Recent Tweets

Follow Me on Twitter

Powered by Twitter Tools

Juicy Bites

Looking for Something?


The Bones of Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher and the Burren

This entry is part of a series, Ireland 2009»


We breakfasted at the Maigue, our usual start. I tried tea this time, and it was great, but not my style. PJ seems to enjoy it, though. And toast. She has toast almost every morning here; maybe I’ve missed out on one of her favorites at home? Hhmmm….

Mr. Carey was waiting outside the reception area a few minutes before our usual start time of 0900, and we were quickly off to the northlands. Today’s strategic plan of attack: Visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. To get there we went through Limerick and then turned west along the northern bank of the Shannon. Our first stop was Dromoland Castle, an estate that is now a golf resort and five-star hotel.

Dromoland is also a popular place for weddings, with great grounds and facilities for handling crowds of rowdy, beer drinking, rice tossing guests, large and small. The place is so beautiful you don’t even have to leave for a honeymoon, especially if you (and your new spouse) golf.


We moved on, reaching Ennistymon a bit later. This is the largest town in the region after Limerick, and has an interesting history. The river that flows through has some interesting small water cascades, not really full waterfalls, and there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in the village with a view of the pretty river valley. We didn’t stay long; we had a long road ahead of us. I could see, though, how this location would be a good one to set up camp in, if you wanted to spend several days exploring County Clare in detail.

Before we reached the Cliffs we stopped for a photo op at Lahinch, which has nice shops and a great view of the ocean. The beach at Lahinch is very popular with locals and tourists alike. The tide was way out, so there were lots of interesting tidal pools and such in view.

On the road to Moher is a special little monument called Bridget’s Well, near the town of Liscannor. We stopped and took photos. A restful place, but at the time we were there it was very bright and getting on towards hot, so we didn’t stay for very long.

Cliffs of Moher

It’s only a matter of a few miles from Liscannor to the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are the most-photographed scene in all of Ireland. The crowd we saw there would certainlly support that statement! We had a bright sky with interesting clouds, but the light wasn’t shining directly on the cliffs; they face west, and that sort of lighting only happens in the late afternoon hereabouts. The photos still turned out nice, and we walked (up and down!) around quite a lot.

Because of the bright sunshine I decided to buy a hat. Not just any ol’ hat, of course! I neeed one that would help me go native, so I could travel incognito. After all, I really needed to look less like a tourist and more like a local. There is a row of shops outside the Moher Visitors Experience (centre), so I shopped. Somehow, in the last shop I looked in, I found the ideal hat. Isn’t it odd how it always works out like that? Anyway, this hat is green and has Ireland stitched into it, so I knew it would help me blend in.

Brian's Tower

O’Brien’s Tower is a small castle on the Cliffs of Moher. More of a lookout, really. There are all sorts of legends about it, and about who lived there and when. The Irish government has lovingly restored it and it’s a great example of towers you can see all along the western coast. I was a bit tweaked, however, when I saw they were charging two euros just to go in and go up the stairs! It’s only two floors, after all, and there’s barely room to swing a cat. I might have spared twenty pence, but not two whole euros! What do they thing we’re made of, money? Since I didn’t want to suddenly appear touristy and give up my protective coloration, I declined to pay. Which meant they declined to let me in. Such small minds…

We returned to the visitors center after a bit of exploring and lots of picture-clicking. We bought refreshments and then went outside. We were suddenlly engulfed in a small crowd, all admiring a young crow standing on the entrance sign. This raven was basically a pet of the security staff of the park, and he would let them pet him. Others in the crowd also touched him, although he seemed less pleased by that. I got to within a foot or so, but I didn’t raise my hand. Have you seen the beaks on those things? I have grown inordinately fond of all ten of my fingers, so I decided not to risk any. It was a fine opportunity to see a famous type of bird up close and personal. I can see how Poe might write a poem about them.


