5th Stop in Ireland: Doolin
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Now, I could spend hours and hours writing detailed pages with information on the things we did and saw in Doolin. It is an incredible spot. But to save you some time, I am going to condense everything as much as I can, while still giving you a thorough account of our incredible time here. After a long day of driving from Cork, around Slea Head, and through Limerick, we eventually arrived in the small village of Doolin.
Doolin has one main street lined with a handful of shops and restaurants. We stayed in a B&B just off this road called Twin Peaks, but there are a good amount of B&B's to choose from if you plan on staying in this village. If it is your first trip here, I do recommend staying near the main strip only because you have great access to everything by foot.
Because there are so many places to visit here, we want to highlight the three top "must see" things that we did during our stay:
Traditional Irish music is a big deal in Doolin. One of the first things our B&B host mentioned when we arrived was the night's line up. She gave us a few options for pubs that would be playing music, but recommended that above all we should head to McGann's Pub to see "Blackie" O'Connell play the traditional Irish pipes. We were so glad we followed her advice because the music and atmosphere of McGann's did not disappoint. We showed up on foot to a packed pub with people overflowing onto the front porch from the interior. Every seat in the house was taken, but by the time we squeezed through crowds of people to the bar, ordered our drink, and squeezed our way back near the pub's stage, we were lucky enough to find one seat which Ash graciously let me have.
Blackie's show amazed us. The talent and discipline it must have taken for him to play beautiful music from an instrument that complex is mind-boggling. An hour of listening to the band and three purchased CD's later, we hoofed it on foot [in the pitch black] back to our B&B for the night.
McGann's was not the only pub we had the pleasure of listening to live music at. The next night we spent a bit of time in a gorgeous, old, cellar-like pub called Gus O'Connor's. We sat down in a cozy nook and listened to the band playing a few booths down from us. I would recommend this pub for its atmosphere alone.
SHEEP DOG DEMONSTRATIONS
Two of our three dogs are Border Collies. When the time came to start planning our trip itinerary, we did a lot of research on where we could go to see sheep dog demonstrations. We decided on Caherconnell Fort. Not only did this place serve as a pupper demonstration area, but it also contained an ancient ring fort that you could walk around and explore.
We visited Caherconnell during a torrential downpour. It wasn't the greatest day to watch sheep herding, but the weather didn't stop the demonstration. Those dogs were amazing- the rain didn't faze them. As we sat under an overhang, we watched the owner whistle different commands that the dogs followed perfectly. Afterwards the owner chatted with the group, answering questions that we all had while the dogs and sheep rested.
One of the highlights was the retired pup that hung out with the crowd during the demonstrations. Sally was over 20 years old, and had put in her herding work years before. She spent most of them time walking around, saying her hellos, and getting her pets.
We spent some time touring the ring fort after the demonstration was complete, but with the weather being as rainy as it was, we ended up heading out shortly afterwards. Caherconnell is near the Burren, so we took a couple of hours to drive around the National Park. It was incredible. The rain and fog gave the area a mysterious vibe, and as we made our way through winding roads and miles of interesting landscape, we felt a sense of calm and relaxation. We circled the area and then headed back to our B&B in Doolin.
CLIFFS OF MOHER
When I first went to Ireland in March of 2010, I had heard about the Cliffs of Moher. It was a pretty popular place from what I had gathered. It wasn't until my fourth trip here in 2018 that we were finally was able to fit it into our schedule, and it did not disappoint. At some point, whether it is your first trip, or your 15th, you will need to try and get to the cliffs.
The day's showers had left our schedule up in the air, and at one point we weren't sure that we'd even be able to visit the cliffs during our trip. But as the evening went on, the clouds broke and the sun began to shine through. We quickly drove to the entrance of the visitor center (only a 15 minute trip). The visitor's center was built into the side of the cliff, and almost looks like a giant hobbit dwelling. We bought our tickets and headed in.
The first part of the cliffs tour, if you wish to partake in it, is the visitor center's exhibit. It gave us information on various wildlife inhabiting the area and the history of the land formation. It was pretty interesting and worth the visit, but we didn't stay long because we were ready to walk the cliff side.
We started our walk near O'Brian's Tower which was just up from the visitor's center. The wind was fierce, and we had fun trying to run into it without falling over. The area near the tower also offered great views of the cliff side, and we were able to capture some pretty amazing photos. From the tower we walked south along the cliff side. Do this at your own risk. The wind is very strong, there is minimal safety railings, and the drop...well... you are on a cliff. There were some people standing right on the edge to get the "perfect" photo, but I caution you to think about this before doing it. If you ask me, you can till get some pretty great pictures without risking your life.
Through muddy trails, and rocky paths, we walked the cliff side for about an hour as the sun started to set. If you choose to visit the cliffs, the best advice I can give (besides telling you to stay away from the edge) is to take this walk during the evening right before sunset. The warm light hit the cliff side in such an incredible way. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. We would have loved to keep hiking the trail (which did go a ways further), but figured we should head back while we still had some sunlight.
Doolin has so much to offer. We packed our two days here with as much as we could, but I know there is still so much to see. I hope these three things give some insight to the amazing things you can do here, but now I want to open the floor to others that have visited this area. Were there must-see places that we didn't mention? Please share your adventures with us!
I do ask that this stays a positive and safe space for readers, so please, no hurtful language or remarks about other's experiences. Thank you.