Sunday, January 28, 2007

DK Goes to County Clare

I had such a great time in the West yesterday! Megan and I took the train to Galway on Friday evening, which took about 2 1/2 hours. We had dinner in Galway and stayed at a little bed & breakfast near the town center. The next morning, Megan went to spend the day in Galway city, shopping and what not, while I took a bus tour that went through the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, both of which are in County Clare. The Burren is a big, rocky area that is made mostly of limestone, and the Cliffs of Moher are very tall, dramatic cliffs on the Atlantic. Pictures are up on Picasa Web--mainly a bunch of pictures of rocks and cliffs, but there are some real winners in there.

The bus dropped us off at a farm house in the Burren where we went on a 1 1/2 hour guided hike through the rocks. John, our guide, had recently earned a degree in history and geology, and told us all sorts of interesting things about the Burren and how it has figured into Irish history, as well as how it factors into the lives of Irish farmers today. There are lots of fairy and pixie related stories pertaining to the Burren and the vegetation that grows there. Supposedly, the wildflowers there in spring are amazing--I'll definitely be heading back there in a few months for that.

Next we stopped off for a quick photo op at the Poulnabrone Dolmen, an ancient Stonehenge-ish tomb from 2500 BC. Very cool.

The Cliffs of Moher were amazing. They were a lot like the dramatic cliffs of Northern California and Oregon, but much much bigger--700 feet high! I couldn't get too close to the edge because they've built a wall that keeps visitors about 30 feet back. It gets really windy there, and a number of people have been blown off the edge over the years--for reals! During the spring, puffins roost on the cliffs--another reason to come back in a few months!

On the way back to Galway, we stopped for another photo op at Dunguaire Castle--one of the dozens of castles we saw. OK, not dozens, but enough castles that I lost count at some point. In the summer, this castle hosts medieval banquets. I'm definitely coming back for that.

This trip has opened up a whole new side of Ireland to me. Dublin is great, but it was so nice to get out and see what else Ireland has to offer. It was super easy to take the train, and I was able to get clear across the country in no time at all. I'll be taking the train to various points of Irish interest a lot more often from now on.

No comments: