April 9, 2009
by Claire Moncla
Claire Moncla, a professional writing major in the College of Arts and Sciences, participated in the Baylor in Maastricht study abroad program. Her essay below is one in a four-part series chronicling her experience in the program.
Hordes of tourists often compromise the enjoyment of travel. Crowds of people with cameras and shopping bags clog quaint streets and disrupt the natural beauty of parks. It is hard to find a famous city untouched by souvenir shops and gimmicky restaurants. Yet if you go off the radar, stray even a little from the famous cities with their public transportation and convenient lodging, you may find some lasting bastions of untouched European beauty.
One place of untouched beauty in Ireland is Dunmore East. Tucked away in the southeast coast of Ireland, the small fishing village of Dunmore East provides a tranquil getaway from the crowds and busy streets of tourist cities.
Dunmore East is located in Waterford County, only 30 minutes away from the more well known Waterford. Getting there, however, is not without its difficulties. Lacking a car, Dunmore East can only be reached by a private bus company called SuirWay, which is based in Waterford. Although some may find using a private company to be a hassle, the bus fare to Dunmore East is under five euro so the trip is definitely worth it. Plus, SuirWay is primarily used by locals with only a few visitors sprinkled in.
Once in Dunmore East, SuirWay buses drive through the main roads between the upper and lower village, dropping off passengers at their desired locations. After exiting the bus, this quaint village is small enough to easily navigate on foot.
Beginning at the topmost point of the upper village, there are a series of grassy hills, rocky cliffs and sandy coves. Curving up past the village, these cliffs run along smooth meadows enclosed by stone fences and framed by small houses. At these high points the wind whips around explorers adding to the uninhibited, almost wild beauty of the southern Irish coast.
A narrow path lined with thorns and prickly Gorse bushes, evergreen shrubs with small yellow flowers common to the south-east of Ireland, trails along the steep hills. Following this path is a thrilling way to explore the breathtaking sights of the coast. From these hills on clear days, Hook Lighthouse, a famous medieval lighthouse, can even be seen across the bay.
Heading back toward upper village and down the main street, follow the water past a small harbor with colorful fishing boats enclosed by a rock jetty. Passing this harbor and continuing down the main road you find a park with a playground, a large expanse of green grass and several benches looking out on the water. Nearing sunset, families walking home from the park toward the village interior with its thatched roofs and small stone walls give Dunmore East a charming Old World feel. Past the park, between upper and lower villages, is one of Dunmore East's many beaches, Lawlors.
Lawlors has a large stretch of sandy beach flanked by tall cliff faces. The water may be cold during these early spring months, but not too cold to take off your shoes, roll up your jeans and let your toes sink into the Irish sand as the icy swells languidly roll in.
Continuing through lower village past Lawlors beach, numerous other coves and cliffs dot the coastline, ready to be explored. Yet a stroll through the village is also an interesting way to get a taste of quaint Irish living.
Dunmore East truly is a city encapsulated in time. With few visitors filling the several cafés, bed and breakfasts and seafood restaurants, Dunmore East does not have the feel of a tourist town. The cafés and restaurants are inhabited by locals and there are no souvenir shops. Once you step outside the village, it's hard to imagine 21st century ever encroaching on the strikingly jagged rocks and green hills -their tall grass rippling like the waves that crash beneath them in the fierce wind.
Once you've experienced Dunmore East, you want it to stay this way forever, hugging the beauty of the relentless Atlantic Ocean, caught in a simpler, almost mythological time.
Read Claire's other essays on her time in Europe:
Sunday Mass in the Notre Dame Cathedral
By spending time in one of the world’s most famous churches, Claire offers insight on where church really is.
Bonnefanten: The Building That Connects Past With Present
At once remaining silent and speaking volumes, the Bonnefanten building has been witness to history and transformation.
Carnival in Maastricht
An incredible four-day celebration, Carnival offers lessons in putting aside worries and stress for spending time with friends and family.
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