Ireland 2015: Day 11 – Dingle to Doolin

Today I visited my ancestral hometown of Cahersherkin in County Clare, near Ennistymon.  I wish I could say I met some long-lost distant cousins, but that didn’t happen.  I did visit two cemeteries where Shannons and Finucanes are buried (both family names).  In fact, Cahersherkin is more like an area, not an actual town.

The crossroads in Cahersherkin, County Clare
The crossroads in Cahersherkin, County Clare

I asked a gentleman walking on the road if I was going in the right direction and he pointed down the street and told me it was at the crossroads.  The crossroads were two single lane roads through the local farmland.  I didn’t feel any strong pull telling me that this was home, but it was very neat to see.  I kept thinking that my ancestors could have helped to build the stone walls and buildings I was driving by.

My day didn’t start in Ennistymon though.  It started with some broken clouds in Dingle as I took the Conor Pass over the mountains to the north side of the peninsula.  I was able to squeeze in a visit to Fermoyle Beach before the showers set in.  I drove north for a while until I stopped in Ballylongford to visit the ruins of Carrigafoyle Castle and Lislaughtin Abbey.  It continues to amaze me that these structures are still standing and that you can just walk in and wander around.  The castle has 5 stories and you can climb the spiral stairs almost to the top.  When I was there, I had the place completely to myself.

Carrigafoyle Castle - Ballylongford
Carrigafoyle Castle – Ballylongford

I then took the ferry across the Shannon River from Tarbert to Kilrush and continued my journey to Ennistymon.  After that stop, I visited what is probably the number one tourist attraction in Ireland: the Cliffs of Moher.  The cliffs soar almost 400 feet above the crashing Atlantic waves.  They are beautiful, but I was not alone at all for that visit!

I continued on to Doolin and my hotel for the night, the Ballinalacken Castle Country House.  If that doesn’t sound like me, you’re right.  I’m not really a “stay in a guest house next to a castle” type of person.  (You might remember from my England trip that I’m also not a “stay in an old manor house” type of person.)  The room is lovely, but not my style at all!  I knew from my research that there was a silver lining to staying here though… a tour of the castle before dinner!  We climbed up the hill to the castle, and there was a beautiful white horse just laying in front of the castle.  Picture perfect!  We proceeded to climb all the way up to the tippity top of the castle.  When I say tippity top, I literally mean balanced on a small ledge with a short wall to hold onto for stability.  You can see the Cliffs of Moher off in the distance.  It was incredible!  My day ended with a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Ireland 2015 1531
Ballinalacken Country House Hotel