I R E L A N D + R U R A L / by Shawna Miller

This past May an opportunity came knocking at our door - what did it say? Well, funny you should ask, it beckoned us to visit a land that I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember. The land - well the title of this post probably clued you in - the land was Ireland. Today I am going to focus on the rural part of Ireland that was traversed by this very inexperienced world traveler. 

The rural tour of Ireland started by driving through the town of Limerick where we could see King John's Castle from across the river Shannon. The day started off sunny - almost disappointingly so. "Where is the rain? Where is the fog? Where are the rabid leprechauns dancing in the mist below a perfect rainbow?" These are all questions that I demanded, but was delightfully answered when a storm rolled in while driving. That is when we saw the real Ireland. The Ireland I have been wanting - no - needing to experience since a small child. It. Was. Incredible. Not only did we get rain, we got mist, low lying fog, and every now and then a clearing through the fog that allowed us to breach our eyes beyond and see what Ireland really is: a land of mystical mystery and beauty. Yeah, yeah. I know how that sounds - but trust me - we were in literal awe. Like gaping mouths with overly stimulated brains that were incapable of taking in all that we saw kind of awe.

The Cliffs of Moher were my favorite, I must admit. When we first arrived we were taken back by the sheer amount of tourists that had flocked to see the great beauties. Then, Ireland came to our rescue. In rolled light rain, mist, and fog. This caused the majority of the hoard to flock to their tour buses and almost exceed the human body capacity inside the tourist center. Needless to say, we only visited the tourist center at first arrival - nature had called upon my bladder and I could not refuse. When we stepped outside the back end of the tourist center, we were greeted with a most fantastical view of the rock formations. We made our way to O'Brien's Tower (which marks the highest point of the cliffs), payed our 5 euro to march our way to the top, and then marveled at the immense landscape and water-scape that lie ahead of us. We scoped out our path, headed down the incredibly rickety stairs, out of the tower, and made our way across the rock path. The natural slate fencing led us to the other side of the cliffs. The path led us past a man who was meditating heavily beyond the fence, past a young woman who methodically made her way over the fence to sit in awe at the beauty that was displayed in front of her, and to a view that included the ever-churning sea below the incredible rock formations. It was a view that will not vanish from my mind quickly. 

From the cliffs, we traveled to Galway Bay, and made a quick stop at Dunguaire Castle - which unfortunately we were unable to see because the weather had turned from lovely to intense. In-between the Cliffs of Moher and Galway we were able to stop at what the locals call the "baby cliffs", which is located in the region of the Burren. The weather was rough, but boy-howdy was it more than worth the stop. There are some INCREDIBLE rock formations and heavy ocean tides at the baby cliffs. We then had a quick lunch and drink at a little pub called McGanns. McGanns Pub also specialized in the art of the bed and breakfast. We were unable to stay for the evening as we needed to get to Galway before the storm took away the rest of our time with rural Ireland. 

Galway Bay was our last stop. It is a rustic little port town that was filled with a variety of hotels and little shops. There I had a most beautiful experience: walking past an older gentleman who greeted me with "Hello, friend". It was simple. It was lovely. The visit at Galway was freezing with the rain bearing down on top of us. Would I have changed it? Hell. No. The rain and cold weather allowed those streets to be ours. We walked around without care, taking view of all the colorfully decorated shops, taking notice of how the rain inter-played with the parts of Galway that were falling apart (there is something quite beautiful about rain on rust), enjoyed a beautiful coffee paired with a tart dessert, and made contact with the street art that was displayed in the streets and parks of the town. 

Rural Ireland turned out to be a most incredible tour of floral and fauna, of free breathing and boom towns, and simple moments that gave me a different perspective on the term "lovely". Below you will find two galleries that show my rural Ireland experience. The first covers the floral + fauna of rural Ireland. In it you will see my favorite images of the floral + fauna type. The other highlights the structures inhabited or once inhabited by humans. This one will dive you into the O'Brien's Tower, Galway Bay, and a few other slate/stone/brick/metal moments of our rural Ireland trip.

I hope you enjoy the images - as it was an experience unlike any other. Give them a few moments to load properly as these images are epic in nature. 



Rural Ireland 


Rural Ireland