Galway Tour Company- Aran Islands and Cliffs tour
Where do I begin? Today was a day for the books. So far Ireland has been great- live music, beer, pubs. But NOTHING compares to this.
Let me first say that I don't have a bad thing to say about this tour. Best 40 Euro I've spent. Book your tour now, if you're lucky you'll get the guide Tom and it'll be more than worth it.
We started off the day at the Galway Coach Station. As soon as we boarded the bus our Tour Guide said that the weather "was shit" and we might not get to go under the cliffs on the ferry as we had hoped. A few groups left with fear of seasickness with the strong winds and large waves for the Ferry to the Aran Islands.
We we headed out the the Burren, which is basically rocky farmland in Ireland (see below) towards the small coastal town of Doolin. Both were incredibly beautiful despite the typical Irish weather.
The ferry ride was a different story. We were soaked only 10 minutes through the 40 minute journey and although we thought we had dressed warm, we were freezing only minutes in.
It should be noted that there are three Aran Islands and we went to only one - Innis Oirr. When we arrived we ran to one of three pubs on the island for a cup of hot coffee to hopefully wait out the storm, but even with the poor conditions, the island was amazing. It seemed untouched compared to modern cities and was basically as uncommercialized as a town could be. No street lights, no advertisements, no signs. Thanks to our tour guide though we got a little walking tour of the 290 person inhabited island. Included on the island are a fort dating back to the 10th century, a cemetery, a shipwreck and a lighthouse, along with plenty of houses,
The Island was unlike anything I've ever seen. Never have a I been surrounded by so much history, or really so many old things. There were structures on the island dating back to the 6th century. Our tour guide, and now friend, Tom, told us many interesting facts about the community on the island and the history and one of my favorites is a belief that the locals have. On one such time when it began to rain heavily, Tom took us into a crypt on the Island cemetery. A saint is buried there. Tom said that its believed if a person stays the night in the crypt with the Saint he will be healed of all ailments. There is even a stone "pillow" built in to the crypt just for that purpose.
We also checked out the O'Brien fort on the island before it was time to get back on the ferry and head to the cliffs. The ferry ride back was terrible. Not only was it raining again but the sea was rougher and we were rocking a serious amount. Anna was close to getting sick by the time we reached the cliffs and I was scared of going overboard by that point, but, alas. It was worth it. Don't get me wrong, the cliffs are amazing from above but I thought they were more impressive from the sea below. I felt so incredibly small aboard that boat next to these massive, beautiful cliffs. We were able to circle around a few of the single structures around the cliffs and catch a glimpse of the puffins who call the area home before heading back into Doolin for lunch.
Cant forget to note that if you're ever in Doolin you must stop for chocolate at The Doolin Fudge Shop- you can't miss it as there's really only one road in town.
On to the Cliffs. Typical Irish fashion again, a storm came rolling in right when we pulled up to the cliffs. We quickly ran to the pass on the right side of the visitors center but were a bit sad that a wall was blocking us from the cliffs. We headed the other way and encountered some serious mud and puddles as we made our way up to section of the cliffs that didn't have any barrier for us. As windy as it was I stayed nearly 10 feet from the edge as to not make any accidental flights over the cliffs, but the beauty was indescribable. From atop the cliffs we could see all of Doolin and part of Galway Bay and the greenest fields that were ever made. We joked that the cattle on the top of the cliffs had the best view in the World without even knowing it.