Yesterday, we got the remarkable opportunity to go on a last minute (free) day tour of the Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding sites in Clare County.
We woke up early and went to mass at a Convent just up the street. It was a really good experience filled with profound liturgy and sound homily. There were about 30 people in the small chapel we were in. The priest stood on a platform that separated us from the nuns in another room. Sure, there are differences, but overall, it was a refueling experience.
After the service, we caught the bus for the day tour. We visited sites over 6000 years old and then more recent places too. On the tour, we saw a castle and surrounding towns. And, then we saw the remains of an Abbey, several churches, burial grounds, hide-outs, and finally the famous Cliffs of Moher (these are the “Cliffs of Insanity” from the movie Princess Bride).
The places we saw on the way to the cliffs were cool, but it was almost more amazing to simply watch out the window at the rolling lush green hills and winding stone fences (which have wholes in them to let the wind pass through so they don’t fall down–I thought it was just because they were old). And, our tour guide, Desmond, made the whole experience even grander. He made jokes the whole way up and back, constantly flaunting his Irish-ness. He has been working as a tour guide for this company for over 18 years! Until the end of the day we didn’t realize he was more than just funny, but he was a genuinely heartfelt old man.
Ask us for the full story in person, but the heart-warming ending goes like this…
A girl on our tour bus was trying to make it back in time to catch a bus to Shannon to catch a flight to Liverpool that was going out that night, but we were running a little behind schedule. Desmond knew we wouldn’t make it back in time, but he knew where we would intersect this other bus on our way back. So, he took a faster route back in order to drop her off at this other bus stop (so she could make the bus to make the plane). Unbeknownst to her and the rest of us, Desmond was nervous if we were going to make it even to this other spot to meet the bus, so he had called his wife to drive to this bus stop to pick up the girl in case she missed the bus. He had asked his wife to drive the girl about an hour to the airport so she wouldn’t miss her flight!
Well, we are coming into the town where we are supposed to drop the girl off, and we see the bus stop and people still waiting at it (which means the bus hadn’t come yet). Desmond ramps our large charter bus onto the sidewalk, turns on his flashers, jumps out to stop traffic and directs the girl across the street to the bus stop just as the bus is pulling up. She ran the whole way from our bus to that one but she made it! Our whole bus was relieved, but no one more than Desmond. He got on the bus and called his wife to reassure her that she could turn around and head back home because the girl had made it on the bus. Then, he explained his back-up plan to us over the loud speaker, expressing obvious relief and wholehearted care that this random girl had made her connection. He proceeded to tell us how sorry he was for the delay and that this was a family-run company that understands peoples’ plights.
Though it was a longer day than expected, we were so happy we made the trip and that we made it with Desmond! Enjoy some of the pictures!