Day 2: Friday 16 May 2014 (part 1)
We were up early to a glorious, bright day, and shortly after had a call that our luggage was enroute from Shannon by courier (yay, Aer Lingus!). We wandered down O’Connell Street out in front of the Poet’s Corner. A few doors down we found the local Dunnes Stores, a kind of Department Store/Grocery combination. Grabbed some local rhubarb (!) and raspberry yogurt in little glass pots, some fruit scones, butter, oj, milk, bananas and other breakfast items for an in-room picnic breakfast. Made a couple of cups of tea with the supplied electric kettle and chowed down.
The day’s plan called for see-what-we-see drive into the Burren and visit afterward to the famed Cliffs of Moher.
Our first target was the Burren Centre at Kilfenora by way of a scenic but winding little road [R476] through Corrofin and past Lakes (Loughs) Atedaun and Inchiquin. My first taste of a fast Irish road a little bit too narrow to be comfortable with oncoming cars. Branches of the hedges over stone walls on the left whipped at the outside mirror occasionally as I overcompensated to that side. Poor K.
The Burren is a large area of this part of Clare that extends nearly to the cliffs on the Atlantic Coast. A dramatic looking region of limestone karst with its own unique ecosystem.
I expected the Burren Centre to be a museum or visitor’s center with exhibits about the region, but all we saw was giftshop and tea room, and were offered a film not then running; few exhibits. Apparently we missed the Exhibition – I guess I asked the wrong question. But we did come upon a delightful site next door …
… the ruins of St. Fachtna’s/Fachanan’s Church (aka Kilfenora Cathedral, c. 1200). Check out the column capitals above (click pic to get larger version). Kilfenora is perhaps most famous for its stone crosses – we saw at least parts of 3 here. Our first exploration of a stone structure older than Castillo de San Marcos (c. 1670) at St. Augustine, FL, it was a humbling spot, even though a small ruin by the standard set by others we saw later in Ireland.
We walked around the village a little bit, following the start of one of the many walking trails into the Burren. We didn’t go far, but did meet these cows gathered at the road.
And this guy across the street. He was roaring and singing. Something about the ladies across the way, I guess. I wasn’t convinced that flimsy gate was going to keep him in. We beat feet back to the car.
I was expecting lots of sheep in Ireland, and we saw a bunch, but I think it was cattle we saw most of. It might explain the excellent beef and dairy we had on the trip.
Taking the same road a little farther north we came to a far more ancient site, a portal tomb or dolmen called Poll na Brón (Poulnabrone) – possibly meaning “hole/hollow of the sorrows” or “hole of the quern (a milling wheel) stones”.