Adventure in Ballybunion

Ballybunion Beach

     We were listening to live piano music and having a late night snack and a drink at our hotel in Ballybunion, Ireland. We were unable to get a spot in the dining room, but we were hungry and opted to sit in the bar area for faster service. 

Ballybunion Sea Caves and Jellyfish

     Ballybunion is on the west coast of Ireland, north of the Ring of Kerry. We had spend the evening exploring the impressive sea caves at Ballybunion Beach and avoiding the hundreds of purple jellyfish along the sand.

The Teach de Broc Woman Argues Her Case

     The older woman behind the bar was pouring a Guinness Stout and arguing in a thick accent with one of the patrons who was showing pictures of their days visit to the Cliffs of Moher.

     “Our cliffs right here in town are every bit as good as those tourist traps.” She slammed the mug on the bar. “They got all the tour buses and crowds, who needs it?”

My Stout

     My friend Angie and I perked up at the promise of a close by adventure we didn’t know existed and continued to eavesdrop.

     “Did you say there are sea cliffs nearby?” Angie called out to the woman.

     “Yes, don’t waste your time with those Moher Cliffs with their big crowds and high entrance fee. We’ve got the best cliffs in all of Ireland I tell ya. They’re 60 meters high and ya can look down t’ see the sea stacks and rock arches. We even got seals and a fox den down there.”

     Our interest was peaked. “Well where are they? What are they called…so we can GPS it?” I inquired, approaching the bar.

     Angie was close behind and we found a seat closer, to pump her for the details. Bromore Sea Cliffs were about a 10 minute drive from the hotel. There was a walking path along the top of the cliff and dolphins, otters and seals are usually present in the Atlantic waters below.

To The Cliffs – Bromore Sea Cliffs

     After our Irish breakfast of various breads and eggs at Teach de Broc Hotel, I grabbed a coffee to go and we followed the directions we had GPS’d the night before to the Bromore Cliffs.

     It was around 10:30 a.m. and the fog had not budged. We inched ahead, leaning forward and squinting for something resembling cliffs that the GPS assured us was there but the only thing visible was a thick haze.

     We passed a gate and into an empty gravel parking area. Not sure if we were in the right spot, we got out and walked through the chilly air…our breath seeming to contribute to the fog.

An Apparition In the Fog at Bromore

     There was an information board at the end of the lot which indicated that this was indeed Bromore Cliffs. Angie ran back to the car to grab euros to put in the pay box. We both stood studying the map to get an idea of where we needed to go to see the cliffs but not fall off. The path looked to wind around the area at the edge of the cliffs.

     The sound of seabirds echoed through the air. The smell of clover swirled on the breeze and a fine mist began to fall. 

     “I think if we head down this trail here, the cliffs should be here.” Angie began, pointing at several spots on the information board map.

     “Argh…you’ll be right in assumin’ that’s the way t’ the cliffs.” A craggy voice offered from behind us as Angie and I jumped out of our skin and spun around. 

A Bit of Advice and a Warning at the Bromore Cliffs…

     A grey haired man with a cane emerged through the fog, limping through the gravel lot towards us. “I oversee these Cliffs, names Mike.” He informed us. “Take this path…up past the pastures and the cliffs’ll be on your right…careful not to get to close t’ the edge.” He pointed with a bent finger into the fog. “Ya might wanna watch out for Ol’ Bart…he’s a beggar.”

     Angie and I glanced at each-other with concern and then eyeballed the car…in case we needed to make a quick get-away.  The man’s whole face crinkled around his blue eyes like an intricately lined frame as he laughed.

     “Ol’ Bart’s harmless.” He chuckled, adjusting his blue cap and gazing down the path. “He’s a snack stealing horse.”

     We smiled at the thought of a snack stealing horse. The man asked us if we had heard of Carrigafoyle Castle nearby, and despite my impressively detailed planning…we had not. 

     “If ya follow this path here, he showed us on the map, it’s a 20 minute walk to the cliffs. The length of the path will take ya an hour.” He gave us brief directions and showed us a couple of photos of the sea cliffs. He then turned limped back into the low white cloud of fog towards the road disappearing. We turned our attention towards the invisible path. 

