Weather forecast for Tuesday was partly cloudy and no rain. So while the “no rain” was taken with a grain of salt we decided that we’d better get out there and do some hiking and The Burren it was. The Irish parks website gave a choice of hikes but we first had to find the trail head and headed off with GPS in hand. Found “The Crossroads” and the small car park almost full, decided on the Red color coded hike which would take us up Mount Mullaghmore and around the backside for a nice loop and set off in the brisk air through a slot in the stone wall.
What makes this place different is that we’ve left the lush green cow fields behind and have limestone rocks with tufts of grass instead. An unexpected rainbow is soon replace by a squall of rain which we shelter from and put our faith in the blue skies behind.
The terrain is refreshingly different but very wobbly underfoot, nothing is level and your ankles get a real workout. The path weaves along, not unlike an Irish lane, and up over the ridges until a pile of stone signify the top.
Down the backside, around and back to the car. One more tourist stop for the day – back in 1999 when Rose & I were touring Ireland with my father he asked us to stop by something he wanted to see. It was a Menhir located in County Cork and ever since then it has been fun to search out these stone reminders of times long gone by. The one close to us now is the Poulnabrone Dolmen and sure enough there it was, albeit roped off to the curious tourists, but visible none the less and I read that it has stood the tests of time for around 4000 years.
It’s Wednesday and as Pierce & Helen have arrived we have decided to get out to one of the Aran Islands. It’s a slow start to the day while we try to assess the pending weather but they say there is a 11 am ferry and off we go. Our ferry’s name is “Tranquility” and below you see a sister ship, Rose of Aran, berthed right behind us.
They bob around as their incessant diesels push us through the waters to the closest island, Inisheer or Inis Oirr in Gaelic. Here is short video taken off the stern of the ferry. The two German girls on the left were the only ones to stay out on deck as the rest of us headed inside once the sea water started sloshing about the deck.
Once on the quayside there is an array of offers to help you tour the tiny island. Rent a bicycle, jump in a van, horse drawn carts and the odd tractor with trailer combination. We opt to walk, there are more color coded signs to help navigate the narrow walled streets, and I find myself atop a large mound with scattered tombstones. The surprise is what was initially hidden from view but becomes apparent once the climb is over, the excavated ruins of Caomhan’s Church. Almost diminutive and up until recently hidden from sight by mother nature’s drifting sands.
A shipwreck, another window into the past. It’s steel hull rusted into an artists palette of colors perched on the rocky shore. A quick Google brings up MV Plassy, built in 1941, ran ashore in 1960 and its hull has been repositioned a few times by the same wild Atlantic storms that initially pushed her onto it.
Before Pierce & Helen head back to Ballypickes we drive along the coast and make a tea stop in Ballyvaughan. The little shoppe was cute and I ordered tea & a scone. So did Helen but she was told they had only one scone left and did not expect any more as they were closing for the season!
Friday rolls around and we decide to find out what Doolin Cave is all about. I must admit I had done no research and expected to be dazzled & looked after like a tourist would. A bit to the north is the Aillwee Cave and the Doolin one is a relative newcomer to the scene. Turns out it has a singular attraction, a 23 foot stalactite, deep inside an underground cavern. The short story is that the cavern was discovered by a couple of local spelunker’s but was only accessible via a two hour crawl. Some entrepreneur’s with euros sink a circular well next to the cavern, put in a steel staircase and tunnel into the cavern.
Lets take the back roads up to Ballypickes and we drive by Lough Derg and turn down a little street in adjacent Mountshannon. Brings us out to a little marina and we set up an impromptu picnic to snack and watch the activities on the water.
Pierce & Helen put on a feast as we count down the days to our flight out of Dublin and back to Los Angeles. Plenty around the dinner table and two relatively new faces, to me anyway, are the significant others of two of the daughters.