IRELAND – DAY 8 – THE BURREN AND GALWAY
Another dreary day, but still top down. I am off this morning to The Burren. This is the name of a plateau the covers most of northwest County Clare. This is one giant pile of rocks, left behind after the glaciers receded in the last ice age. The higher elevations are mostly barren boulder fields, the topsoil having washed down into the valleys over the millennia. Despite this rather bleak landscape, the area is rich in flora and fauna, not to mention a number of caves and archeological sites.
Since the morning was mostly mist and fog, I decided to do something that would not be affected by the weather, take a cave tour. The Aillwee Cave complex was formed millions of years ago, carved by an underground river, but not discovered until the 1970’s. Our tour guide and her husband were some of the first explorers. Some of you may know that my claustrophobia rivals my vertigo, so this was a brave choice for me. An interesting tour and only tight in a few spaces. Some modest stalagtite and stalagmite formations, but considering that they take 1000 years to grow one inch, it is understandable that they were modest. Anyway, survived the tour with no panic attack.
Not far down the road is the Poulnabrone Dolman, a wonderful example of a portal tomb, dating from about 2500BC. It’s amazing this stuff is still standing, considering the potential for both natural and human destruction. There was no avoiding the wind and rain here, but the photos, I think, were worth it.
SOME OF THE INTERESTING FEATURES CARVED INTO THE LIMESTONE BY WATER AND ERROSION
After a short circle tour of the Burren, and with little hope of avoiding the rain, I headed for Galway, Ireland’s second largest, and fastest growing city. Thankfully most of the growth is on the outskirts and the city center still retains a quite a bit of old world charm. This is a very Irish area and unlike other parts of the country, in many cases the signs around Galway are ONLY in Irish. Makes navigating a bit dicey.
After unpacking at my convenient B&B I set of for a walk through the old town, and particularly the lively Shop Street. As you would expect, Shop Street is a pedestrian area full of well, shops. Also lots and lots of bars. It is said that in Ireland, one out of every three businesses is a bar! I can believe it. I managed to find a few with live music. Hopefully I can get my video clips to upload. Still having lots of GoPro problems and am about ready to chuck that piece of junk into the sea.
MILES AND MILES OF STACKED STONE WALLS, HUNDREDS, MAYBE THOUSANDS OF MILES. WHAT AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF WORK THIS MUST HAVE BEEN JUST TO KEEP A FEW SHEEP IN.
OF COURSE, THE CASTLES WERE ALL MADE OF STACKED STONE TOO
SHOP STREET IN GALWAY
A COUPLE OF GALWAY “CHARACTERS”
SOME OF THE MUSIC MAKERS.
Here’s my route for Day 8: https://tinyurl.com/y9wo7gd6
IRELAND – DAY 9 – THE CONNEMARA COAST
North and west of Galway, a 250km loop takes one through some scenic valleys and passes similar to Scotland and a very scenic stretch of coastline. Again, mixed weather, with sunny spells interspersed with drizzle. Top down, as usual. With the half tonneau cover over the passenger’s seat, I actually stay quite dry and warm, even in a steady rain, as long as I keep moving!
The first half of the route took me inland past the Connemara Marble Visitors Center. The marble from around here is called Irish Jade for it’s similarity to the pale green jade of China, due to it’s high copper content. They sell lots of jewelry there, but unfortunately, it was not open yet (sorry girls).
After passing huge Lough (lake) Corrib, I drove north through the Maam Valley, blanket bogs framed by the Maumturk Mountains. Great scenery, even though it was a bit misty. Then a U turn around a couple more lakes and back south through the Inagh Valley, more great scenery.
From there I turned west and hit the Atlantic, carrying on south and east to Derrigimlach Bog, which is famous for two things, both commemorated here. Firstly it is the site of the world’s first transatlantic radio station, established by none other than Guglielmo Marconi himself. Little remains of the concrete hut he used, but a bit further on is the site where, in 1915, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in a Vickers Vimy bomber. The unceremoniously crashed the plane in the bog!
Most of the rest of the trip was dodging around bogs, hugh rock fields and around pretty, sandy beaches before approaching Galway again. The last thirty miles or so is great beach, and it is obvious that a lot of wealthy Irish have vacation homes along this Golden Stretch.
Here’s today’s route: https://tinyurl.com/y9mcr2fk
Back in Galway, I thought I might go out for some more music, but needing to make an early escape tomorrow for my half day in Dublin, I thought better of it and settled for a nearby pub.
THESE SHEEP WERE OBVIOUSLY BEING BRED TO MAKE SOME SHEEPSKIN SEAT COVERS FOR MY CAR! HOW THOUGHTFUL.
ABOVE IS THE MONUMENT AND PLAQUE TO THE AVIATORS. OPEN IN A NEW TAB TO READ IT.
THEY USE HUGE ROCKS FOR THE WALLS HERE, NOT LIKE IN ENGLAND
FOOD NEWS: LOBSTER, CRAB MEAT AND CRAB CLAWS, SEAFOOD IS CHEAP IN IRELAND, ABOUT THE ONLY THING THAT IS.
Tomorrow it’s off the Dublin!