The drive from Connemara to Doolin took us a few hours, which went by quickly with nice scenery along the way.
Although I never got completely comfortable driving in Ireland, the uneasiness began to abate during this drive. Doolin is also on the coast and its location is ideal for exploring both the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. We opted for a budget stay at the Doonagore Farmhouse, which turned out to be a wise choice. The Doonagore Farmhouse is a combination B & B and small farm, which was a big selling point for the boys. Much to the boys’ delight, there were two newly born calves in the field adjacent to the B & B and a friendly donkey as well as a swing set. (To its credit, I never smelled even a trace of farm animals during our stay).
The location of Doonagore Farmhouse also made it ideal as it was a short drive from the town and less than three miles from the Cliffs of Moher. And, most significantly, Mary, the proprietor of Doonagore Farmhouse made our stay very enjoyable. The accommodations were quite reasonable, the food was good and Mary was a very caring host. Her presence never felt intrusive, yet, she was always there when we had a question or needed something. When our car didn’t start in Lehinge, she got worried and spoke to the car service for us. Mary also fielded telephone calls from my friend Ian who tracked me down at Doonagore Farmhouse and let me use her phone to return his calls. Mary was like having a mother looking out for you while you are staying at her B & B. And her mild-mannered and low key approach made for a welcoming atmosphere.
We dined at O’Connor’s our first night, which is Irish pub grub at its finest (I am still thinking about the baked salmon I had at O’Connor’s). They are known for traditional live Irish music, which we did get to sample, but really gets into full swing after hours.
Since it was only 7PM and still light out and the sun was shining, we decided to visit the Cliffs of Moher that first evening. That was a good move too as they stop collecting admission fees after 6PM so we got in and parked for free.
The Cliffs of Moher are spectacular. Much like the Grand Canyon, it is a place you have to experience in person to fully appreciate. We all enjoyed the hike up to the top and did a small section of the cliff walk, which I would also recommend (it was difficult with the boys as it is a tad dangerous given the heights so we played it safe and stayed far from the edge). It was very windy at the top, and the boys enjoyed running around with a tail wind that gave them Usain Bolt-type speed over 100 meters. From every vantage point at the top there are remarkable views and breathtaking vistas. We spent close to two hours at the cliffs and could have spent more had it not been after 9 pm (and it was still light out). After our first evening in Doolin, we forgot all about our car trouble from earlier in the day.
You can’t visit western Ireland without a trip to the Cliffs – definitely one of the highlights of our vacation.