Gillick's World: Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way Re-published August 2015 - Page 17

Pat Sweeney is the active ingredient in making the Cliffs come alive The Doolin Cliff Walk: Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Walk There are several ways to visit the iconic Cliffs of Moher, including coach tours and car rentals. But the most dramatic, meaningful, visual and experiential way to visit the Cliffs is to embark on The Doolin Cliff Walk -a 5 ½ km walking trail that begins at Gus O’Connor’s Pub in the village of Doolin, and ends at the Cliffs of Moher. And the best way to appreciate the walking trail is to walk it with the man who is primarily responsible for the trail’s existence: Pat Sweeney. Pat grew up in the area with his farm house overlooking the Cliffs. Today, the family B &B, “Doonagore Farmhouse”, named after a 15th Century Castle that once dominated the area, reflects Pat’s passionate perspective on the value of the Cliffs: their history, their meaning and the forces of nature that created them and changes them on a daily basis. Pat is the first to admit that this trail constitutes Irelands “Wild Atlantic Walk”. With Pat’s guidance, he and I walked the mostly gravel trail in January 2014. He had to convince 38 local farmers to allow the trail to pass through their property. The trail hugs the top of the Cliffs as they rise to 375 feet and then higher to 702 feet. We passed by an ancient bridge framing one of the O’Brien Castles in the background; a site that not too many visitors see, due to the prominent location of Brien’s Tower, a few kilometers away, at the highest point on the Cliffs.