Europe

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Over the past week, I’ve sat at my computer multiple times, hands poised over the keys, ready to write about our trip to Ireland, waiting for the words to come that will express what it felt like to stand amid such beauty and feel an overwhelming sense of peace, and each time they escape me. Words scatter into the dark recesses of my brain and are replaced by images of crumbling castles, animals grazing amid impossibly green pastures, and cliffs that appear to stretch on to infinity, crystal blue waters crashing at their base. I can picture these places in my mind and even remember how I felt while I was there, but I can’t do them justice by writing about them. How do you describe something that leaves you speechless?

We only spent three days in Ireland, but it was long enough for me to feel a strong reluctance to return to London. On our last day, we were cutting it incredibly close and thought we might miss our flight back to London. Instead of getting the tight, anxious feeling in my chest that usually appears when things aren’t going according to plan, I began to hope we’d miss it. I wanted more time, even if it were only an extra day. How extraordinary for a girl who never gets too attached to feel such a deep longing for a place after only three days.

For reasons I can’t altogether explain, arriving in Ireland felt like coming home. We flew into the Shannon airport in County Clare and rented a car to drive to Doolin, a small village on the coast of western Ireland. What should have felt completely foreign – navigating roads in a new country with no GPS and driving on the left-hand side of the road – felt surprisingly normal. For the first time since we left Tennessee, we weren’t traveling somewhere packed to the gills with a bunch of strangers in subways and buses. It was like old times – Lexie in the back reading a book, Cory behind the wheel, and me riding shotgun, attempting to navigate from a map printed off the internet. Windows rolled down, surrounded in every direction by luscious green farmland, the smell of fresh cow poop in the air – we very well could have been in Tennessee were it not for the Irish tunes playing on the radio, remnants of castle towers along the highway, and towns with names like Ballynacragga and Killnaboy.

When we arrived in Doolin, the sun had already set and we only had one thing in mind – food, so we didn’t realize we’d wandered onto the pages of a fairytale until we awoke the next morning.

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

A contrasting landscape made up of vivid blues and greens, dotted with farmhouses and the exquisite Doonagore Castle – who wouldn’t fall in love with that? Standing above the town, looking down at the castle and the waves gently washing over the coast, it’s like storybook perfection. A true place of tranquility.

Mother Nature must have been looking on us favorably because every day we were in Ireland, the skies were a bright blue and not a drop of rain fell from the puffy white clouds floating overhead. A real lucky break seeing as every single second of our days were spent outdoors. This trip was a departure from our typical Europe travels in that we didn’t spend much time in the city. The cliffs, the coast, a National Park – these were the things on our agenda this time around.

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin was our homebase for the three days we were in western Ireland, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a friendly and incredibly charming Irish village to return to every night, but Doolin also has a lot to offer for tourists just passing through. Known as the traditional music capital of Ireland, Irish folk songs can be heard drifting out of the open doors of Doolin’s pubs well into the night. By day, boats leave from the harbor taking visitors to the nearby Aran Islands or on tours beneath the Cliffs of Moher. Doolin Cave claims to be home to the longest stalactite in the northern hemisphere.

But what you really don’t want to miss is Doolin’s coast. The Burren, a unique limestone landscape covering a good portion of County Clare, comes to an abrupt stop here at the Atlantic where its craggy black rocks meet the strength of the ocean. The Cliffs of Moher dominate the background, stretching south down the coast. It’s an impressive view, so wildly different than the farms directly behind it that it’s hard to believe they both coexist in the same space.

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

Our second evening in Ireland was the only evening we made it back to Doolin before the sun went down and we took advantage of it by taking a short walk on Doolin’s cliff path that, were we to continue down it far enough, would have taken us all the way to the main portion of the Cliffs of Moher. We didn’t make it that far, but the portion we did walk took us above the village, past idyllic scenes of horses grazing creek-side (and some even running willy-nilly down the road!) all the way to the beginning of the cliffs where we watched the sun set beneath the ocean. The perfect ending to an already spectacular day.

For someone who used to spend at least half of every day outside, close to a year of city-living has started to take its toll. These three days in Ireland were rejuvenating and fed a part of me that’s been lying dormant for too many months now – the part that craves wide open spaces, nature, and spontaneous adventures. London certainly has its perks, but my heart is always drawn to those places where the sights aren’t man-made and there’s a chance you might not pass another person for miles. For me, that was Ireland. Thank goodness it’s only a short plane ride away.

