The Doolin Folk Festival is a highlight on the Irish music calendar and I was lucky enough to be here. The atmosphere in this old rural- seaside town was buzzing with Irish music fans and the Barn at the Hotel Doolin was packed with happy people. On the first night, The Fiddle Case with special guest Luka Bloom, was the highlight. Every one of those guys could play their instrument and sing, sad songs and bright jigs, brilliantly. The next night, Mary Coughlan rocked the stage with her big, bouncy character and bold voice. Three lovely Aussie ladies, The Maes, showed off their talent with multiple string instruments and strong voices, the next night. The whole event was well worth the trip and Doolin itself is a great place to see some other Irish highlights.
The Aran Islands are only a ferry ride away. I braved the huge swell for twenty minutes to visit the closest island, Inisheer. This island was settled back in the 1500’s and is small enough to explore in a day. Ancient, slate dry-walls border the laneways and make compartments of paddocks. Horses poke their noses over the walls for a pat while cows look on. Tourists get around either by horse and cart, bikes or on foot like me. There’s a shipwreck and lighthouse to reach and, apparently, a seal colony on a large rock platform. I didn’t see any seals. They must have been at work, fishing. The café I went to was run by a very International, young couple that were enthusiastic and served modern food like walnut bread and carrot and ginger soup. Both delicious. An Irish/Red Setter practically sat on my lap on the boat trip back, which was a welcome diversion from the wild sea.
You also get to see the Cliffs of Moher from Doolin. These cliffs are striking, the sheer drop and height making you feel quite vulnerable; health and safety hasn’t caught on here. One area is safe and paved and the other is a muddy, slippery, puddle-filled track along the edge. This way is, of course, the best way. The view is stunning but you want to be careful taking that special photo.
So if you can get to Doolin in June and time it with the festival, it’s good craic!