A few minutes from the Cliffs of Moher sits the small town of Doolin. Within four years since my last visit, it seems others are catching on to the magic and tranquility of this place. A stone cottage sits across the stream, glowing like a Thomas Kinkade painting. This is the Allie River Hostel, directly across the stone bridge from Fitz's Pub. Four years ago, 35 euros got me a private room for the night. With fluctuations in the economy and local popularity, it's changed in bed value but is still one of the cheapest overnights you can find at around 50 euros.
The owner is named Robert Shannon, a kind man in his late 60s-early 70's. You can find him caring for the place or walking with his dog on the high roads. For 20 euros, a local driver by the name of John Sheely will take you to the cliffs or to wherever you'd like to go. John grew up in this small community and the past children who were once playing in the fields are now the elder guides and caretakers of these world wonders, waving at one another as they serve travelers from near and far. Doolin feels like you've stepped back in time a bit, or gives the feeling that all of the chaos in the world has not reached them. This is why I arrived for one night and stayed five. Chances are, I may help Robert with the hostel for a few months at the end of 2023. I am hoping the quiet will rock me in arms of comfort from the constant fear and complaining of the new world. Some say I am hiding my head in the sand. I say I am living in the sandcastle as the rest of the world crumbles.
The first time I ever visited Ireland, I had an agenda; to escape pain and run towards a new purpose. I was traveling solo when I came upon Doolin and the Allie River Hostel. I slept for most of the days and at nightfall, I walked across the bridge to Fitzpatick's Bar (Fitz's Pub). I was innocently excited to connect with other musicians. There was a lad, a guitarist, who sang and played with all his heart. Together, we ended up leading a group singalong after-hours and had a grand time. As people left, he and I sat at the bar chatting. At some point, after a couple more pints, his attitude grew cold. He went on about "American women" and began seething about independence and the feminist agenda. My heart hurt and the air around me grew thick (as it does when a person decides to turn beautiful moments into rants from their deep personal insecurities). I told him the only agenda I knew of was "to be treated as kindly and dignified as you boys treat one another" and asked if that was "too much to ask?"
He slammed his empty glass on the bar, stood to his feet, and in front of the patrons he yelled that I was a typical American woman and walked out with his guitar. Saddened by this parting, I asked another man sitting next to me at the bar if he observed all that. He laughed and said the boy was young. This older gentleman was staying in a hostel near my own, so I offered to help him across the bridge (since he was quite wobbly). He was grateful. Halfway across the stone bridge, he paused and I thought he might pass out. He looked at me with glazed eyes and said, "You know what?" And like a slow-motion horror moment on screen, he closed his eyes, puckered his lips, and went in for the "lean." I dodged it and in one kung fu fluid motion, turned him back around and walked him back to the pub. I sat him down at the bar and said to the bartender, "He's all yours." After two pats on his back, I walked into the quiet cold of Doolin and never saw any of them again. These memories have become quite typical of my solo travels. Perhaps even safer tales than could have been told by another opinionated afab. I'm grateful for a sharp tongue and a quick reflexes.
The tower was built on the cliffs in 1835 by the local landlord and MP Sir Cornelius O’Brien as an observation point for the English tourists who frequented the area at the time.
It is said to have initially served as a teahouse or folly. From this vantage point on a clear day, you can see the Aran Islands and the Twelve Bens of Connemara across Galway Bay (Cliffs of Moher).
Hiking trails along the Cliffs of Moher (East).
There have been obvious "improvements" to the trails at the top of the cliffs. Four years ago, there were no fences or neatly-paved walking trails. I do miss the rough, muddy walk I once had, where I imagined I was exploring nature hundreds of years ago with the wind kissing my face.