Driving the northern route of the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland gave me one of the best surprises. My friend, Ryan, and I drove along watching for road signs pointing out interesting viewpoints or scenic routes along the western coast of Ireland. He and I stopped what seemed like every five minutes to take this picture or shoo that sheep. Towards the end of the day, he and I passed a sign that read “Sliabh Liag.” Seeing as how neither of us read Irish nor were we really up for yet another stop, we carried on.
Upon our arrival at the hostel, the owner quickly pointed out areas of interest on the map. “Sleeve Lee is a must see. It’s about a fifteen minute drive from here,” he told us. Having lived in Ireland for one year, I’ve slowly learned a few Irish sounds, and I recognized “Sleeve Lee” phonetically to be Sliabh Liag in Irish. Knowing that we drove past this stop earlier that night, we made plans for it to be the first stop the following morning.
First thing Monday morning, Ryan and I piled all of our gear back into the rental car and backtracked to Sliabh Liag. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect. The owner of the hostel explained to us that the cliffs at Sliabh Liag were the largest sea cliffs in Europe.
We were going to see some more cliffs. This is Ireland. We had seen countless cliffs throughout the year. What could be so wonderful about these cliffs aside from them being Europe’s largest sea cliffs?
He and I turned down another single lane road headed in the direction of nowhere. Following trusty Google Maps to get us there, he and I side-glanced at each other as the road got slimmer and the rocks got bigger.
All of the sudden there was a curve in the road. On the other side of the bend, the island stopped. Literally, Ireland was no more. What I could see was the deep blue color of the Atlantic Ocean stretching far into the horizon. Immediately to our right was the largest cliff face I have ever seen.
There is something truly magnificent about mountains and cliffs. Whether they are reaching for the heavens or diving into the sea, my heart is called to them
Sliabh Liag both shot into the heavens and dove into the sea.
Atop the highest peaks was green grass and jagged rocks. Sliding down the cliff face were streaks of green, white, and orange from years of wear. At the base of the cliffs, the Atlantic Ocean gathered in a wide pool of blue.
Hikers walked along the ridge of Sliabh Liag as if the edge of the world didn’t exist. Tourists stopped to take photos of the flora and fauna. Ryan and I stayed along the created sidewalk taking in the natural wonders of the scene.
I climbed the rocks looking for a place that gave away to the edge of the cliff. When I found one, I sat down and thought about my time in Ireland.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to take part in such a wonderful experience. Ireland was the place where I grew as a person and learned who I can be and what I want to be. My experiences in Ireland shaped me more than any number of columns could ever describe.
While sitting on that rock in Sliabh Liag, I said a silent goodbye to Ireland promising to return one day with my family to tell them of my adventures on the Emerald Island.