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Ireland 2017 – Day 11

Sunday, May 14, 2017

As I open my eyes this morning I am trying to remember what day it is, oh, it’s Sunday. My mind reaches back to a couple days ago, when we were driving along the coast in the Burren and we see the guys jump into the nothingness of the black hole by the ocean. It’s Sunday and we are doing that?

We go downstairs to another hearty full Irish Breakfast of sausage, bacon, fried eggs, baked tomatoes, and toast. That is after the course of juice, cereal, yogurt and fruit. Man, am I going to get fat here? I’m still hungry, I must be working it off.

We drive up to Galway where we meet Micheal and load up in his truck for the drive out the Connemara Peninsula to the west coast. After about an hour we make a stop at the beautiful Kylemore Abbey. It is a quick stop just to buy coffee and use the facilities. But it is certainly picturesque on the lake with the mountainous backdrop. Passing through the Connemara National Park Chris has his eye on several area that would make for some good rock climbing and Micheal confirms that there are groups that come out this way.
Kylemore AbbeyKylemore Abbey
Kylemore AbbeyEric, Chris and Vicky at Kylemore Abbey
As we reach the coastal area we drive to the end of this small lane and then continue over the grassy field until we are looking down upon the rocky coastline and a seemingly tropical beach in the distance. The white sands and blue waters belie the fact that this is the North Atlantic and water temperature is about 50. Micheal is getting out wetsuits, heavy gloves, and neoprene hoods for us to wear under our helmets and life vests. Time to get geared up!
CoasteeringGeared up and ready to go!
As we approach the barnacle encrusted rocks of the coast the first task is to make our way along the water and up to the top of some rocks. This is our first jump, and Vicky says that Chris has the next birthday. He is all smiles as he approaches the precipice and Micheal gives him instructions. Look to the horizon, don’t look down as you will face plant and it will hurt, arms across your chest and hold onto your vest, jump out and then feet together. When you come up be sure to give me the OK, fist to helmet three times, ok jump when you are ready. Chris bounds off the cliff falling some 20 to 25 feet into the ocean waves, clawing and sputtering he comes to the surface, and then a quick three bumps to the helmet. As he is swimming across to the other side, Vicky takes her leap and it is my turn. I look down, it is a long way down, I go over the instructions in my head and look to the horizon, ok leap! I plunge deep into the ocean and realize the coolness of the water as I push my way to the surface, no wonder Chris came up sputtering.
CoasteeringSwimming in the North Atlantic
CoasteeringVicky Jumping
CoasteeringEric Jumping
CoasteeringChris Jumping
We exit the ocean through a really cool rock archway where we have the option to climb up on the arch and do an even higher jump. Chris and Vicky start the climb, but I need to catch my breath so I choose to sit so I could watch the entire jump. It is definitely a long way down, wow!
CoasteeringChris 1
CoasteeringChris 2
CoasteeringChris 3

The day continues with the exploration of ocean caves, body surfing on outgoing waves, climbing over rocks and even more jumps. In some cases the wave action against the rocks made for swimming in some interesting currents. On one such occasion, the current seemed to be pulling us right into the face of the cliff. We were soon to discover a swim through below the water level that led to the other side. Taking a deep breath and timing it with an incoming wave I blasted through the tunnel to reach air and a tumult of swirling water on the other side. As we return back up to the truck I say to myself, now this is a day to remember.

After all our exertions we are famished, even after the huge breakfast we all had. Micheal calls ahead to a favorite place in his hometown and we all place orders for the bacon cheese burger. This burger is a good half pound, but I do put it away along with most of my fries. Satisfied we discuss options for the rest of the day and decide upon a hike up a local hilltop as opposed to a long drive back along the coast – action packed family we are.

When we get to the hillside the winds have really picked up and we all opt for an additional layer as we leave the truck at the small marina. Micheal has long legs and is apparently quite used to charging up the hillside. We have to practically jog to sort of keep up, but we do understand that he needs to sort of keep a schedule to get us back to town before too late, and it does appear that dark clouds are forming up. The views are great looking out over the hills and the lakes below and so well worth the hike to the top. A concrete marker at the hilltop serves as a wind block and we watch as the rain seems to flow around our position, leaving us with just a few drops here and there. After the rain has past we make our way back down the hill and to the truck for the long drive back into Galway.
Hill topChris and Vicky resting on the hillside
Hill topRain is coming!
Hill topChris and Vicky resting at the hill top
Hill topPhoto op with rain in the background
Hill topPhoto op on the hill top

We return to Keanes Restaurant and Bar tonight as i am still thinking about that toffee pudding and again we sit in the bar area. The food and the waitress are very prompt tonight as it is not so crowded, but the people are still quite interesting to watch as is the ball game on the TV.

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