I didn’t post anything nature-related on Wednesday in honor of Earth Day, but I still wanted to write something about good ol’ Mama Earth. Because every day should be Earth Day. (Wow, that sounded ridiculously corny. But really… Let’s keep the planet alive!) So here is my favorite place in the world.
In 2013, I got on a plane by myself for the first time and flew to a country I had only just decided I wanted to explore. When I arrived early in the morning the next day, I was jet-lagged and alone. I was slow to adjust to life in a new country, but eventually I caught on. The first trip I took out of cosy Limerick a couple of weeks later was a bus tour of the Burren in County Clare. After a number of stops, it was mid-afternoon and we had made it to our most anticipated stop: the Cliffs of Moher.
We walked around and took plenty of pictures, as we were pressed for time and wanted to squeeze in as much as possible. Eventually we made it out onto the big flat ledge near the center of the Cliffs, known as Leacmayornagneeve rock. I have never seen a more spectacular view.
The sky, the ocean, and the cliffs melted together right in front of me. Birds flew in every direction. The sun shone bright through the clouds. I was so in awe. There were other people milling about on the ledge and the surrounding cliffs, but I felt completely isolated, in the best way possible. Even as I inched toward the edge and peered over, the drop of hundreds of feet wasn’t unsettling. Far below, large waves crashed soundlessly onto the dark rocky shore. I watched quietly for a few moments, soaking it all in. The air was crisp and salty, but gentle.
When we left that afternoon, I felt a wistfulness wash over me. I knew I would visit the Cliffs of Moher again, but I was worried it wouldn’t come soon enough.
Luckily, only two short weeks later, I found myself back in County Clare with my family during the week they came to visit. I spent more time on Leacmayornagneeve rock and dangled my feet over the edge, despite my sister’s protests that I would fall. We hiked much further toward the southern point than I had on my first trip, simply because we had no time constraints (besides the setting sun). It was much windier as well, but I was still amazed at the landscape and the horizon.
The last big trip I took with the other students in my study abroad program was a weekend trip to Inis Oírr, the smallest of the three Aran Islands. We explored an old shipwreck, walked by the lake and the ocean shores, befriended local dogs, ate delicious pub food, and were tucked away in a B&B for a night on the quiet island. It remains one of my favorite trips to this day. On our way back to Limerick the following day, we took a short trip to the Cliffs. Most of our group had already visited earlier in the semester, but we were all more than willing to go back.
Nicole, Rhiannon, and I–all seasoned visitors of the Cliffs–decided we wanted to spend the short amount of time we had there out on Leacmayornagneeve rock. The view from any point at the Cliffs of Moher is spectacular, but we were all particularly enamored by the ledge. The third time around, I knew it would be my last visit there for quite some time, so I was even brave (or crazy) enough to scoot right up to the edge and put my legs over. I took in a series of deep breaths, filling my lungs with salty sea air, and scanned the area all around me.
There was the same sky, ocean, and cliffs that April day as there had been those days in February. The air was different, cooler and windier, but it felt like home.