Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Cliffs of Moher

My bucket list is one item shorter than it was a year ago. 

I finally stood on the edge of Ireland. I visited the Cliffs of Moher and managed not to fall off. 

You've seen the pictures. Any calendar or book of Ireland worth it's salt will have at least one panoramic view of the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are beyond description but I'm going to try my best to take you with me. Just don't get too close to the edge. 

The cliffs are located on the west coast of Ireland in Co. Clare. At their highest point, the cliffs stretch over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. That's 70 floors. Think: A few floors shy of the John Hancock Building in Chicago. They get their name from an old fort called Moher, that was once part of the cliffs in the mid 18th century. 

One of the first things you notice when visiting the cliffs is the lack of barriers on the edge. It's almost creepy to stand on the edge, knowing that with one good gust of wind, a person could easily become fish food. And through the years, this has happened. Or so I'm told. There are many signs warning visitors to stay back from the edge...

...but go I am about 8 inches from the edge I was warned about.  I couldn't resist.

In the middle of the cliffs there is a stone tower called "O'Brien's Tower" that was built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O'Brien. If you climb the tower you can actually look out into the Pacific and see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

Have you ever heard of a Puffin? Neither had I, until I visited the cliffs. The Atlantic Puffins are birds that resemble adorable stuffed animals. They live in large colonies along the cliffs. 

For you movie buffs, the cliffs have been featured in several movies through the years, but they are most reconizable in The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Leap Year.

If you are looking for one more thing to add to your bucket list, I highly recommend you add a visit to the cliffs. I can honestly say that standing on the edge of Ireland was one of the most memorable moments of my life. 

The Story of the Claddagh

The claddagh is a very familiar symbol found on all kinds of Celtic souveniers, especially jewelry. There is symbolism to the claddagh,  and a sweet, romantic story behind it. 

It all started about 300 years ago in the small fishing village of Claddagh, just outside the town of Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. According to legend, a fishing boat from the village was captured by pirates and the crew was taken and sold into slavery. One young lad, who was scheduled to be married that very week, was sold to a Turkish Gold Smith. During his years in captivity, he never stopped loving his girl back in the village. He crafted a ring of gold for her. After many years, he earned his freedom and returned home to the village of Claddagh, where he found his young love waiting for him. She had never given up hope that they he would return to her. He gave her the ring, and they were married, never to be separated ever again.


The symbols on a claddagh are the heart in the center (symbolizing love), two hands (friendship) and a crown (loyalty). 

If you have a claddagh ring, take care of how you wear it. In Ireland, there is a particular way to wear this ring and they take this very seriously. How you wear the ring indicates your relationship status.

If worn on the right hand with the heart pointing toward the fingertips, this indicates the wearer is single and looking for love. 

Worn on the right hand with the heart pointing toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship, or, their heart is captured.

Worn on the left hand, with the heart pointing toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged to be married. And worn on the left hand with the heart pointing toward the wrist, the wearer is married. Forever bound in love, friendship and loyalty. 

You are Blessed indeed if you enjoy a relationship with all three; love, friendship and loyalty. 

I leave you with a few photos I took in the village of Claddagh this past summer. 

The fishing village of Claddagh