Ireland truly was a special place for me, but for some reason I hadn’t written much about it. I was blown away by the friendly locals and stunning countryside, but had trouble finding the words to describe the beauty of it.
That was, until I reviewed my photos and realized that I simply couldn’t fail to pass along information on the amazing west coast attractions.
I was very surprised to learn that this is actually the least fertile part of Ireland, given I come from the desert and this looked pretty darn green and lush to me, not to mention it boasts some amazingly gorgeous beaches that you can get almost completely to yourself (check that link for another idea of a great way to spend a day in this area).
The area was hit very hard by the potato blight as well as emigration, resulting in a relatively small population as compared to the past, which these days makes for a great array of off the beaten path adventures:
The Great Western Greenway
Hop on a bicycle and cycle the Great Western Greenway, aptly named as the view along the entire ride is rewarding as is the exercise kick. The entire greenway stretches for 42 km along the western Irish coast from Westport to Achill.
Check out this map for a better idea of where to bike and where to eat some amazing Irish cuisine along the way.
Cliffs of Moher
Though arguably firmly on the tourist trail, the Cliffs of Moher are wildly popular for a reason.
Easily accessed as a day trip from both Dublin and Galway (though it’s a mighty long bus ride from the former), these cliffs are well worth taking a look at. If you’re lucky, you’ll get them on a day as clear as I did:
Cnoc Suain in Spiddal
Stop at the Cnoc Suain a few miles outside of Galway – a restored 17th century Connemara hill-village set on 200 acres of bogland.
The family that lives there has committed their lives to educating visitors more about Irish culture, the ties of western Ireland to the bogs and the importance of peet as fuel, as well as some traditional Irish music and dancing.
Visitors can even stay here overnight in one of the cottages, which in hindsight I absolutely would have done. It’s incredibly peaceful and warmly welcoming at the same time.
Though I certainly can’t consider myself Irish, given my family has been in the United States since the Mayflower, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat connected to this part of the world, and its history. Part of my heritage is Irish (I believe my surname is as well), which had me wondering about my forefathers who walked these very same fields.
I wonder how they felt about the bogs, how hard it was to leave this beautiful place for the bustle and confusion of the United States, and if they ever missed it.
I feel lucky to have seen it for myself.
Have you been to western Ireland or are you planning to go?