The Unexpected

In my imagination, the Cliffs of Moher were a wild, beautiful and desolate place, not somewhere whose carpark, a glinting field of metal visible from afar, is the source of an ant-trail of visitors to the visitor centre, up to the cliffs, along the edge and back. Well there you go. There are many things I don't know. We added our hired glint to the ugly field and joined the ants.

At various points along the cliff-edge, the combination of wind and the shape of the inlet below meant that we were spattered with seawater. From 200 metres below!

The local stone is limestone, laden with fossils: shellfish, squiggly lines that look like wormtrails, and coral which, because the stones for the broad steps up to the cliff-edge have been cleverly cut, you can see from both the side and above (extra). We were peering at them so intently that someone asked us whether we were fellow EarthCachers. Um, no? So we learnt that EarthCaching is a meld of a geology lesson with a treasure hunt. While this was being explained someone overheard and asked our informant whether he would 'activate' a small piece of metal for her sister. He readily agreed. It all sounds as endearingly obsessive and friendly a community as blip.

Most of the hoards looking in vain for puffins and seals in the sea crashing round the headlands were encased like us in windproof jackets but I was very taken by a Chinese woman swathed in Celtic robes and her partner in steampunk garb. Quite the couple (extra).

Like very many others, we left the well-paved, walled visiting area, passed the notices warning us to be careful and took to the uneven track along the cliff top. But the gusting wind very soon had us both picturing ourselves falling and clutching at the tufts of wet shiny grass edging the cliff. We turned back.

Our meander home took us to Lisdoonvarna whose name I vaguely remembered as Ireland's great matchmaking centre. Not only that, it turns out that September is the great matchmaking month. We didn't hang around for the evening dances but saw a few likely candidates in the streets. This modern role for Lisdoonvarna has grown out of its 200-year history as a spa town with, at its peak 100 years ago, over 20,000 seekers a year of its curative waters rich in sulphur and iron. No wonder it became known as a place to meet people. We walked down to the stream and the spa building. Closed, but there in a first floor window was a rotating plastic-encased mannequin. 

Tell me someone - what is it with rotating statues here?

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