Ireland. If you deconstruct the sound of the word Ireland, it sounds very similar to Island. Ireland is an Island but had you not seen its splotch on a grand old map with a birds eye view, you would never be able to tell.
Modernization, the internet and budget travel options connect us in ways that bring down the barriers that islands previously imposed. One person’s barrier is another’s comfortable safe haven however.
Malin Head, Inishoen Peninsula
Malin Head on the Innishoen Peninsula is the northern tip of Ireland. Some of the rocky areas feel like another planet. Standing at the edge of Malin head overlooking the crashing North Atlantic waves wakes you to the wondrous treachery of the ocean. A sharp wind tearing through the countryside seems intent on knocking sheep into kingdom come, or sweeping visitors off across the North Atlantic.
Slieve League Cliffs
We were instructed as we arrived at the docks for our marine expedition that we would need to leave immediately, or might not at all on account of the changing weather.
We departed for Slieve League cliffs on a little fishing boat and the rough waves rocked our boat from side to side. The “ack, I just might die” feeling has arisen before on boats of various size and capability. A body reacts to the uneasiness of the ocean throwing you around with tension. This tension kicks your human instinct for survival into gear. Without this tension, perhaps you would casually make a mistake and topple over the edge into the icy white-capped waters.
After 30 minutes holding on for dear life and taking pictures and video of fiercely rugged cliffs with low white misty fog-like clouds, we rounded a bend into a calm bay. A family of dolphins hopped out of the water and came within a few meters of the boat. Some of our brave group sported wet suits and took a dip in the Atlantic. The dolphins started out keeping a distance, but came eventually quite close to the two boats. Slieve League is among the highest cliffs in Europe and an awesome sight.
Strandhill Beach, Sligo County
Voya Seaweed Baths is a stone’s throw from surf schools, shells cafe and Strandhill beach. If you fancy a stop in the northern part of the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland’s coast, this one is worth the time.
Seawater is used in the baths together with cleaned and prepared seaweeds directly from the waters near Sligo. A private steam/shower accompanies the bath treatment in each room. Two friends who had been to Sligo recommended these baths, and I will now add my name to the list. The tub contained a seaweed preparation in several inches of warmish water. To this you add your own combination of hot or cold water, to your own design. The mixture in the tub was a gelatinous transparent thick solution with a very slight colored tint in it.
There was surprisingly little smell to the solution which made for a pleasant soak in the bath as an ocean-waves soundtrack played in the background dissolving one’s every tensions.
Dinner in Buncrana
“Hello, you’re all very welcome,” Our group was greeted as we poured over the menu picking out the items for our starters and dinner.
We decide on a cross section of appetizers to sample the best and share what Ubiquitous restaurant had to offer. Sole stuffed pastry. Spring rolls. Deep fried shrimps. Deliciousness.
After these, a filling dinner, tasty desserts and some irish coffees, a group photo outside attracted the attention of the passerby’s car horns. Perhaps they just wanted the cameraman to clear way. We piled into a local pub afterwards where locals sang along with the live entertainment as glasses clinked, pints flowed and one from our group tried to negotiate a bet involving dancing in a traditional irish costume while someone played spoons on her. This deal fell through. Guinness sometimes does not aid in negotiation ability. Our short time in the hospitable town of Buncrana, came to an end too soon.
This ancient stone monument roughly 10km’s from Derry/Londonderry was believed to have been constructed sometime in the 5th century BC as a Pagan temple, later being adopted by the Christians. The O’Neil clan used it as a royal residence for many centuries. The sweeping views of the area would easily attract both royal and religious associations.
To be continued in: Irish Tales Part 2