We left what we thought was the end of earth for the actual end of the earth — Malin Head, Donegal. After not finding anyone manning the desk at our hostel in Moville, we decided to make a mad dash for the northernmost point in Ireland. Did it matter that it was icy, windy, and rapidly getting dark? No, no it didn’t. It turns out that the northernmost point in Ireland (in January) is exactly as spectacular and utterly uninviting as you would expect. Heading down the stark coast, we stopped by the metaphysical cliffs of Slieve League, where Amanda pleaded with Joris for the 51st time to please not scale cliffs in tornado-like wind. And while wind is nothing new in Donegal, it turns out we were being accompanied by a massive Atlantic storm that produced incredible winds (and atmosphere). Luckily, we were in the surf town of Bundoran, and got to see some wicked waves, as well as the incongruous Irish surf culture.
Things started to calm down as we left Donegal for the lovely counties of Sligo + Mayo. We weren’t yet free of ice, though we were free of heat at our hostel in Letterfrack (aptly called the Old Monastery Hostel). We were quickly humbled by the Iron Age ruins of Carrowkeel, set high in the snowy, rocky hills of Sligo (they didn’t have heat, either). Things got more genteel as we headed to Galway and Connemara, following in the footsteps of The Quiet Man. It was easy to see why John Wayne wanted to go back — they really didn’t have to do anything to the countryside to make it more quaint. It’s just that quaint.