Our trip around Ireland was nearing its completion, but the surprises that Ireland had in store for us didn’t stop just because we left the coast. After our phenomenal find on St. John’s Point, we received yet another great tip for a spot off the beaten path. If I learned one thing from this trip, it is how helpful innkeepers are at helping you find the “ins” in Ireland. So many times we would have driven past amazing sights had we not been instructed to go “a wee bit down the road” and find something amazing!
Our innkeepers at Harbour Lights were no exception — I don’t remember how the topic came up, but they told us we should check-out the “highest cliffs in all of Europe.” And of course we had already been to the Cliffs of Moher — but no! That was not it at all. Though the Cliffs of Moher were very breathtaking and awe-inspiring, those were not the highest cliffs in all of Europe.
Sliabh Liag – or “Slieve League” in American – are three times as high as the Cliffs of Moher, and though the cliffs at Sliabh Liag aren’t as sheer as the Cliffs of Moher, they left me dizzy with the immensity of the place.
If you happen to be traveling in Donegal- Sliagn Liag is a must see– beautiful, and far less trafficked by tourists (which is a huge plus in my book).
Like so many times before, it was difficult to leave a place so impressive, but we started to slowly make our way back to the east side of Ireland where our plane would be leaving in three days time.
Cutting inland, we drove through mountains and past beautiful lakes on our way to the lovely town of Carrick-on-Shannon. This was probably one of my favorite little towns that we stayed in. The name comes from the fact that the town is amazingly situated right on the River Shannon – a river with a glorious history and even more fascinating mythology. The Shannon runs from Shannon Pot in County Cavan to the Shannon Estuary in County Limerick where it dumps into the sea. It is the longest river in Ireland (over 360 km, or 224 miles long), and it was the source of much joy that day!
Our bed and breakfast that night was Hollywell Country House.
The flyer from Hollywell
Like several other places we stayed, I’m not sure if it is still a bed and breakfast. It is listed on TripAdvisor, but the last review was left in 2014, and they do not have their own website. However, when we were there, it felt like we were staying in a storybook house.
The proprietors and me at the front door
Hollywell was named after the owner’s dog, Holly pictured below.
The house itself was absolute perfection – my father described it as looking like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice would come walking out the front door. The proprietors were very kind people — as were nearly all of the innkeepers we encountered. And they had a very inviting sitting area where my mom found an Irish picture book that she nearly stowed away in her luggage because she liked it so much (just kidding, Mom… or am I?).
Our room at Hollywell
The breakfast room
Me in the sitting room
Mom contemplating how she can steal that Irish picture book 😁
The view from Hollywell into Carrick-on-Shannon
After checking in at Hollywell, we walked across a bridge into the town and enjoyed walking around and going into the shops. My purchase of the day was a copy of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra because I had just finished Julius Caesar a few days prior. My parents razed me for being such a nerd that my “souvenir” was Shakespearean play which most people my age wouldn’t go near. But… I was/am an odd duck – I’m not ashamed to admit it!
The innkeepers told us that you could take a river cruise on the Shannon, so that is exactly what we did. It was the perfect day for it! The sun was shinning, and it was so warm I rolled up my sleeves on the boat ride. The boat was small, but we got seated near the front, and thoroughly enjoyed our time.
On the river
Getting some sun on the river cruise
We even passed the bed and breakfast on the boat trip, and my dad got a picture of it from the river.
Hollywell from the River Shannon
Hollywell from the river
As our time in Ireland was coming to a close, there was a certain melancholy with us that evening. I feared that though I felt such a visceral connection to Ireland that I might never get back to this place that had stolen my heart and showed me a beauty that I didn’t know was possible. And if you had told 18 year old me (in 1997) that I wouldn’t be back until 2016 I would have probably cried.
I hope you enjoyed the blog this week. If you are new and haven’t read the other posts in this series, I’ve linked them below in chronological order.
Thanks for stopping by! Next Monday’s post will wrap up my first trip to Ireland, and then I will have to decide what adventure to take you all on next.
The Gift that Launched A Thousand Trips
Dublin: love at first sight
Powerscourt: Surprised by Beauty
Glendalough: My First Love
Waterford: More than Crystal
Blarney: Everything but Kissing the Stone
Kenmare and the Ring of Beara
From the Disappointing to the Magnificent
In Shadows and Sunshine
Surprised by Kylemore Abbey
Happy Little Accidents – St. John’s Point