Doolin; The Cliffs of Insanity (also known as the Cliffs of Moher); Armin courts death despite his grandmother's strict instructions

The only real reason to stay in Doolin in County Clare - aside from peace and quiet and sheep, I suppose - is to see the Cliffs of Moher, beautifully sculpted limestone cliffs two hundred meters high, pounded mercilessly by the Atlantic and home to an uncountable host of seabirds. I’d only seen them before from a coach tour, and Sheryl had never seen them, so she, I and Armin decided to do the five-kilometer hike to (and on) the cliffs. Beginning flat, the trail rapidly rose and began to skirt the very edge of the cliff face. I’ve no head for heights unless I’ve got a camera in front of my face, and that’s not very practical or intelligent when walking above a sheer 200-meter drop, so I had to live with it. Most of the walk was fine - except for the very strong wind gusting and pushing us toward the edge - but there were a few hairy moments, especially when one part of the trail had crumbled away to a ten-centimeter wide ledge with nothing below. Amusingly, towards the end of the hike, when we’d passed the dangerous part, we saw a sign in the distance, from the back. When we finally reached it and went round the front to read it, it turned out to be a warning notice from Clare County Council reading “Extreme Danger: Cliffs Falls Continuing”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or punch something.

During the walk, Armin amused himself by tripping along the very edge of the cliff, peering off with his toes over the edge, and other such feats of teenage bravado, in direct defiance of his grandmother’s strict instructions to stay away from cliffs because “they don’t have fences there”. She was perfectly correct, I have to admit - and I was at a loss as to what I’d tell her when we shipped his broken body home to Germany. I suspect him of not having had enough attention growing up. I’ve never felt more parental than that afternoon - I could feel each grey hair sprout every time he pulled some stunt. Just one more confirmation that I’m not father material. I’m happy for my brother to have that particular crushing responsibility, thanks.

On the way, we met Cameron - the man does tend to pop up unexpectedly - and he and Armin continued along the coast while Sheryl and I grabbed the bus back to town. I went to sleep, feeling like I was coming down with a cold, and was out for hours. Woke up and blearily accompanied the others to the pub where we chatted with the girlfriend of one of the house band - she was a cool lady from Seychelles with a brilliant smile and an infectious laugh.

Flourish

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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
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