Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day Off

I try to take a day off in the middle of my trips. I get to relax for a while and do the mundane things, like laundry. I was in Kilkee for the day – a very quiet little town that must overflow with tourists in the summer, but still quiet in early June. There was little to do, but at least I had something else in mind.

I drove out to Loop Head for the day. Two weeks ago, when I played The Cashen course at Ballybunion with two priests, they picked out Loop Head across the water [Photo: the tip of Loop Head in the distance, from the 16th green] and I decided to visit it if I had the chance.

It was worth the trip. It’s about 25km from Kilkee and the roads aren’t too bad. You arrive at a lighthouse, on the edge of beautiful cliffs, stunning scenery and the roar of the Atlantic beneath your feet. How close you venture to the edge is up to you and you can walk around the lighthouse or down towards the headlands away to your right. [Photo: distant headlands]

I chose the former, and found myself approaching an enormous island of rock that seemed only a jump across the void. From some angles it looks like it has just been parked badly; from others, like a sullen teenager. With its myriad of rock layers it is home to thousands of birds and you can sit and watch them for hours as they swoop down towards the most perfect blue water that thunders against the base. The way the ocean retreats, like a child taking a breath to blow out his birthday candles, before hurling forwards again brings out the goosebumps. The sound is terrifying.

But for the ultimate thrill – and I don’t recommend it – go past the rock and you will find a nice, wide, rocky ledge on the mainland. It’s down a couple of feet and it is a straight drop down two or three hundred feet. Get down on your belly and crawl to the edge – remembering to remove hat and glasses first, Now, look down. It will make your head spin, but what a view. And if you wait long enough, you can feel the vibrations of the sea pounding the rocks. Be sure to retreat carefully.

The Cliffs of Moher up the road are bigger and more impressive, but this is isolated and closer to the edge. And if you have a dog, do not let it run loose!

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