Mom, Katie, and I decided to spend a few days in County Cork, so we booked 2 nights an Airbnb apartment between the villages of Balleylickey and Kealkill. The plan was to pack as much scenic drive time into 3 days as we possibly could.
Katie wanted to visit the Aran Islands, so on Wednesday (June 15) she caught a bus from Eyre Square to the ferry from Ros á Mhíl, about 25 miles west of Galway. She spent several hours on Inisheer, the smallest of the three islands, cycling around the entire island before catching another ferry to Doolin. I had a meeting at the school and then Mom and I drove to Doolin and met Katie at the Doolin pier (video), where we boarded one of the Doolin Ferries for a cruise to see the Cliffs of Moher from the sea.
The cruise was a lot like a roller coaster ride on the water (video). It was a gray day with wind and occasional rain. The seas were choppy, and we realized shortly after choosing inside seats on the lower deck of the small boat that we weren’t going to be able to see anything out the windows. So the three of us made our way to the top deck and claimed some of the chairs that were bolted to the deck. The boat tilted far to the left, then far to the right, then the bow went up in the air, then down. It was great fun! Fortunately none of us got seasick, since by the time we reached the mid-point of the 1-hour cruise the swells had grown quite a bit.
After the cruise, we enjoyed what I think is the best fish and chips in the west of Ireland at Gus O’Connor’s pub in Doolin. So good! If you ever get the chance to go there, do! And eat the fish & chips! You won’t regret it.
We finished our meal around 5pm and took off for our Airbnb, knowing that we had about 3.5 hours to drive. We had decided to take the car ferry across the Shannon Estuary, so I plugged our route to Killimer into Google Maps. The gps took us cross-country on (my favorite!) smaller roads, where we encountered 2 stretches of road unlike I any other piece of road I’ve ever encountered. You know Tim and I love to roadtrip, right?! Well, I’ve never seen anything like this.
As we came over the top of a small hill, a beautiful ribbon of road as wide as about 1.5 widths of our little car (a Ford Fiesta) stretched downhill and back up and distant hill. Lined with hedges and walls, it was like a little rollercoaster just waiting to be driven! I could see to the top of the next hill and the road was completely empty, so I put the pedal to the metal and we roared (well, as much as a Fiesta can roar) down the hill. I couldn’t stop grinning! It was brilliant! I wanted to go back and do it again, but we had a ferry to catch. So we continued onward.
A few minutes later, to my complete surprise, we topped another hill and saw a nearly-identical stretch of road out in front! Since we were still alone on the road, I stopped and asked Katie to film us speeding down the hill (video)…what a blast! Best. Road. EVER! The picture below doesn’t really do it justice, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the virtual ride.
We enjoyed the 20-minute sail across the Shannon Estuary, which allowed Mom to see her first Irish lighthouse. Upon disembarking the ferry at Tarbert, we continued to drive on to our Airbnb. The light was gorgeous and the scenery matched the light, particularly in the final 30 minutes before reaching our destination!
Some of the highlights of the day for me included:
- The jokes and conversation on the cruise with a boisterous man Brit.
- Standing at the rail and “riding” the swells with the wind and rain in my face.
- The super-tasty fish and chips at Gus O’Connor’s.
- The rollercoaster cruise and rollercoaster road.
We found our apartment to be just as described (video), and each of us claimed a place to sleep for the next 2 nights. A quick meal, some work, and some planning for Thursday, and finally to bed at 1:30am.