those upper-middle-class suburbs that spring up in newly rich communities in America. All the houses were modern and had made very little effort to match the landscape, and there was a massive golf course as though Ireland itself weren’t already, essentially, one very large golf course.
I really can’t complain, since the town has nothing to do with me, but it was awful and ugly and reminded me too much of America, which is typically awful and ugly. I would bet a small amount of real money that it was mostly filled with vacation homes for American people.
Why can’t Ireland cater to my every whim and standard, that’s what I want to know.