As we left our beloved Doolin, we headed south along the Wild Atlantic Way, the road that parallels the western coast of Ireland with often stunning views of the sea. Our first destination was Loop Head, encouraged by Sean the owner of our Doolin B&B. A lighthouse adorns the head (or what we would call a point), and Mom was eager to visit a lighthouse.
South of Lahinch we entered the small town of Quilty. Our cabbie a few days before had suggested visiting the church there, dedicated to the victims of a shipwreck. The region draws attention to shipwrecks, particularly those of the Spanish Armada along its shores.
As we parked to enter the church, the cold wind blew off the ocean. The small sanctuary dedicated to Mary, Star of the Sea was decorated with simple, but poignant stained glass.
We continued our drive along this peninsula jutting out into the north Atlantic, with the landscape becoming increasing more spare and the villages taking on a more remote feeling. However, there was a Trump International golf course.
As we neared Loop Head a sign directed us to another scenic spot, the Bridges of Ross. We stopped in the car park and watched massive waves pounding the dark, jagged rocks.
We pulled up to the lighthouse only to learn that it was unexpectedly closed. We weren't the only potential visitors to be disappointed, as cars continued to pull in, empty their passengers who took time to wrap up in coats and scarves before walking to the gate, only to walk disappointingly back to their cars. However, Kelli and I decided to look around.
The point sits atop tall cliffs, a barren point surrounded by the cold, violent ocean. I stood a while alone on this almost westernmost point of Europe, listening to the waves and the wind.
From Loop Head we drove along the Shannon River estuary to the ferry, a twenty-minute passage across the wide river, passing from County Clare into County Kerry, where the landscape changed dramatically to a multitude of rich greens and quaint cottages adorning picturesque farms. We drove to Tralee for lunch, walking through their rose garden.
And then we drove again along the Wild Atlantic Way as we entered the Dingle Peninsula. We elected not to take the narrow and winding Connor Pass in the slowing fading light (my mom and sister both have histories of motion sickness). Early evening we arrived in Dingle, in time for only a little browsing and shopping, as the stores were closing. The next day we'd see more of the wild Atlantic as we drove round the Dingle Peninsula.