Well today was a little bit of magic. I was invited by Doolin Ferry to come along and have a trip to the Aran Islands with them.
It was a day of firsts as I’ve never been to Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher or any of the Islands and today I got to see all of these!
It was an early start to the day with me leaving home just before 6am. I was worried about Gilbert (my old car) doing the journey, last year when I explored Mayo I had the Opel ADAM which McCormacks kindly let me borrow. Anyway Gilbert was grand..phew!
Doolin is a very pretty village, just what you would think Ireland should look like. I arrived early so I got to have a little look around before the ferry left.
I was delighted to see Dusty the Dolphin swimming around by the pier. The photo doesn’t do her justice, she really is a beautiful creature.
I meet Bill O’Brien who started Doolin Ferry Company back in 1970. He started with a curragh (a traditional boat) and has built up the business over the years. When you travel on The Doolin Ferry you’ll be on the safest boat possible and it’s the shortest and fastest crossing to the Aran Islands so be sure to #bookwithbill!
It took me a while to decide which island to visit but as I was just going on a day trip I decided to go to Inis Oirr (Inisheer), the smallest of the islands and the nearest one to the mainland. The ferry trip took around 30 minutes and was very comfortable.
I had to laugh when we arrived to the island. There was a queue of pony and traps waiting to take visitors on a tour. There were also a couple of tractor tours…I loved The Craggy Island Ecumenical Tour!
You can also hire a bike if you fancy exploring the island that way. As for me I just used my feet and went walking.
First port of call was The Plassey Shipwreck. The ship got into trouble on a stormy night in 1960 and was washed onto the island.
If you’ve ever watched Father Ted the ship appears in the opening credits. It’s very striking and was one of the first things I spotted on our journey to Inis Oirr.
I carried on to O’Brien’s Castle which is one of the highest points of the island. The castle is thought to have been built in the 14th century and the view from it is stunning.
Exploring the island was magical. Dry stone walls, patchwork fields, the smell of wild flowers, the beautiful blue sky, waves lapping along the shore, birds flying over head and of course the tractor tours – these are all memories that will stay with me from today. As well as the children speaking Irish. It was like stepping back in time.
After all my walking I called into ‘Teach an Tae’, a lovely coffee shop on the island. I had a gorgeous rhubarb and almond tart and a pot of tea. There was even a turf fire on the go. I sat outside to make the most of the beautiful weather. I really did pick the perfect day to visit.
As if seeing the island wasn’t enough when I got back on the ferry we went for a tour of the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are 214m (702 feet) at their highest point and are the most visited attraction in Ireland. The sea stack was once part of the Cliffs of Moher and is a sign of what erosion can do. The stack is home to hundreds of birds, I was hoping to see a puffin as I’ve never seen one but no luck this time.
I have hundreds of photos to go through which I will add a link to when I have them uploaded…it won’t be tonight though as I’m quite tired. The drive was three hours each way, in the words of the song – It’s a long way from Clare to here! I’d love to go back again to explore more of Clare and the Aran Islands but next time I’d like to stay overnight.
Sincere thanks to Bridgette and The Doolin Ferry for inviting me along. You can find their website here and I’d highly recommend a trip with them.