The west coast of Ireland never disappoints. The unexpected is nearly always just round the next corner if one takes time to not rush to the next must see location. This requires a discipline to allow oneself to enter the ambient world of one’s surroundings; and of its people.

In the rural west, this attribute comes easily as one is swept along at the pace of the locals. In doing so one soon discovers oneself making eye contact with others, taking time to smile and utter greetings such as ‘Good morning’ which are reciprocated and can lead to having a warm enjoyable dialogue with a local who, more often than not, will make a suggestion that only a local can make. Without realising it one is relaxing and, after the holiday, it is the people who one meet that makes the holiday so memorable.

The suggestion to visit the highest sea cliffs in Europe was so memorable; or at least the directions to them was memorable. Go through Killybegs and head for Kilcar and Carrick. At Carrick turn left at the coffee shop, open the gate, close the gate and drive on for about a mile. The directions were spot on except I could not see the coffee shop on the way to the cliffs but saw it on the way back. (The road signs were more than adequate.) The gate was a galvanised steel farm gate. When the car park was reached, the first sight of the cliffs was a wow moment. The scale of the good sized fishing boat, that was at the base of the 2000 foot cliffs, against the height of the cliffs was like comparing a woodlouse against the height of a three storey building. It was magical evening; Galway Bay was like a sheet of glass as I rested my folded arms on the wooden fence guarding the drop. I was in the moment, at peace with myself savouring the moment. What felt like thirty minutes turned out to be an at peace moment that lasted over two hours. Upon returning to the car park I witnessed other tourists, who had come further than me, having unintentionally locked their car keys in their hire car.

The value of not rushing was again to the fore two days later on a trip to Inishmore. Inishmore is the largest of the Aran Islands off the coast on Ireland’s west coast. Ferries leave regularly from a number of ports on the County Clare coast to each of three main islands. The farthest from the mainland is Inishmore which approximately one and a half hours from the Clare port of Doolin. The sea voyage is a great way to relax and meet fellow travellers and locals as one is thrown against fellow passengers by the sea swell. The wreck on the smallest and closest of the three Aran Islands to the mainland looks very familiar. It is the intro to Father Ted. The wreck of the MV Plassy, which was a former Second World War British naval trawler, got caught in a severe storm in Galway Bay in March 1960 and ran aground on Inisheer. A few weeks later another storm lifted the stranded vessel off the rocks and left it higher on rocky Inisheer. I wonder if the removal of some of the cargo from the original grounding had anything to with the subsequent floatation. The original cargo included (Irish) whiskey!

Upon arriving on Inishmore at the port of  Kilronan a tour guide offers to show us round the island. After agreeing a price, the guide directs us to behind the visible row of minibuses some one hundred yards away at the end of long shed. The singular me had become us over the course of the sea journey through conversing with fellow passengers. Behind the minibuses there was only a horse and trap. What a way to sample Inishmore. The exhaust flumes beat those of the combustion engine!

What a way to remember Inishmore and fellow travellers. Without adopting the pace of the locals, it is unlikely that I would have enjoyed the craic (Irish word for fun), that filled the air with the sound of laughter and put smiles on faces. Smiley people seem to be more approachable and relaxed; it is infectious, so embrace the ambience of the locals. It does wonders for one’s wellbeing

  • Andrew Todd
  • : Early retiree who loves travel, meeting people and observing the natural world.
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  • : adult_(19_and_over_as_of_31st_december_2019)
  • : This is the first time this story has been published.