Our tour of the West Coast of Ireland continues down south, taking us to Cliffs of Moher once again this time I am with my good friend, Chris, with more time and with Couchsurfing. We venture to the town of Liscannor, the southern part of country Clare, where our hosts lived. This family graciously took us in and immediately made us feel at home. Even their kids, who were so used to having strangers around, we became friends with very quickly. The family took us for a walk along the coast towards the Cliffs of Moher. There were times Chris and I broke off to explore a section of the cliffs, such as the Hag’s Head, probably one of the more beautiful and less touristy part of the cliffs. When we got to the car park, we broke off once again to finish the hike to Doolin, while the family went back home to rest. The coast changed drastically after an hour of trekking, from cliffs to jagged edged beaches. Incredible terrain and views.
I just can’t get enough of Ireland. The more I travel around this country, the more in love I become with it, the people, the landscape, hell even the weather, because it’s been so incredibly lovely here. After visiting the ever so volatile Northern Ireland, I finally enter back into the republic after being a whole month away from it. It feels… familiar. There is absolutely nothing that we’ve seen that can compare to the West Coast of Ireland.Â
Northern Ireland, the Missing Head of the Teddy Bear.Â
Northern Ireland is one gorgeous place, especially in the coastal areas of the region. We are lucky enough to stay with some locals in these parts of the region, making it very convenient to explore the area. This regionÂ is also known for being one of the major sites where the infamous Game of Thrones is filmed. There are even rather expensive tours that feature the sites where the show have filmed. The entire island of Ireland looks like a teddy bear to the locals and Northern Ireland represents the head of the bear, which they always tell the British, “give our head back!”.Â
My decision to not head to Romania turned out to be a fantastic decision as I get to spend more time in Ireland. This time, I decided to explore the North side of the Island, the part where itâ€™s not actually in the Republic. Landing in Belfast and meeting my host, it was a little weird to hear Irish accents in the UK. As my host was a retired tour guide, he decided to take me around the city. He gave me the full breakdown of the history of the city and told me lots of stories that have happened in the individual neighbourhoods.
At certain neighbourhoods, he warned me to be careful to not talk to too much as they were rather contested and dangerous area considering how I clearly donâ€™t belong there. Though it made me feel a little uncomfortable being there, it was slightly thrilling as well, knowing that Iâ€™m walking through dark history and where no visitors go to.
Murals vsÂ Murals
The entire city of Belfast was plastered with dozens of murals and paintings of political and regional history, showcasing their grief, anger and patriotism. In parts where English and Irish border each other, walls and gates were set up so high that it made the Berlin and Israeli walls look short. The houses situated right next to the fences had to be reinforced with cages to prevent fiery or physical damages from things thrown across. Intense stuff.
As I had come on one of the most momentous occasion of the entire year or even century, there were many decorations for the up and coming Easter celebrations, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1916. Many parades were taking place all over Belfast and the spirits were high, and weary. It was perilous times as the English wanted to take part and hold their own parades, however, they wanted to march through one of the Irish sectors to get to the next English sector which poses a problem for all sides. These setbacks were causing the already shaky peace agreements between the two sides to be even more unsettled.
Let the Festivities Begin!
Nonetheless, on Easter Sunday, my host took me to the main street where all the festivities and parades were taking place. There were hundreds of people marching and even more spectating and observing this incredibly big day for them. Iâ€™m glad to be here in Northern Ireland to learn about the troubled history of Belfast and to experience firsthand proud spirits of the Irish, still fighting for their freedom. This is all thanks to my host who took the time to drive me around, show me places where not even locals go to and tell me all the stories and important parts of the history.
Have you ever been in a contested and dangerous area like Belfast?
The short trip to Killarney county bore many stories for me, most of which came from hitch-hiking. The best one was when I got to Killarney, I was walking towards a decent hitching point when a jaguar pulled over ahead where my spot was. Thinking that he was simply picking someone up or dropping something off, I walked ahead to find another spot. Little did I know, he signalled me over. He pulled over to put something in the back seat but saw me and wanted to give me a ride. What Luck?! This old gentleman in an old jaguar gave me a ride to Kenmare while stopping along the way to check out several view points of the National Park. He then gave me his contact in case I needed anywhere to stay in Kenmare. It might sound creepy but this sweet old man was nothing but a generous kind saint. Needless to say I took up his offer and turned out to be a start of a friendship.