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Doolin, Ireland: The Most Charming Village In County Clare

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37 Comments

  • Reply
    Alexandra @ Team Starnes
    April 28, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Beautiful Pictures!

  • Reply
    Margo @ The Overseas Escape
    April 28, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    well i feel rejuvenated just by looking at your pictures – beautiful!

  • Reply
    Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    April 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    So beautiful. Every time I read someone’s posts about Ireland I’m ready to hop a plane as our planned trip was thwarted with visa issues. I need to go! Maybe I can talk Adam into a long weekend :)

  • Reply
    Katrin
    April 28, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Oh wow, this looks like a place where I could imagine to live. It is so beautiful. I am rally hoping I will be able to travel to Ireland at some point this year. I have always wanted to but never made it. And I have no explanation why. I think I might feel the same way about it than you do! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Reply
    andrea
    April 28, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    I have been to Ireland 4 or 5 times but we are taking our kids there in May and I can’t wait. Your pictures are gorgeous!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      I hope I get to go 4 or 5 times – I think it’ll take that many trips for me to see everything I want to see! :) Where do you plan to take the kids in May?

      • Reply
        andrea
        April 29, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        We are flying into Dublin but then driving down and doing the Ring of Kerry, Cork, Kilkenny and I think Kilarney. Then over to Newcastle for the rest of our visit, with side trips to York and London :) My in laws live in Newcastle so we always try to add in other side trips when we make our yearly visit over!

  • Reply
    Tanya @Other Side of the Road
    April 28, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Incredible pictures of one of my favorite places! We went for 2 weeks in 2001 for our honeymoon. It was like stepping back in time. I love your picture of the horses in the road…we had to stop so many times and wait for sheep or cows to get out of the road. And we saw people traveling around with a horse and cart too. To me as an American, I feel a real kinship to the Irish (and Scottish) people. Their friendliness is refreshing. Our favorite spot was the Dingle peninsula, which seems to be close to where you stayed.

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      Two whole weeks! I’m trying not to be jealous! :) I would have loved to had more time to spend there, even just in County Clare. I’m already itching to go back.

      I was expecting to get stopped on one of our long drives by a herd of cattle passing through, but it never happened. Got to admit, I was a bit disappointed! ;)

      Some folks we met in Ireland had just been to Dingle – they said it was beautiful. We didn’t make it that way on this trip, but maybe next time!

  • Reply
    Sammy @ Days Like This
    April 28, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    What a wonderful description of Ireland. It really does feel like home. It’s just feels like MAGIC. Such an incredible country

  • Reply
    StacieD
    April 28, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    Love the pictures, Sarah…..so glad you guys had a wonderful time :) Makes me more determined to make it happen for my dad and my family….sounds like it is everything I had imagined it to be.

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      Of all the places we’ve visited so far, Ireland has been my favorite. It’s somewhere I’d love to go back to again and again. I sincerely hope you’re able to go someday – it would be the trip of a lifetime!

  • Reply
    Jen Mc
    April 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Gorgeous photos! My sister felt the sme way about Ireland…loved it!
    I’m glad you enjoyed.

  • Reply
    Graeme Voigt
    April 28, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Absolutely stunning! I can’t wait to get here! I’m in London, so not far away. Just need to make the time to make it happen!
    Lovely photo’s too!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      April 29, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      We flew from London’s Gatwick airport to Shannon in less than an hour and a half. I think next time we may try taking the ferry to Dublin, though. Either way, it’s a fairly quick journey! I hope you get the chance to visit soon!

      • Reply
        Graeme Voigt
        April 29, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        Arr wow! That’s so quick! As an Aussie’, I’m finding it hard to adjust to the fact that it really is SO EASY to skip country!!!
        Enjoy your stay!

  • Reply
    Keith
    April 28, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Great pictures! Co. Clare is beautiful. I was back on the Emerald Isle visiting family last week. I see that you caught the same period of beautiful weather I did!

