It rained all night but the morning broke bright and sunny – for a while at least. We had a hearty breakfast at our B&B and then set off to explore The Burren, Ireland’s mid-west coast rocky mountain region. The landscape here is very strange – almost lunar for lack of better description- extremely rocky and sculpted by ancient glaciers. Rock farming/property walls built hundreds of years ago criss-cross the hills in every direction. Limestone is the main ingredient here and although there isn’t much top soil, what little grass does grow is rich and replenishes quickly, making for good cattle raising.
Our first stop was at the 6000 year old Poulnabrone burial tomb where 33 bodies have been excavated. The slabs of rock that cover the tomb weigh many tons, leaving us to wonder how ancient people erected the structure. Next we stopped for a shot of the Leamaneh Castle ruins (unique design for Ireland with the stone window grids built into the design) and then continued on to the village of Kilfenora to see the 11th century cathedral ruins and some of the oldest high crosses in Ireland. Also, we couldn’t resist stepping into the modern day catholic church beside the ruins to see the stained glass windows.
Next we drove up into the high grounds to see another burial tomb, this one a wedge design. A short stroll beyond this tomb and we came to a 360 degree vista of the burren. Absolutely incredible to see the glacier-sculpted mountain tops that look like giant cow patties with diminishing circles going up the slopes (see the photos as this description really doesn’t do it much justice).
Carrying on, we came to the very beautiful Corcomroe Abbey ruins and then to the Burren perfumery where the employees make scented perfume and soaps from the naturally growing alpine flowers. Really nice!
Time to leave The Burren and head north to Galway. En route we passed by Dunguaire Castle which is the most photographed castle in Ireland. Unfortunately, it was closed today (possibly for the season??) but we got the iconic photo anyway. It was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay.
Then into Galway to find our B&B (Inishmore House) in the west end. If not for the gps in Mon’s cell phone, we would never have arrived. The proprietor (Marie) is really down to earth and accommodating and gave us a walking map for downtown Galway. Best surprise was the stained glass window in our room!!! (Happy face). We settled in, did a bit of blog prep work and then headed downtown. The central city core is pedestrians only which made for excellent strolling and photo taking. We also had time to discovery of a couple of cathedrals with gorgeous stained glass windows. For dinner, we chose the Dail Bar restaurant. Great food, great atmosphere, great city. Tomorrow we head north to discover more wonders of Ireland.