As soon as we left the Cliffs we entered the Burren, an area of over 500 square kilometers that’s basically all slate-colored limestone. I’m used to limestone looking more yellow than this stuff, and the Burren’s rock is harder than the limestone in the Texas Hill Country. So it weathers into interesting shapes, especially right along the ocean where wind and waves can work together on the bones of Ireland.

During survey operations inthe Burren in 1651, Edmund Ludlow, a general in Cromwell’s expedition to subdue and punish Ireland, stated, “We entered into the Barony of Burren, of which it is said, that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him…… and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing.” Edmund had it about right, it seems.

Dromoland Hotel

We traveled just inland for a while, near Doolin and on towards Aillade. Both of these locations have famous caves, but we chose not to stop and explore underground. After all, you’ve got to leave something to visit next time! The road took us farther into Craggycorradan, “the craggy lands of Clan Corridan.” The land appeared very stark and uninviting, but the sheep and cows all looked fat and happy. We met very little traffic, and saw almost no houses or people out on the land.

Driving through and photographing such landscape sure worked up a big hunger for us all, and an even bigger thirst for me. John said he knew a good place along the ocean, in Ballyvaughan: Monks Pub & Seafood Restaurant. The place is fairly large, as pubs and eateries go in these parts, and the view is spectacular.

Paula Jo had a Crab Salad Sandwich, served open-face with trimmings on the side. I had a BLT Sandwich with crisps (potato chips on our side of the pond), and it was made with Real Irish Bacon; not that stripey stuff we get back home. John had a simple ham sandwich, one of his favorite quick lunches. I thought the food was good but not great; the beer was cold and refreshing, though, and that made things mellow enough for us to consider trudging on.


The next bit of travel took us “up and over” on the Burren, on the way to Poulnabrone. We drove through Newtown, Ballyallaban, Berneens, Glennisheen, Lisgoogan, and Glenslane in rapid succession, then turned off to see the megalithic dolmen at Poulnabrone: Clare’s Rock.

What an amazing structure! Several thousand years old, a burial ground and ancient religious site, out in the middle of karstic limestone and scrub grass. It’s not been destroyed, and hasn’t needed any real renovation in modern times. Over thirty bodies have been found inside the dolmen, which has quite a large room underground. We didn’t get to crawl down there, though. Still, this is one of the Great Sites to Visit if you should ever go nearby.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Very close to Clare’s Rock is a good example of a ring fort at Caherconnell. There are over 500 such ring forts scattered across Ireland, in all states of (dis)repair. This one was only so-so, as we learned. As our first ever, though, it was a fascinating structure to explore. We climbed about a bit, where allowed, and stooped and looked into some of the low rooms.

By this time the day was getting short, so we chose to move on back to Adare. Limerick was directly in our path, and when we got there the rush hour was well under way. John, ever the professional driver, knew we’d be spending way too long getting across town on the main drag; he took us off through the residential districts and cut a goodly bit of time off the travel. Sooner than we expected we were driving by the Manor on our way into Adare.


Paula Jo and I were tired of eating out, and not very hungry yet because we’d had a late lunch. We decided to check out the grocery “downtown” and see what they might have for snacks. We asked the receptionist at the Dunraven, and she mentioned we should visit “the new supermarket” in Adare. Big news! Now there’s two grocery stores! We grabbed our stuff and headed out.

Just around the corner from the bank, in a new building, is the new supermarket. Nobody mentions the name, just that it’s “the new one.” It’s a pleasant enough little shop, but not a supermarket as we know it. We didn’t find everything we wanted, though we did find some useful supplies in addition to some snacks. Since it was only one block over, we moved to the “old grocery,” the Centra on the main street. We found a few more things to stock our room with. You can’t say we weren’t doing our part to pump up the Irish economy!

We relaxed in our room and snacked, watching some rugby on TV, and otherwise got ready for bed. It seemed a shame to always be going to sleep when it’s light out, but tomorrow’s a big day: Touring the Dingle Peninsula…

Enjoy the (Extra Rocky) Heat!

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments are closed.