  • Reply
    Brianne
    April 28, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    After traveling to quite a few cities for my first traveling experiences, I’ve really grown most fond of the wide open landscapes, parks, and “natural playgrounds” of the world the most. I’m bookmarking this town for the day I make it to Ireland.

  • Reply
    Jenn
    April 28, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Beautiful! This is why Ireland is at the tippy top of my must visit list!

  • Reply
    Quyen Nguyen
    April 28, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    These pictures definitely remind me of my trip to Ireland last November. I much preferred the country to the large cities. The country charm is undeniable!

  • Reply
    rorybore
    April 28, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    wow. just wow. yep, words fail. but me Celtic blood is fairly pumpin! :)

  • Reply
    Diana Bockus
    April 29, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    OH my gosh! Gorgeous! I wouldn’t be able to put my camera down!

  • Reply
    Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    April 29, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    Ditto @margo, I feel like I’ve been on an utterly relaxing glide through the Emerald Isles!

  • Reply
    Claire
    April 30, 2014 at 4:48 AM

    Ireland is stunning, though I’ve never been to Clare (ironically enough!) – definitely on the list now. I know just what you mean by that feeling of coming home to a strange place, I felt it the first time I visited Stockholm – and look at me now! ;-)

  • Reply
    Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 1, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    I just love that place above Doolin with such an amazing view!! You just took me back!! It’s so amazing that you had such good weather!! What a treat!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      May 1, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      I couldn’t believe it either! We got so incredibly lucky. I had read that April is the least rainy month of the year in Ireland, so that’s why we planned the trip then, but I never expected for it to be as clear as it was, especially since the whole week before it was kind of messy!

  • Reply
    Emmymom
    May 2, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Oh my gosh that first picture- heck all the pictures, stunning and what a truly enchanting place. So truly beautiful. I can see why you would want to stay

  • Reply
    Abby Rockwood
    May 3, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    Beautiful pictures! I must visit Ireland someday….the landscape it very similar to home in Newfoundland.

  • Reply
    Jo
    May 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    You were so lucky with the weather! Great pictures, glad you guys has a good time!

  • Reply
    Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    May 13, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I love this so much. I too crave for the slow life. Interesting how some places can just make it happen. I consider it a challenge and joy to create that type of living in my everyday even if the city I live in does not mirror that. Coming back from our cruise (which was far from slow paced…one day at port was never enough…reminds me how spot on you were about not taking vacation packages that stop in multiple places). Hoping you will find a little of that in your everyday…but also reminded how thankful travel is to give us that perspective!

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      May 14, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      I think you do a fantastic job keeping your life beautiful and simple. And that’s saying something since you do live in a busy city! I think that sort of lifestyle is much easier to stay consistent with when you’re far away from everything. :)

      I’ve never taken a cruise, and part of the reason is because of how little time you get to spend at each place you stop. I wouldn’t like that much. Now a cruise that never stopped, maybe that I could do!

      • Reply
        Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
        May 14, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        The cruise was definitely a different experience now that we have a better sense of how we like to travel as well as being on a trip with family! There was a lot of stuff that was free to do but they had a ton of things for additional costs. It constantly felt like every chance they got, they were trying to charge us more money. Luckily, two out of the three ports were places I had been before, but there was definitely no slow moving on this trip. I think the last day on the boat we spent half the day in our room watching TV…after finally seeing everything we actually felt like we could relax…plus we were so over the sun and pool! ;)

  • Reply
    Sara Louise
    May 16, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Look at that sky! You got incredibly lucky with the weather!
    This post made me smile, it’s so nice to hear that you enjoyed yourself so much :)

  • Reply
    Marina
    February 27, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    Lucky you you had an awesome sunny day in Doolin! I lived in Ireland for an year and I doesn’t usually happends. It rains 9 out of 10 days! :) Btw, beautiful walk from Dooling to Hag Head though The Cliffs of Moher… 20km full of beauty & green scenaries

  • Reply
    TC
    August 9, 2017 at 12:01 AM

    Hi there, Lovely post! I will be in Doolin for a few days (after a wedding). Where do you recommend I stay?
    Thank you, Tusy

  • Reply
    Doolin Tourism
    August 20, 2018 at 7:57 AM

    Doolin is a great spot to visit as it has so many things to see and do in the area. Check out the Doolin Tourism website for things to do, places to stay, where to eat and more.

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