On the way to my birthday accommodation we stopped at Askeaton Friary. This was a true gem of a find. It just took our eye from the road, so we pulled off to explore the stunning stone ruins of the Friary.
Wandering through the nearly 700 year old Friary it was easy for us to imagine how the monks spent their days walking through these beautiful corridors, praying and meditating. There is still a stone carving of St. Francis in a cloister.
It is hard to describe the chilling atmosphere of exploring and learning about the Friary’s history with no one else around. A bit like an Indiana Jones moment.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at Fermoyle Farm House for my special birthday weekend. Our accommodation was situated in the Burren Nature Reserve. The landscape here is craggy to say the least.
Our cottage was a 300 year old stone farm house complete with 3 bedrooms, but we had no one to share these rooms with, sad as it was a big birthday for me. The stone farmhouse was full of charming features and a beautiful fire place to keep us warm as temperatures at night had dropped below zero. We had experienced a 4 degree day and sleet on our travel day getting to this remote but beautiful farm house. It was surrounded by lots of stone hills for as far as the eye could see and that was it for landscape. Just so, so Irish!!!
That night Rob was kept busy stoking not stroking the fire. This is a new found hobby that keeps him busy for hours on end!! Rob knows how to make a room warm and toasty and that is why we had a little visitor eager to come in from the cold afternoon air. We named him the Dash imposter as he was similar in colour and marking to our fellow at home, who we are missing. He even pisses and moans as much as our Dash cat….
My big 50th birthday morning was spent gloriously chatting to all my family in Australia and responding to texts from friends. An Aussie girl far from home couldn’t ask for anything more. I felt so lucky to have such a loving family – thanks to you all and missing you. Even though I am far away you are always in my thoughts each day.
Even the Irish sun shone down on us on my special day, so we took full advantage of the beautiful day to go and explore the cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were only a half hour drive from our Airbnb. In fact we discovered the ocean was only over the next hill from where we were staying. What a stunning view!!!
It cost us 8 euros each for parking and enterance to the visitors centre at the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are Ireland’s most visited natural attractions.
We found the cliffs really spectacular. We enjoyed the great walking and viewing areas which made it all very accessible.
Even though we had beautiful blue skies and sunshine with no wind – temperatures were still low around 7 degrees so we had to rug up. If we were home during October we would be wiping the sweat from our brows if we were walking at midday.
We learned that these cliffs are home to many seabirds. It would be amazing to see these cliffs covered in Puffins during the warmer months.
We weren’t the only ones celebrating in Ireland over the weekend. It was a long weekend bank holiday and also Halloween, so we decided to celebrate my big 50th birthday amongst an Irish crowd. If we couldn’t be with family we decided to see what the biggest Halloween street parade in Galway was all about.
This meant after leaving the Cliffs of Moher we did the hour drive to Galway. Now don’t you just love the name Galway just so, so Irish and even more so when Ed Sheeran sings it.
In Galway we knew we needed a quick getaway park. We knew it was an hour drive back to our accommodation on narrow unlit windy road. We had also planned to cook a Indian birthday feast together. So… after Rob strategically found our planned parking due to over 50 thousand people coming to enjoy the Halloween festival we spotted some of the floats getting ready inside the Galway University. We stopped for a little peek of what the night would hold.
After having a sneaky look we were reassured that the hour drive was we worth it. We also enjoyed walking around the stunning Galway University grounds. The vines growing up the beautiful stone buildings were just amazing!! Well worth a look.
We were also impressed with the Galway Cathedral, which we learnt had once been a jail. The Cathedral had 3 stand out rose stained glass windows which looked glorious with the afternoon sun shining through the colourful panes.
We wandered across the Salmon bridge into town.
As we walked through the Main Street of Galway called Shopping Street we could not only see Halloween decorations but also the first signs of Christmas shop front window dressings. There were so many charming character filled shop fronts which dated back to the 1600’s. Not something you would see at home in Oz.
We decided on Italian limoncello and chocolate ice cream would be a great substance for a birthday cake and sharing this we were not disappointed. It just reminded us of our limoncello experiences back in Italy earlier this year!!! Gino’s authentic Italian ice- cream is the real deal here in Galway.
As the skyline lost its warmth the crowds thickened. You could sense the anticipation of the festival. We walked back along Galways pretty canals to stake out our spot for our once in a life time Macnas Halloween Parade. We waited on the bridge for an hour elbows out to keep our front row views. It was a real family event full of families with their young children some dressed for the event in cool fun Halloween costumes. Finally the roads were closed off and then we stopped in amazement at the spectacular on show before us.
As claimed a Macnas performance ignites, excites and invites the unpredictable!!!
All I can say is thank you Ireland for making my birthday night a memorable one!!
Once back at the cottage Rob both a little tired … well I am now old, enjoyed a nice home cooked Indian meal together in front of the fire.
The next day we had a rest day and watched the Block Auction!!! Wow what a season, and what amazingly great contestants!!! Best season ever!!! They all came away with some wonderful new friendships, memorable experiences and great winnings. As Jess from good old Queensland would say, Why wouldn’t yah go on, ‘The Block!!! Got to love Aussie reality TV!!!
On our drive out of the Burren Nature Reserve we stopped to admire where the spectacular craggy landscapes meets the Irish cool wind swept sea.
Further on our travels we stopped to explore the gloomy Dunguaire Castle and the cute thatched roof cottages.