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On this road trip, I’m going to enjoy the sceneryLandschaftscenery along Ireland’s west coast, where white sandy beaches and toweringhoch aufragendtowering cliffs welcome the breakerBrandungswellebreakers of the vastweit, unermesslichvast Atlantic Ocean. I’ll be travelling along one section of the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,600-kilometre-long coastal route that runs the length of Ireland’s west coast. Officially to launchhier: eröffnenlaunched in 2014, the route was designed to encourage visitors to explore Ireland beyond the attractions of the capital city, Dublin.
I drive out of Limerick on Ennis Road, headingin Richtung nachheading north-west, and cross the border from County Limerick into neighbouring County Clare. With some of the finest scenery to be found on the west coast, Clare also has a lot of evidence of early human activity. Bones of a bear, found in a caveHöhlecave here in 2017, show linear cut-marklinienförmige Einkerbunglinear cut-marks that were almost certainly made by humans in the Palaeolithic PeriodAltsteinzeitPalaeolithic Period around 10,500 BC.
To the tip of a peninsula
My first stop is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, a 15th-century castle and a living 19th-century village. A long-established, much-visited tourism centre (the number of coach (UK)hier: Reisebuscoaches in the car park is a telltale signuntrügliches Zeichentelltale sign), this well-run facilityAnlagefacility may be a little too “touristy” for some tastes, but is still worth a visit.
Original examples of local, traditional architecture have been rebuilt in the village, giving an insight into how people lived in centuries gone by – like an open-air museum. The Cashen fisherman’s house, a simple, two-room home of a north Kerry salmonLachssalmon fisherman, is my favourite because of its simplicity. Much of the timber (wood) used in this house would have been to salvagerettensalvaged from the sea, and the floor is of “rammed”, or compressed, clayTon, Lehmclay.
My next destination is the county town of Ennis. It lies on the River Fergus, which runs into the Shannon Estuary. This is the largest town in County Clare, and it’s a strongholdHochburgstronghold of traditional Irish music – as are many other towns and villages in the county.
My route now takes me south-east, through farmland, towards the Loop Head peninsulaHalbinselPeninsula. Here, vistaAusblickvistas open up, and as I drive south from the village of Kilkee, I begin to see the power of the Atlantic Ocean to my right, where huge cliffs stretch as far as the eye can see. thronenPerched at the very tip of the peninsula stands the Loop Head lighthouseLeuchtturmLighthouse.
There’s been a lighthouse here since the year 1670. At first, it was just a coal-burning fire on the roof of the cottage where the lightkeeperLeuchtturmwärter(in)lightkeeper lived, and the first tower lighthouse was built in 1802. One of west Clare’s most impressive sights, and open to the public, this provides an ideal viewing point for a place so dramatic that it was chosen as one of the locations for the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The ocean on one side is wild
Back in the car and bracederfrischtbraced by the stiff ocean wind, I’m heading back north now and the breathtakingatemberaubendbreathtaking vastness of the Atlantic is becoming more familiar. After passing through Kilkee again, I head towards the neathier: hübschneat little village of Doonbeg, where it’s time for coffee and a sconeTeegebäckscone in the aptlypassenderweiseaptly named Wild Atlantic Break cafe.
In addition to its two fine beaches, Doonbeg is well known as the location of a golf club owned by former US President Donald Trump. Many in Ireland have ambivalentzwiegespaltenambivalent feelings about this – but it’s hard to argue with locals who point out the employment opportunities the club has created.
My next destination is Spanish Point, another small resortUrlaubs-, Erholungsortresort with a beautiful sandy beach. After violent storms to disrupt sth.etw. stören, zum Erliegen bringendisrupted the planned invasion of England in September 1588, the Spanish Armada was driven north around Scotland and then south along Ireland’s west coast. Over a thousand men lost their lives when one of the many galleons was to wreckauf Grund laufenwrecked off the coast here at Spanish Point – hencedaherhence the name.
Driving north-east, I soon come to Miltown Malbay. Traditionally a place where local farmers brought their grainGetreidegrain to be to millmahlenmilled, three of the town’s corn mills can still be seen. But today, Miltown Malbay is best known for its singers, dancers and musicians. A week-long festival to celebrate the town’s most famous son, the Irish piperhier: Dudelsackspieler(in)piper, fluteFlöteflute and whistlehier: irische Blechflötewhistle player Willie Clancy, is held here each year in July.
If you arrive here at any time between May and September, as I have, the West Clare Music Makers’ Visitor Centre is an easy way to get a sense of what it’s all about. The eight-minute film on the stories behind the music provides an appetizer for those who like the sound of the Irish uilleann pipes (the national bagpipeDudelsackbagpipe of Ireland).