Inisheer and The Cliffs of Moher

Picture posting has been screwing up my blogs so I will be placing them at the bottom of the post. Sorry bout that.

We stayed at Nellie Dee’s in Doolin. It is a very nice B&B with beautiful rooms and great breakfast. It is a small place, only four rooms to let, but Jimmie and Loraine are great folks and very helpful. It’s also a short walk to two of the village pubs; the village is strung out over a distance and OConnor’s Pub is on the other end.

We took the ferry out to Inis Oirr (Inisheer), one of the Aran Island. It was another beautiful day but there were six to eight foot swells out of the south west so we were taking them quartering on the port bow. The grey waves would march on until smashing themselves on the coastal cliffs; some made spouts that must have been seventy feet up the cliffs. It made for an interesting ride, some of the passengers availed themselves of the bags marked “For Your Comfort”. It didn’t bother any of us three, but I don’t think that those using the bags were very comfortable.

The island isn’t very big, only two square miles with a population of 300, but we decided to take a horse cart ride with one of the locals. He was an older fellow that was a fisherman until five years ago when he had a hip replacement, he has been driving tourists since. The traditional fishing boats are about thirteen feet long, wood framed and covered with canvas and tar. Lately they have started using outboard motors, but until fairly recently they were rowed. Judging from the pictures I saw they would run nets out to sea, back to shore in a U and then haul the nets back in to shore.

It is a rocky island, the folk would break up the rock with sledgehammers in small fields and stack them as stone walls. They would then bring in sand and seaweed to make soil to raise potatos to eat and grass for the cattle. Although the cattle were previously family owned for dairy purposes, most now run very small cow/calf operations and a buyer comes around once a year to buy the yearlings to ship to the mainland for fattening or dairy use. That was one thing that suprised me, many of the Irish use the same breeds for dairy and beef cattle, as most of you know there are specific breeds for each use in the U.S.

One of the landmarks on the island is the shipwreck Plassey which foundered off the island in the 1960s and was later thrown above the high water line by a strong storm. All of the crew were rescued by the islanders using a breeches buoy. Our driver said that he had driven an older fellow around a couple of years ago that was telling him about the shipwreck. When asked how he knew, the fellow told him that he had been one of the crewmembers in board when she went down.

Archeological sites have been discovered on the island that date back to 1500 BC. There is also a castle on the island built by the OBrien family that owned the island up until 1585. Like most strongholds in Ireland it was partially destroyed in 1652 by Cromwellians. We walked across the island and visited the Holy Well of St. Edna, a site most revered by the islanders. It is said that seeing an eel in the well is a very good omen; no eel when we were there, so no good omen.

We went to the contemporary arts centre to see what was there; it appears to have been permanently closed.

Boarding the ferry there was some commotion on the dock with music and a large crowd of people. It turned out to be a blessing of the fleet. These are the Galway Hookers, a traditional craft in the area that have been in use for at least two hundred years. The large examples were used to transport peat for fuel to the Aran Islands and brought back limestone for the acidic soil in Connemara. The smaller ones were used for fishing and transport. All of them had black hulls from the pitch coating and red-brown sails with two foresails and a single main; they are a very nice looking sailing craft.

We took the ferry back and stayed on board for the hour cruise along the base of the Cliffs of Mohr. These cliffs are up to 700 feet tall and very dramatic; the interesting thing about them is that they have very definate start and stop points with Doolin port right at the north end. The rock is mostly shale and sandstone with the bottom of the cliff rock dating to 300 million years ago. The cliffs support huge rookeries of birds with 29 species and about 30,000 birds in the area. As you may guess this makes a boat trip at the bottom of the cliffs an adventure; the lady sitting next to mom got the special suprise. After returning to Doolin harbour we drove up to the top of the cliffs. They have built a very nice visitor’s center next to the cliffs; it is built into the hillside and was designed to blend into the surroundings. The views are dramatic and for the adventuresome there is a path running the length of the top of the cliffs once you get away from the visitor center area; slipping is not recommended. 🙂

After supper at the pub mom and Bonnie retired to the B&B and I went down to McDermotts. The music was all very well done trad and a couple of young ladies danced. People pushed a couple of tables back and one of the young ladies did the broom dance to celebrate her parents anniversary. Another got up and danced for grins. It was spontaneous and great fun. Turned in about 11:00 for the drive to Bunratty tomorrow.

Slante, Pat

 

Approaching the dock at Inisheer

Approaching the dock at Inisheer

The horse cart we rode in.  Its a fancy new one, even has brakes!

The horse cart we rode in. Its a fancy new one, even has brakes!

O'Brien Castle on Inisheer

O'Brien Castle on Inisheer

The productive fields on Inisheer

The productive fields on Inisheer

An unprepared field on Inisheer

An unprepared field on Inisheer

The wreck of the Plassey

The wreck of the Plassey

The Holy Well of St. Edna

The Holy Well of St. Edna

Part of the Galway fleet being blessed

Part of the Galway fleet being blessed

A Galway Hooker under sail, nice looking boat.

A Galway Hooker under sail, nice looking boat.

Cliffs of Moher from sea level.

Cliffs of Moher from sea level.

Cliffs of Moher, the structure on the top is O'Brien's Tower

Cliffs of Moher, the structure on the top is O'Brien's Tower

The Cliffs of Moher looking south.

The Cliffs of Moher looking south.

The Cliffs of Moher looking north.

The Cliffs of Moher looking north.

The visitor center at the Cliffs of Moher.  Nicely integrated into the terrain.

The visitor center at the Cliffs of Moher. Nicely integrated into the terrain.

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