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Ireland: Loop Head Peninsula

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Loop Head Peninsula | Ireland | Europe

[Visited: June 2017]

Standing on the edge of a vertical drop of layers of black rock, looking straight down to the wild waves below, and feeling utterly excited, it dawned on me that we had not been here if we had not made the mistake of parking our car in a garage for dinner the day before. We had dinner on our way to the southwest, in the town of Limerick where inhabitants denied any connection to the famous poetry, after which we found to our dismay that the garage was locked inside, thus blocking access to our car and possessions. The friendly guardians of our restaurant not only tried to locate the person with the key (found when we had already settled in a local hotel), but also convinced us that it would be much better to turn north from Limerick, to avoid the crowds of the southwest. Thus we did, and we never regretted.

Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The coastline near the tip of Loop Head peninsula, on the Shannon side

Shortly after leaving Limerick, we find a small home where a lady is producing her own ice cream and chocolate, eager to let us taste all of it, and after having a casual look at Kilkee, we proceeded towards the west to explore Loop Head. We saw a small cemetery with carved tombstones and the ruins of a church on our way to Bridges of Ross, which turned out to have only one bridge left. We ended up exploring the spectacular coastline of layers of black rock, in various shapes, with vertical and horizontal layers, arches, and indeed, one natural bridge sculpted by the eternal pounding of the Atlantic waves. When we arrived, the weather was still calm, but the wind picks up as we walk the coastline, and when we leave, we see big waves pounding the black coastline, giving it a permanent white lining. It is time to move on to the end of the peninsula, which we can already see a little ahead, to the west. The white lighthouse of Loop Head has been guarding the northern entrance of the mouth of the Shannon river since the 17th century, standing close to the very end of the peninsula. The exhibition with its many stories makes the place come alive, which is further enhanced by a tour of the lighthouse by a guide with a great sense of humour.

Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The rock off the tip of Loop Head peninsula is not only spectacular, but also the subject of several legendary tales

From here, we see past the buildings of the small compound: the layered coastline, the small rocky islet dubbed Lovers Leap, and the water surrounding it all. No whales or dolphins in sight though. Various legends have heroes jump from the mainland to the sea stack, from the impossibly steep cliffs, bot out of love and to escape a witch. We walk down to the southern side of the peninsula, which is the north side of the mouth of the Shannon river. We find steep, black cliffs, and when we see things from a distance, realize we have walked across a rocky bridge to a sea stack high above the waves that furiously crash against the hard wall. We observe a margin from the very edge of the rocks, mostly because of the unreliable winds. We lie belly down on flat rocks to marvel at the waves constantly attacking the narrow passage between Lovers Leap and the mainland. Close by, the word Eire can still be seen, laid down in painted stones, to warn the pilots in World War II that this was Ireland, and it was not to be bombed. The drive back to Kilkee gives us more views of a green countryside dotted with cows and horses. The next morning, we walk along the coast near Kilkee, with more spectacular coastal landscapes of rocks and wild waves. I made a mental note to return in times of a true storm to experience the full force of the Atlantic waves on this rugged coastline.

Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): View of the coastline close to Kilkee at the eastern side of Loop Head peninsula
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): Layers of black rock against which the Atlantic waves crash continuously near the Bridges of Ross
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The force of waves crashing against the layered cliffs near the tip of Loop Head peninsula
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The natural bridge of Ross at the north side of Loop Head peninsula
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): Cemetery with traditional crosses surrounding the ruins of a stone church
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The buildings at the tip of Loop Head peninsula seen from the lighthouse
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): Traditional carved crosses on tombs at one of the small cemeteries on Loop Head peninsula
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The oceanic side of Loop Head peninsula has some spectacular black layered rock scenery
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The top of the lighthouse near the tip of Loop Head peninsula
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The rocky coast west of Kilkee
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): Low tide in the half-moon shaped bay of Kilkee
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): The rugged coastline at the Shannon side close to the tip of Loop Head peninsula
Picture of Loop Head Peninsula (Ireland): Looking up the rotating Fresnel lens of the Loop Head lighthouse

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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