Celtic Discovery

Day 3 - March 26, 2004 - The Cliffs of Moher, The Burren

We were up by 7 AM even though the jet lag hit us at 2:00 AM. Wide awake and no sleep. By 4 PM I was sleeping soundly!

Breakfast was quite good with Gennie and I choosing scrambled eggs instead of the more exotic things they offered like black pudding, salmon, etc. Good selection of cheeses and jellies. Coffee is a lot stronger than the US - but the US coffee is just dirty water.

We were all in the 16 passenger van - tight fit - by 9:30 and we were on our way. Some sunshine but cool. Very pleasant for me.

This morning we headed west to experience the 670-foot-high Cliffs of Moher, the highest in Europe, spectacularly situated above crashing ocean surf.

On the way there, DeeDee took the time to explain the history of Ireland from the ancient to the 1800. She covered the prehistory, the Celts, the Vikings who brought the blond hair and fair skin.

In the 12th Century the Normans invaded and introduced the feudal system. Then the British occupation with Henry VIII and the reformation. She spoke of St. Patrick, Ireland never had snakes!

With the potato blight and the famine of the 1840's, we have the immigration of the Irish to all parts of the world. As she talked we passed fields with rock fences. These are of all sort of shapes, sizes and design. Quite spectacular. Makes the New England ones look very minimal.

We arrived at Lahinch, a coastal resort area, where we were shown two golf courses. The one built on the dunes - unbelievably tough course - is a link. The ones with a manicured fairway are called courses.

We saw ruined castles on the fairways, four foot deep undulations throughout all fairways. Just past these course was came to a helipad - right by the ocean - belonging to Mike Shannahan of the Denver Broncos, who has a home here. We had a quick stop at the sacred well of St. Bridget and we were able to walk around an old Celtic cemetery.

The Cliffs of Moher are formed of rock layers that provide nesting sites for tens of thousands of seabirds. If the wind is strong the sea foam and spray flies up and over the cliffs along with the rain, while on clear sunny days fantastic views can be seen from every angle.

Along the cliff top, alpine plants nestle in crevices beside temperate species. Our stop was just a bit over an hour, giving us time to explore the overlooks, take many pictures of the magnificent vistas up and down the coast and out to sea.

The cold wind was blowing in from the sea, so this was a place where most people bundled, wore hats and gloves, and tried to stay out of the wind. Over the centuries, people have also made their mark, with towers, quarries, and well-worn paths, but they're almost lost in the scale and grandeur of the sea cliffs.

One that does stand out is O'Brien's Tower, a huge structure built to house the guests of Cornelius O'Brien, County Clare's legendary Member of Parliament from the 1830s until he died in 1857. Here we had time to admire the views and poke around the visitors' center and gift shop and used the restrooms.

We got back on the bus for 5 minutes and stopped at the top of the bluffs and walked a country lane down to Doolin on the Sea - a 45 minute hike with sights, famine villages, and castle towers on the hill tops.

We had a great lunch at Gus O’Connor’s Pub, one of the 5 most famous pubs in Ireland. Our lunch was a bowl of steaming seafood chowder served with the local brown soda bread. We walked around the town a little bit but many stores were not open as this is the lowest of the tourist seasons.

This is wild and beautiful country that harbors some of Ireland's most striking natural features. After lunch we entered the strange limestone landscape called the Burren, (stony land) white, deeply crevassed limestone conceals "micro-environments" rich in potholes and hollows.

The ample rainfall and strange topography have resulted in a paradoxical profusion of arctic and semi-tropical vegetation growing side by side. Hidden within the scrubs was a huge old stone fort and walled enclosure built around 500 BC.

We stopped to look at the views and hiked into the thicket of brambles and thorns. It was getting much cooler with low clouds but one could still see Galway Bay and for miles around the country side. We made a brief stop at a portal tomb to see a dolman, an ancient burial ground above the rock formations.

Our last stop in the afternoon was Limna Castle, one of the old O’Brien Clan fortresses, a 15th century ruin were we were able to take a few pictures.

Because we were 15 minutes from town, we arranged to take a taxi at 5:30 to go into Ennis to use the internet before dinner. We sent the journal but the PowerPoint file was corrupted so I will send it with today’s the next chance I get.

We met our group for dinner at O’Connor’s Café and had a delightful traditional Irish meal with Bailey’s Cheesecake for dessert. On returning to the hotel we listened to Eddie Lenihan, a local storyteller, who told us of his compilation of oral history, stories, legends and anecdotes from the counties around Ennis.

Fountain Court Hotel

If you wish to travel with OAT Click Here.

To receive $50 per person off your first reservation with OAT, mention the following information when reserving your Overseas Adventure Travel Trip: Mr. Victor Garcia Customer #673062


Post a Comment!

  Featured Journal

Day 13: Azores & Madeira: Portugal's Unspoiled Archipelagos

Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.

The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.

Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...

Continue Reading Day 13