Drove to Doolin for 9.30am, a small village with information center, coffee shops and hotels. Had a lovely coffee in the Sea Salt Café just over the bridge. Heading for Doolin Pier, a five minute drive out of the village, to board the ferry for the half hour trip to the island of Inis Oirr (Inisheer). There are a number of ferries servicing the Islands and I travelled with The Doolin Ferry Company to the island but also included their “Cliffs of Moher Cruise” for the return journey on my ticket.
I’m not one to talk about the Irish clichéd past (leprechauns, donkeys and thatched cottages) but prefer to dwell on the present and how the past influenced Ireland as it is today. The half hour boat trip gave me my first glimpses of this small island; beautiful dry stone walls, hill top forts and the small village, all remnants of the recent past lifestyle and island life. I met with Stiofan Deoighe (Tour Guide Tel: 086 6073230) on the Pier. Boarded his open trailer pulled by a tractor and settled onto the benches for a trip around the island. There were also horse and trap options to explore from. Heading in a southerly direction the landscape opened up in front of us. Small fields surrounded by dry stone walls, and stony coastline. This is “Craggy Island” as depicted in the TV Show “Father Ted”. Through the slight haze, the ghostly shape of the shipwreck “Plassy”, a cargo ship that ran between Limerick and Galway that grounded here on March 1960, now resting on this grey karst limestone scene, the rusting hull and the exposed seaweed giving the only colour against the grey, overcast skyline. Rounding the back of the island and climbing to the higher parts, we head for O’Briens Fort that commands a 360º view of the island. On the way back to the harbour, we called into “The Church of St Keevaun”, original building dating back to c10 Centaury, before calling to one of the pubs for lunch before catching the ferry at 2.00pm for the “Cliffs of Moher Cruise. The island is perfect for walking or sight seeing with one of the guides, or you may hire a bike from “Joyce Bike Hire” at the quay. (Martin Seoighe 086 3523462).
On the ferry again and heading for the Cliffs of Moher. It was a bit foggy which limited distant visibility. As we got nearer, the cliffs loomed out of this ghostly vista like a gigantic wall. As we closed in, the size of them became apparent. The cliffs are home to Ireland’s largest mainland seabird nesting colony with some 20species of nesting birds including 9 species of breeding seabirds and up to 30,000 breading pairs. These include the colourful Puffin, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Gannets to name a few. The stone layers of stone make perfect ledges for the nesting birds and the “Stacks” provide dramatic picture material for your memory book.