Hiking In the Bromore Fog

The Bromore Path- There’s Something Out There

     Tall grass lined both sides of the gravel path. On the right, the ground was a few feet higher than the path itself. Wooden fence posts were visible marking the path ahead. Anything more than 10 feet in front of us was obscured by thick haze. It felt like I should be able to windshield-wiper my eyeballs to clear the condensation from them but despite rapid blinking…I couldn’t make out the details of what was ahead of us. 

     The gravel turned to a soft springy carpet of turf. I flip-flopped though the tall wet grass, some of the weeds pricking at my ankles.

     “Check out how the raised edges of the path look against the fog. So cool.” I announced, raising my camera to get a shot.

     We walked somewhat blindly ahead…able to see the grass along the edges and under our feet…but not much ahead or to the sides.

     “It should be close,” I said. “I think we’ve been walking about 20 minutes. My ankles are itchy, I think I may have brushed against something.” I peered down at them, looking for the source of irritation.

The Mystery Peeker

Apparition on the Bromore Sea Cliffs Path

     “Wait…what is that? Up there?” Angie pointed ahead.

     “I squinted ahead…”What is what?” I asked. “I can’t see anything.”

     “Right there.” Angie got close to me so when she pointed, the angle was accurate.

      A form rose up over the edge of the path. 

     “What was that?” We questioned. “A large bird? A fallen tree? A nearby lighthouse? The loch ness monster!?”

    As we crunched and flip-flop, flip-flopped up the path we realized the shape in the distance was the head of none other than Bart…the Snack Stealing Horse, lurking and peeking at us from a distance. 

     We laughed and moved faster to get a look at Bart…who decided that a distant peek of us was enough and was retreating to the edges of the fog blanket, blending into the grey background.

The Bromore Sea Cliffs are Out There

     We crunched through the quiet mist. No other people were on the path. I pulled my hood into a tight circle around my face, feeling my freshly straightened hair performing it’s own home perm as we hiked. 

     “I think that’s the cliff!” I exclaimed and dashed toward the sound of echoing sea birds.

     Angie was on my heels and we reached a raised edge of grass and a sharp drop off. We paced back and forth, squinting at the various viewpoints. We caught flashes of rock and flapping bird wings making brief appearances in the haze. The sound of waves crashed below us. 

     The cliffs and the sea never came into view beyond the curtain of condensation. We explored for a few minutes, attempting to locate any areas of visibility. We had a lot on our agenda for the day and despite our desire to see the cliffs, the fog was just too thick. We opted not to walk the entire path and instead turned around. We began back up the path towards the car.

Ol’ Bart- The Snack Stealing Horse

Ol’ Bart Heading our Way

     There was a rustling noise to our left and a loud snort. In the distance, we could see the outline of Ol’ Bart… the Snack Stealing Horse…barreling towards us…ready to pillage our loot. We stepped back in alarm but Ol’ Bart came to a halt about 10 feet from us. 

     “Hey Bart…” Angie clicked as she held her hand out towards the towering mare.

     He shook out his wild grey mane and approached her hand.

     “Don’t let him shake you down for your sunflower seeds.” I warned, backing up a step.

    Bart was huge and ash colored with a pink nose. He took tentative steps towards us with his head down, accepting a scratch behind the ear. He made chuffing noises as we patted his head. Ol’ Bart turned and wandered off. He was tiring of head scratching, and probably realizing we had no snack-loot to pillage.

Bromore Sea Cliffs Bart looking Majestic

On the Road Again…Leaving Ballybunion

     We made it back to the car and set our mapping to Carrigafoyle Castle. I rubbed Benadryl cream on my prickly ankles dotted with red. A short way up the road, the fog finally started to lift. We seemed to be driving through a road built on a swamp that would rise and retreat. A stone castle rose in the distance, looking slightly creepy in the remnants of fog. 

    

Narrow Road in Ireland

Click here to read about the Carrigafoyle Castle adventure…

Carrigafoyle Castle

Click here to read my 600 step climb to the Skellig Michael monastery

Click here to read about my frozen toed hike to Peyto Glacier

Click here to read about a Canadian hidden hot spring adventure

 

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