Travel Writing: On the Edge of Everything – Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

There have been a few times when I felt like I was walking on another planet, and Ireland was one of those times. Maybe it was because I was on a tour bus, whizzing through glens and around mountains; a toy bus packed with students with hungry eyes and eager feet.

Our tour guide can be described no better than as a “jolly Irishman”. His portly figure tottered up and down the single aisle of the bus, pausing occasionally to adjust the overhead compartments or tease a pair of students from Boston with especially vocal opinions. He had been driving the tour route for perhaps longer than we had been alive, but that hadn’t taken any of the energy out of him. Quick to pack puns into every comment about the countryside, his Irish wit was in full force even at the age that his thinning grey hair suggested.

One quintessential Irish village led to another scenic photo stop until we reached our final destination- the Cliffs of Moher. Not only was it the edge of Ireland, but “the edge” was so abrupt, so take-your-breath-away shocking, that it felt like the edge of the world. The Cliffs of Moher attract thousands of tourists each year. Paths run along the edge for over a mile; some areas with railings, and other areas open to the most daring a traveler. Apart from a warning sign or two, you’re left to use your own judgment on just how close to the edge you choose to venture.

The clouds remained persistent even at the cliffs. A low mist hung over the edge, dropping lower on the tourists as they explored the narrow dirt paths. As if “walking along cliffs” isn’t dangerous enough, just add misty rain! Soon we weren’t just walking on the dirt paths inches from a 700-foot drop, we were shuffling through the mud, trying not to slip and plunge into the ocean below.

I traversed the edge with my travel companion, Katelynn, occasionally passing members from our tour bus along the way. We came across the Bostonians, and one boy in a baseball cap was having an especially risky time. We heard over-the-top laughter coming from behind, followed by Baseball Cap. He was clambering down a slope to our left, seeking a ledge with an impressive photo potential. This ledge was entirely covered in a slick layer of mud.

Baseball Cap apparently didn’t play baseball (or any sports that required coordination) because his steps down the hill quickly turned to forward momentum. He slipped in the slick grass toward the platform of mud on the edge of the Earth. His friends from above could only watch as he lost control. Just as Katelynn and I began to gasp, he gained enough grip on the ground to stop the fall.

Sufficiently shaken up, we decided to forgo taking more pictures for a while. Katelynn mumbled that no picture was ever worth your life. The Digital Age, you strike with a heavy hand.

[Michelle Rosinski – @its_michelle29]

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