After saying goodbye to Mme Len and Mothei (Read about it here), I had one day to spend by myself in Galway before travelling to Dublin on my way onto Vienna. I was often miserable in Ireland because of the weather. My goodness, it was freezing and the everyday rain! How on earth do Irish peeps cope without the constant sun? Apart from walking around town, I decided to take a bus tour around the city which ended at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s most famous touristic site. There were a few sites along the way, but the Cliffs were a highlight. 22nd country ✅, 173 to go.
1. Cliffs of Moher (€10)
I really apologize for not capturing the cliffs with the WONDER that they are. I think firstly it was because I still need to learn how to take proper photos with my iPhone or I should just invest in an actual camera. Two, the position of the sun at the time (13h00-ish) we arrived. Since the sun was in the direction of the cliffs, I could not get a great shot and thirdly, it was FREEZING so my poor fingers were just numb!!! I think one has a better chance of capturing the cliffs in all their glory in the afternoon towards sunset. There is a left and right side to see the Cliffs. Both of which are quite a journey to reach. Ok, it was not THAT far, the weather made it seem so. The O’Briens Tower is on the right-hand side path, which is quite a steep walk up from the Information Centre, and the best place I think to see the cliffs. You can also go towards the left-hand side and from there you can see the O’Briens Tower and other ‘smaller’ cliffs. By the time you get to the Tower though, breathless (not from the view although the cliffs are breathtaking – I am unfit) and face frozen, you are captivated by these giant cliffs. They look like they just grew from the sea.
So in a nutshell, these are sea cliffs which go as high as 214 metres off the Atlantic Ocean on the South-Western part of Ireland. From the Tower, one can also see the Aran Islands, just off Galway Bay. I wanted to see these islands but time wasn’t on my side. The site has an impressive Information Centre where one can learn more about the rich archaeological and geological history of this region. I took warmth refuge in the centre where there are about 2 restaurants and a souvenir shop.
2. Poulnabrone (A Burren Geosite)
This tomb was constructed over 5000 years ago from great slabs in karst limestone. Honestly although I was amazed by the fact that it has stood the test of time (5000 years!), the site did not do much for me in the way of interest, but those who were geologists and archaeologists on my tour bus were mesmerized.
3. Dunguaire Castle
4. Kilfenora Cathedral and High Crosses
The tour does about 5 or 6 stops on the tour, but the ones above are the ones I thought were worth a mention.
I spent the night in Galway (post loading on this – yes there’s a story) and headed to Dublin on a 2.5hour bus trip the next morning, Saturday, 16 November 2019. One of things I absolutely love to do when touring a new place is taking a Hop-on/Hop-off bus. What I love about this is that it gives one a nice overview of the city and what it offers. These are also excellent because apart from the value some of them offer when packaged with entrance to some of the sites, one can hop on and off at leisure and concentrate on or return to sites of interest since you get to see a bit of everything. I bought a 24-hour pass Hop on/Hop off which included a single airport link (€25) to use for the trip to the airport, and so off I went exploring Dublin.
5. Kilmainham Gaol (€9)
Gaol is pronounced ‘jail.’ Yeah I know! Old North French. This is probably the second most famous tourist site in Ireland (my own love index) and one I loved the most. I love people stories. Executions were a norm here. I think of this as the mini Robben Island of Ireland. It was opened in 1796 and ceased operating as a jail in 1924. I love ruins right? Not to say this jail is a ruin, but there’s something about its ‘past-your-primeness’ that I found strikingly beautiful. Is it politically correct to find a prison beautiful? As you can see with the pictures, I could not get enough. I took part in the 1-hour guided tour and loved every minute of it.
This jail hosted a number of revolutionary prisoners including Éamon de Valera who was initially sentenced to death but later released. He became Ireland’s third president. Another prominent prisoner named Grace Plunkett (née Gifford) whose Madonna and Child Muriel can be seen through her cell’s peephole, had been arrested for drawing political cartoons during Ireland’s struggle for freedom. She married her lover, Joseph Plunket (also once a prisoner at Kilmainham) a few hours before he was executed for taking part in the 1916 Easter Rising. The wedding ring and a photo of their union are on exhibition at the museum in Kilmainham and we weren’t allowed to take photos there. Grace, although only 28 at the time, never remarried. One of the many notable executions was that of four prisoners; Peter Cassidy, James Fisher (whose harrowing last letter to his mom is on display at the museum), John Gaffney, and Richard Twohig. This was to become Kilmainham’s last execution in 1922. Also to be noted is that this jail was used for ordinary citizens (men & women) who had committed other non-political crimes as well.
As you can tell, this was my most favourite site. I can write for days about story after story of people who were held here.
Interestingly, when I got off the bus, I could not find the site after following the driver’s instructions. When I asked the locals, they didn’t know what I was talking about. It was probably partly because of my pronunciation of ‘gaol’, but also I think it is because as locals, do we actually care about the tourist attractions around us? How many of us actually tour and know our countries? Having lived in Botswana for three years, I am embarrassed to answer this question. Moving swiftly along…
6. Famine memorial
This site is the endpoint of the National Famine Walk on the banks of River Liffey along the North Wall Quay (R801), one of the busiest and most famous roads in Dublin. The 165km walkway starts at the National Famine Museum in Strokestown Park and ends here in commemoration of the tragic and deadly journey of some 1490 people who were forced to flee Ireland’s worst famine in 1847. This Hunger monument right on the street reminds me of Danube Shoe memorial in Hungary, Budapest. Such sites are an every day in-your-face reminder of what should never be repeated in human history.
“Whenever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty.” Joseph Wresinksi
7. Oscar Wilde
Mr controversy! I just knew this name in literature circles so it caught my eye during the city bus. I had read The Nightingale and the Rose and did not remember that it was by him or that he was Irish. I actually had to google him and read up on him when I got to the hotel at the end of the day. A story for another day. This statue can be found at the Merrion Square Playground, just across the road from his childhood home.
8. Dublin City through pictures
These photos are a summary of what I saw as I walked around the city or when I was on the bus.
I went to church Y’all. Mom would be proud :). I loved me some City Church Dublin peeps. The Word was by Mark Smith on the title ‘Genesis’ which touched on racism, and diversity! Loved it, recorded it, please find it here. Honestly I woke up this Sunday morning and I was not feeling this travelling thing. I did not feel like doing anything so I slept in. Ever felt like that on a trip? This was the second time this happened to me and I have a theory. I will write about it one day. I rememeber I also experienced the same thing in Guadeloupe. I googled churches although I knew it was late already (11am) and this one popped up, AND they had a 12 noon service so I kicked off the blankets and went to worship. Best decision.
I walked around Dublin for 3 days and never recognized “The Spire,” also known as the “Monument of Light.” It turns out I walked past it so many times right on a very busy and popular O’Connell Street. Makes me realise how much we walk looking down or just looking in front of us. After I read about it, I went looking for it and wondered how on earth I ever missed it.
The famous Temple Bar in the heart of Dublin City.
The building of this Christ Church Cathedral is unreal! I could not get enough of it. It looks 3D.
Ha’ penny Bridge AKA Liffey Bridge. This was the first pedestrian bridge constructed in 1816 to join the two Leffey-River separated parts of the city. People were intially charged half a penny to use it, hence the name.
The queue outside the Guinness Storehouse!!!
Photos randomly taken around the city