Written by Swati
March 30th 2023
At dawn we break. Well at dawn I break to go find my tour bus through Wild Rover Tours for my day trip to the Cliffs of Moher! Our tour guide is effectively an enthusiastic elementary school teacher, sprinkling in fun facts about Ireland and Irish history throughout the tour and her light hearted commentary distract from the fact that we have a 3 hour bus journey starting at 7am to reach the cliffs. We take a quick pit stop at the Obama Plaza, a gas station dedicated to Barack Obama, who apparently is a descendant of the Moneygall Obamas. When we make it to the cliffs around 11, I’m struck by the pure wonder of the thrashing waves against cliffs that go on for miles. I only have 2 hours there before we head off to Galway, so I immediately start down the path to the right.
Let me say it here first and foremost: I’m really not a nature gal. I’d rather spend a day in a bookstore or art museum than go on a hike, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I endured snow, rain, wind, and slivers of sunshine at the cliffs and every minute felt like a new adventure. Even if I took my eyes off of them for a second, I’d gasp when they entered my line of sight again. I felt a sense of camaraderie with fellow travelers who were whipped by the strong wind and fought against nature to witness its beauty. It felt like walking through a wind tunnel, but being rewarded with more waves crashing in at every stopping point. The Cliffs of Moher truly feel like a wonder of the world. I walk my way over to the end of the official path and find a castle at the highest point. Arms outstretched, it feels very Titanic, but I say a little “I’m king of the world!” in honor of Leonardo DiCaprio’s legendary film and start the cautious trek up the treacherous path. The unofficial walking paths to the edge of the cliffs aren’t technically endorsed by the tourism office, but there are safety precautions and a trail, so I take the leap and make it about halfway up either end before reaching puddles too large to cross.
I eventually make my way back to the bus begrudgingly for the last leg of the trip to Galway and our tour guide teaches us some words in Irish and tells us of Irish hospitality. She tells us it used to be illegal to refuse housing to a traveler in Ireland and that food and entertainment, including an evening of storytelling and songs, were expected. I find Irish hospitality and gentleness to strike a chord in my heart. There’s such an affection for new people hidden in their sing-songy accents. When we reach Galway, I find another bookstore I want to visit and pick up a boba, a box of chocolates, and a Claddagh necklace on the way there. The Claddagh ring, a ring with a symbol of a heart held by two hands, has a unique history in Galway where women wore them on either hand and turned in different directions based on their relationship status. If it was worn on the left hand facing outwards, it meant a woman was single and ready to mingle. Left hand turned in meant she was seeing someone. Right hand turned outwards meant she was engaged and right hand turned inwards meant she was married. The ring’s code was a way for men to approach women on a night out, which the tour guide joked helped the awkward Irishmen land dates. On the way to the coast, I grab a box of fish and chips, and an order of oysters, to enjoy a seaside picnic. I’ve never had oysters before, and while I doubt I’d go out of my way to eat them again, I enjoyed the new experience and the splash of lemon juice. We culminate the tour with a round of old Irish pub songs that she sings with hints of melancholy and cheer at sunset and we part with a list of Dublin recommendations. I snapped a picture, but knew that the tour wore me out and I had a flight to catch in 10 hours back to Luxembourg.
Upon my arrival in Luxembourg the next morning, I felt like I’d just woken up from a dream. Even looking back at the pictures now, I can’t believe I saw the cliffs with my own eyes. And I had 2 full days to rest and recuperate, a first for the semester! If this stat homework and physics lab ever get done, I really get the best of both worlds this weekend.