University of Wisconsin–Madison

Conquering the Cliffs of Moher

The past few weeks have been filled with the craziness of moving into my apartment, meeting the people in my program and registering for classes. While that is all very exciting, the main highlight was the blustering, crisp day we spent on the Cliffs of Moher. We truly could not have picked a gloomier day to make the trek out to the famous Irish destination, but the weather could not dampen the pure beauty of the cliffs.

When we arrived it was cloudy, drizzling and extremely windy. But as the coach bus wound its way up the hill towards the cliffs, the rain died down a bit and the clouds cleared so that, even though it was still quite cold and the wind was biting, we could clearly see what we came for. And the cliffs are truly breathtaking. The dominant thought racing through my mind was that I was standing inside of a postcard, trapped alongside a distant place that I thought only existed in my imagination but never in my reality.

Stone walls snake along the edge of the cliffs with comical, yet terrifying signs warning about the dangers of being sucked off by the wind down into the turbulent waters. Wind slams in the side of the cliffs and strikes upward before slashing across the top of the grass, toppling tourists in the process. Ocean spray whips into foam bubbles that circle like a tornado of tiny snowbirds, while a lone tower keeps watch over the stormy waters.

As I stumbled my way up to the tower I needed to use every muscle in my body to keep my momentum moving forward against the domineering wind. The gloomy weather made it a chilly trip but also a day less packed with fellow tourists, which gave us freedom to explore as much of the coast as we could. Our group of eight scrambled over stones, slipped in mud and shouted over the wind for a couple hours before finally returning the Visitors Center. My reflection in the glass doors revealed red cheeks raw from the wind and hair standing up and bent in shapes I could not accomplish with a whole can of hairspray, but my face was frozen in a grin.

The day ended with a late lunch of Irish stew in a pub in Doolin and a very quiet ride back into Galway – a calm ending to a dramatic and spectacular day at the Cliffs of Moher.

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