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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mizen Head of County Cork, Ireland

Aside from a completely unexpected close-up encounter with a dolphin, our trip to Ireland was mostly a tour of the rocky cliffs on the southwest coast.  We had planned to do this drive without knowing that Ireland has started a major branding campaign for the area, known as the Wild Atlantic Way.  When we stopped to get lunch one day, one of the locals asked us if we were driving the Wild Atlantic Way.

Driving on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car, and shifting gears with my left hand was easier than you might think.  But, I did get in the wrong side of the car at least twice, only to realize I had no steering wheel.  Second, trying to shift the gears with the left hand from the left side, while the orientation of the gears was as normal (1st was furthest and 5th closest) did not mesh well with my brain.  I ground the gears going from 2nd to 3rd a hundred times, often to the amusement of nearby pedestrians.

From the airport, we headed straight to an old abandoned cathedral known as Rock of Cashel. It was built in the 1200's, though some buildings on the site had been built even earlier.   Old stone Irish crosses covered in lichen stand in the graveyard on the site.


Rock of Cashel. It was built in the 1200's, though some buildings on the site had been built even earlier.   Old stone Irish crosses covered in lichen stand in the graveyard on the site.

After visiting Rock of Cashel, we drove to the far southwest tip of Ireland, known as Mizen Head.  We were fortunate this was one of the few sunny days we had.  There'd been so little good weather this year that the sunny day resulted in a traffic jam.  Thousands of people had rushed to the beach and filled the parking lot.  In desperation, later arrivals started parking their cars on the edge of the little country road, effectively reducing it to only one lane.  The result was a huge head-on backup. We got to witness twenty cars all backing up at once for a quarter of a mile.

A little way past the beach, we were continuing on the tiny coastal road.  We couldn't resist getting out and exploring the grassy clifftops and soaking up some sunshine.  Everywhere we went, we saw these dense tufts of small purple and yellow flowers in the right foreground.  I think they're heather.   "Heathcliff "on the heather-covered heath above the cliffs."  Hmm, I wonder where Emily Brontë got her ideas for character names. You can see the heath in appropriately dreary weather in the next article.


The great thing about this area is that we were the only people there.  It's just a random spot on the coast.  


Once we made it to Mizen Head, we went for a long walk on the paths originally built for workers at the signal house and lighthouse.  Mizen Head is set up to receive visitors, but it's not crowded.  See lower left corner of map below.



A flock of crying seagulls swirled in the air in front of the mouth of this cave.  The seagulls provide a clue to the scale of the scene.

Ireland Irish Mizen Head Europe cliffs beautiful spectacular majestic impressive tall stone stony rock rocky travel tourism vacation adventure nature sea ocean waves blue water wilderness dangerous treacherous forbidding

Looking down off a short bridge way at the top of the cliffs.

Ireland Irish Mizen Head Europe cliffs beautiful spectacular majestic impressive tall stone stony rock rocky travel tourism vacation adventure nature sea ocean waves blue water wilderness dangerous treacherous forbidding

The incredible view that everyone comes for.

Ireland Irish Mizen Head Europe cliffs beautiful spectacular majestic impressive tall stone stony rock rocky travel tourism vacation adventure nature sea ocean waves blue water wilderness dangerous treacherous forbidding


Ireland Irish Mizen Head Europe cliffs beautiful spectacular majestic impressive tall stone stony rock rocky travel tourism vacation adventure nature sea ocean waves blue water wilderness dangerous treacherous forbidding

This is part 2 of a five-part series on our vacation in Ireland in summer 2015.

Chapter 1: an unexpected close-up visit with a dolphin.

Chapter 3: describes our hike around Lamb's Head, at the tip of the Beara Peninsula, in County Cork.

Chapter 4:  Connemara National Park, Cliffs of Moher, and Achill Island.

Chapter 5: I saved the best for last, the seaside cliffs and islands along Slea Head Drive.

[Note: If the photos are too big for your screen, you can click on one of them for a slide show view.]







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