We woke up on the morning of the 4th day in Ireland in time to catch a ferry to the Aran islands. The only catch is, that day, unlike our first 3 days, the weather was frigid and incredibly windy. Insanely windy, in fact. We talked about postponing until the next day, but our time was growing short and chances were the following day would be just as windy/rainy – so we decided to go anyway. Best decision ever! We were warned before purchasing our tickets that the boat ride would be rough and that we would only travel to one of the three islands due to the weather. The crew was steadily issuing refunds for tickets purchased in advance, but, being a boat captain’s daughter, I felt up to the challenge and we excitedly secured our tickets.
The boat ride was indeed bumpy, but we had a blast! I just love boats and the sea. Being on the water instantly invigorates me in a way that is hard to describe. It brings a rush to my heart and floods me with a true peace. It’s a beautiful feeling. The cold, salty spray hit us in the face while we cruised, and Andy and I just laughed and held each other. It was perfection!
The island, itself, felt like home. I called it the Sabine Pass of Ireland because that’s the feeling it gave me – the feeling of a place I’ve known since I was a child. The wind beat us our entire walk around the island as we navigated through walkways lined with stone walls. We took a wrong turn more than once, but that added to the adventure. During our rushed tour of the island, we saw a 10th century graveyard, a small shipwreck, a castle, and – the crowning glory – a lighthouse. The lighthouse was at the very end of a long pathway on the opposite side of the island and, as we got closer, the wind got stronger. By the time we got near the lighthouse, the wind was pushing us down and nearly over. The sensation left me feeling alive and home … I felt, as I stood there with my arms open to the wind and it beating against my chest, it was the island’s way of hugging me. I felt welcomed and loved… by the island, by the lighthouse. It pushed through the wind and into my soul. I could instantly see myself living on that island, visiting that lighthouse, and talking to that wind… it was a spiritual experience. One I won’t soon forget.
We rushed – nearly ran – across the island back to where our boat was docked, aware that the time for departure was drawing near. We made it in time to grab a much-needed hot chocolate to sip while we waited to be called aboard. We even got to see dolphins leaping in the water to play with the waves while we waited!
The boat ride back was incredibly rocky. The wind just battled the boat. If you sat outside you got drenched by the waves, so I tried sitting inside for a bit. Inside was damp and hot, and full of the sounds and smells of others getting sea-sick. I decided to chance the wet over sickness and ended up hanging out in the walkway with Andy, chatting with the crew. We talked about boats and marine work. I’m so lucky that Andy also loves boats and the water and can handle a bumpy ride without getting ill. He truly is the perfect partner.
On the way back to Doolin, the boat toured by the Cliffs of Mohar, offering us a spectacular, from the water, view. It was an exquisite detour. It started raining as soon as we docked, so we ran to the car, bumped the heat to warm up and drove through Doolin a bit. In all our exploration, we still hadn’t taken the time to explore the town we were staying in – and it’s completely adorable. We ended up stopping to duck into this wonderful shop for coffee and shopping – and I found so many lovely things. I stopped myself from buying everything I saw and, instead, walked out with homemade soap and a beautiful Irish Waterford crystal blown glass desk bauble. It’s gorgeous! (And, almost a year later, it’s still resting proudly on my desk, reminding me of our beautiful adventure.)
Once we found our way back to our little cottage, we rested a bit while the weather roared outside. Andy took a well-deserved nap while I curled up and did a little writing. Intent on visiting as many pubs as possible, we opted to try O’Conner’s pub for dinner and music that night. The food was delicious, but the pub was large, and we were a bit too far away from the music to get to enjoy more than the drifting sounds of it. After dinner, we tried to nudge our way into the main section of the pub in order to hear the music, but that section had a true, crowded, bar feel. Neither of us was drinking and there wasn’t room to sit, so, after hanging around a bit to listen, we ventured out into the rain and went back to the cozy comfort of our cottage.