My last night in Galway. Also, the end of my second week of vacation.
Today I was on a tour through the Burren and to the Cliffs of Moher, with the Galway Tour Company. I cannot say enough good things about the tour company. Yesterday, Mike took me into Connemara, and today Gary took me into the Burren. Both drivers acted as guides, and were fun, funny, knowledgable, and friendly. Both days, we stopped at little, out-of-the-way spots that seemed almost like local secrets, as well as hitting the big tourist areas. These drivers went above and beyond to make sure we all had a good time, and they seem to be indicative of the type of people working for Galway Tour Company.
In short, if you want a tour in this area, these are the people you need to talk to. They’re awesome. So, thanks, Gary and Mike!
The Burren is a rocky, mountainous expanse. Now, I said the same thing about Connemara and the Ring of Kerry, but burren means rocky place in Irish, and it’s something of an understatement.
This is the kind of terrain you get in the Burren. Worn, eroded limestone with small patches of soil and greenery threaded through it.
The road twists through the area. This bit is between a small cliff on one side, and fields leading down to larger cliffs above Galway Bay.
The rock pushes through the soil all over the place here. It makes the coastline a little treacherous, but very scenic.
And, of course, the dry stone fences are everywhere - even here.
One of our stops heading into the Burren was Castle Dunguaire. There are castles and tower houses all over the area - they are so frequent that most tours only stop at one, otherwise you'd never get anywhere.
There are also a lot of swans around. These were in the water by Dunguaire Castle.
We also stopped at an earthen ring fort. The walls were about four feet high, and used to be about two feet higher. The interior was maybe a hundred feet across.
In the middle of the ring fort is a whitethorn tree - another Fairy Tree, complete with the offering cloths tied to the branches.
Ring forts were always built on hills, giving a commanding view of the surrounding area. The trees have grown up over the years, but you can still see a goodly distance over the walls.
This is the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a prehistoric burial site. It's also one of the most photographed sites in the Burren, so I figured I'd add my efforts to the mix. Also, it's very cool.
Here's another view of the dolmen. Up until just a few years ago, visitors were allowed to walk right up to the dolmen, but an act of vandalism resulted in the site being roped off, and a guard posted 24/7. Still, you can get pretty close.
There's an old, half-collapsed cathedral in Kilfenora. They've restored part of it, and put a glass roof over another part, where they've placed some old celtic crosses and markers.
We stopped for lunch in the little village of Doolin, a centre for traditional music in Ireland.
And the centre for traditional music in Doolin is Gus O'Connor's Pub, where we had lunch. There was no live session at the time, but there were some very good recordings playing.
Cliffs of Moher was next. The visitor centre is dug right into the hillside, which I thought was kind of cool.
The trail leads about 8 km from O'Brien's Tower to Hag's Head. We started closer to O'Brien's Tower, so that's the way I went.
Here's a shot looking south towards Hag's Head. It's hard to appreciate the scale of the cliffs in the pictures - keep in mind that these were used as the model for the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride.
Here's a shot looking north from O'Brien's Tower.
This is a shot of the length of the cliffs from the top of O'Brien's Tower
Here's a shot of O'Brien's Tower, since I've been talking about. It was completely restored in the 1970s.
And, just because some of my friends have asked for this, and Garry was amenable, here's a picture of me standing on the edge of Galway Bay. See? I really AM in Ireland.
So, that was today. Tomorrow, I get on the bus for about six hours, heading to Derry/Londonderry. I’ve got about one week left in Ireland, and I mean to make the most of it.