One of the things that we were most looking forward to when we booked our trip to Ireland was seeing its scenic Cliffs of Moher. For those not in the know, allow me to acquaint you with the Cliffs. Located in the Southeastern edge of Ireland, the Cliffs provide some of the best views of the Irish countryside and coast. My friend and I had seen stunning photos of the Cliffs and this was one of those non-negotiable “have to see” items on our Ireland bucket list.
We only had one day where it fit into our itinerary and luckily we were able to find a tour guide to give us the exact, custom-tailored experience we were looking for. Cue: Jim Parsons of Ireland West Tours. In addition to seeing The Cliffs of Moher, we wanted to see the Burren region of Western Ireland and we also wanted to spend some time in Galway. Jim was the perfect person to make our dream itinerary come true. He was super quick to respond to our email outlining what we’d like to do and see, and he suggested that we take a train from Dublin to a stop near Galway where he would pick us up himself. From there, we would drive to the Cliffs and the Burren region, and he would drop us off at the end of the day in Galway’s city center so that we could grab dinner and bar hop before making our bus to Cork later in the evening.
I can’t stress enough how thoughtful Jim was in helping us achieve all of our itinerary goals. His expertise and knowledge of the reason was clutch, because we didn’t know or understand the geography of Ireland at all, and were having a hard time planning out the logistics. He responded to us quickly and conscientiously and before you know it, we were on our way.
Once we got into Jim’s car, I learned how he got into the tour business. Essentially, he had been a cab driver in Ireland for years and grew up in West Ireland. He and his wife were on an anniversary trip in Thailand and did a bus tour and felt as if they didn’t have the autonomy to see the sights they wanted to see and they felt like they were being corralled and sent to markets where the tour guides got kickbacks. The next day, they did a semiprivate tour, but wound up being the only people on the tour with the guide. The guide allowed them to customize the trip, seeing exactly what they wanted to see. That’s when the idea dawned on Jim to replicate the same experience back home in the area he knew and loved.
Driving from Galway to the Cliffs was half the fun. Jim pointed out abandon castles and gave us history of the region along the drive. It was clear immediately that he had grown up in the surrounding area because he knew the history inside and out. Being city girls, we “oohed and ahhed” every time we saw country animals grazing in the fields. So, we’d have Jim pull over pretty much every time we saw wild horses, sheep, cows, you name it, so that we could snap photos, and selfies, with the livestock. He was endlessly patient with us on this.
Before going to the Cliffs, we went to an area called The Burren. The Burren is in County Clare and it is filled with natural limestone throughout the region. It was here that Jim told us about the unusual temperature in the Burren because of all of the limestone. There are also rare species of plants and fauna in the area.
When we got to the Cliffs it was raining pretty hard, but we were determined to get to the top and take in the views. A little wind and rain never hurt anybody and we persevered and broke an umbrella along the way. We got to the top with wet hair and a definite chill, but it was totally worth it and has made for a funny story since. The green of the cliffs contrasted against the turquoise waters are really otherworldly.
At the end of the day, Jim drove us back to Galway. We explained that we wanted to have dinner and check out some bars before heading to Cork, and he made sure to drop us off in just the right spot in Galway so that we could hit up its famous bars and restaurants in one fell swoop. We had the best day and would gladly recommend Ireland West Tours to our readers!