Walking out of our rooms at 6:30 in the morning, I wanted nothing more than to crawl back under the sheets and continue my sleep. But knowing how much I was looking forward to visiting the Cliffs of Moher and the city of Galway, I persevered. And it was well worth it! I should note that our tour bus had somehow overbooked today’s trip and there were more people waiting at the bus stop than the number of seats on the bus. Unlike our bus tour of the city of Dublin on Monday, this bus was open to public–and we had to wait awhile for the second bus to arrive. I was curious as to how the tour operating agency could overbook a bus with limited seats for the same time, especially considering that we all had to reserve in advance. Anyhow, we all got on the bus at 7:15AM and were greeted by our tour guide and driver, Suzanne and Jerry, who did a phenomenal job getting us to and back from the West Coast of Ireland.
I caught on to bits and pieces of information about the counties, provinces, and significant historical landmarks we were passing through on the way to the cliffs, and learned that today we traveled through 11 counties and 3 out of the 4 provinces in Ireland. The tourism industry is still recovering from the after-effects of the pandemic on a global level, and most tourism companies are slowly getting back into their routine, which might explain why there was a little bit of a mix-up with the tour buses this morning. In April of this year, Tourism Ireland resumed their in-person sales missions in the United States, thereby rolling out its biggest program of promotions ever in order to restart overseas tourism to Ireland post-pandemic. We stopped at the Barack Obama Plaza on our way to the cliffs, which, as the name suggests, featured billboards, attractions, and even merchandise featuring former-President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama from when they visited Ireland (they even had statues of the couple waving goodbye to us!). The Barack Obama Plaza was established to commemorate Obama’s presidency of the US, especially since his third great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, lived in Moneygall and emigrated to the US in 1850 due to the great famine. This was an unexpected tourist attraction on the way to Ireland’s heritage site, but it was most certainly a pleasant surprise.
The biggest surprise and the highlight of today was undoubtedly the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. We had the chance to walk up to the cliffs, take photographs, and just enjoy the view of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean from a height of almost 1 kilometre. To me, this was a calming and meditative experience–a much-needed break from my packed schedule and feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. The sound of the waves crashing across the black rocks combined with the sounds of the colony of seagulls flying near the cliff reminded me to appreciate the act of just being in nature without drowning out its sounds with social media and my headphones. Tomorrow, we will be visiting the mountains of Wicklow, Glendalough, and Kilkenny city–although we won’t be heading out as early as 6:30am so I can look forward to sleeping in a bit. It is sure to be yet another fulfilling day, and I cannot wait to tell you all about it!