A blog about "nothing"!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ireland, Part 3--The Burren

Saturday morning--time to pick up the rental car!  After a stop at Galway Crystal (sorry, since it was Saturday no tours :( )  we were on our way south along the West coast of Ireland.  We had a couple of places we definitely wanted to see on the way and the rest of it was just what we found on the way from point A to point B.  The West of Ireland is incredibly rugged and very rocky.  The rocks are used for a number of things, primarily fences, but even with that, there are just a lot of them laying around. 

We had a huge climb up this mountain on probably one of the windingest (is that a word?)  roads I've ever been on:
Notice the hills in the background--the light colors are solid rock--rock as far as the eye can see!  You can see a little bit of the Atlantic Ocean if you look closely too.

On our way south, we made a stop at the Cliffs of Moher--beautiful place, and very windy.  This trip was made the end of March/beginning of April and we encountered a variety of temperatures, some days I had to wear my Lands End parka and other days I was fine with a t-shirt and sweater.  This was a t-shirt and sweater day, but I did have to add a layer while at the Cliffs of Moher.  Ireland is a very moderate climate, rarely does it EVER get below 40 degrees fahrenheit--and not above 70 degrees in the summer months.  I could live there in a heartbeat!
After our stop at the Cliffs of Moher, we headed in to the area known as The Burren.  The word burren means "great rock"--and boy, they weren't kidding!  Holy cow, I wasn't prepared at all for this.  Our plan was to drive around it but as that saying goes "best laid plans"--what we didn't realize was since it was a Saturday, there was a bike race and the road we had planned on traveling on was closed, so we ended up on a totally different road that took us right through the heart of the Burren.  I couldn't help but think a few times "please, don't let the car break down, we'll be stuck here all night"--very remote areas with no houses, I think the only other vehicle we encountered the entire time was a farm tractor! 

 I was standing on the road when I took this pic and the one before it, looking up at the rock--it was literally above our heads on either side of the road. 
The rock formations in the Burren are limestone and covers around 250 square kilometers.  Very little vegetations grows, but there are many flowers and plants that do grow there that are only found in the Burren region.  It was a little early in the year for us to see any of that. 

We drove for quite some time with no sign of civilization when all of a sudden we came across this cemetary.  I thought it was really pretty, and was happy to see some sign of human existence!!
In the Burren region there are a lot of tiny villages--Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora and Doolin are several of the ones we drove through.  There isn't much to them, a couple of houses and a business or two.  We were told by a local that a lot of the houses in the area were relatively new and that a lot of them were bed and breakfasts.  The population of this area decreased significantly due to the famine but since the 1980's has seen an increase. 

On our way back to Galway we drove by the village of Kinvarra.  The highlight of Kinvarra is Dunguaire Castle.  Open to tours in the summer months, it is considered to be the most photographed castle in Ireland.  Medival banquets are held in the evenings during the summer months as well where guests are treated to a meal, music and literature from the era.  We unfortunately were there a few weeks too early.
On our way back to Galway we made a stop at the Royal Tara china factory--once again no tours due to the fact is was a Saturday, but I got some beautiful pieces as gifts and several Christmas ornaments for myself!


Check out :Royal Tara China and Galway Irish Crystal for some beautiful Irish gifts!

1 comment:

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Stunning photos! What an awesome trip!