Ireland Day 2 - The Burrens

Day 2 began with winds and clouds, and that was the nice part of the day.

I had high hopes. Starting with the Cliffs of Moher, we would then set forth on a Burrens walk, visit a Neolithic monument, and check out some of the more famous ruins in the area, maybe even visit Ennis if time permitted. Well, the Cliffs were nice…

We made a beeline for the Cliffs. Well, maybe if the beer were drunk. Straight roads were few and far between when traveling from Kilcolgan and the Cliffs, though the scenery was beautiful, from what I could see of it while keeping my eyes on the roads. Fortunately, there was a turnoff so I could enjoy the beautiful views before battling the winding roads once again:

We arrived at our destination at the beginning of the tourist rush, about 11:00. We paid our $8 visitor fee and parked in a quickly-filling parking lot. In case you really need to go, there are restrooms in the parking lot, with lines significantly smaller than in the visitors center.

The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland premier tourist spots. Four hundred feet below, the Atlantic crashes into the rock, and above, tourists gawk. The picture taking was intense, and I was right in there with them. After a quick trip to the aforementioned visitors center, we headed south along the cliffs. The walk was quite narrow in spots and crammed with people, but we persevered for the fantastic views. Signs suggested not getting too close to the cliffs. Obey them if you want, but there were no guards on the southern part of the walk. Just beware of the swirling winds - they were intense at times.

We then walked north to O'Brien's tower for another view of the Cliffs. It was here I asked one of the guides where the horcrux scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was filmed, and he helpfully pointed me to the right spot. As a bonus, he also told me that the Cliffs of Insanity were also filmed nearby, and right next to where Voldemort hid his horcrux decades later. Inconceivable!

As we concluded our visit, the rains started, and they never stopped for the rest of the day. Seeing as it was lunch time, we made a short drive north to Doolin for a bite to eat. We followed the road through Doolin and went all the way to the coast where the tour boats departed to give a different perspective of the Cliffs. We mainly did this because I didn't know where I was going, but there was a food stand where we purchased lunch and ate in the car, listening to the wind rock the car. Had I turned right at the fork heading to the coast instead of left, there were several better food options that the one we chose. Oh well - next time. And the chips and boiled sausage was neither bad nor expensive.

The weather grew worse, so my Burrens walk plans were dashed. The option I chose instead was a visit to Doolin Cave, a privately-owned cave complex northeast of Doolin. We waited for twenty minutes before our tour, wishing we had eaten at the café than at the food stand - the options at the café looked much better.

Gary the guide led us down the 120 steps into the depths of western Ireland, relating all kinds of facts and amusing anecdotes on the way down (and up), and he made the trip more enjoyable. We were able to view a huge stalactite that dominated the first chamber we entered. Amazing to think how millennia this piece of rock has been growing.

All good things end, so it was back into the rain and onto the curving roads, whizzing by much interesting (and wet) scenery, including some interesting ruins viewed through a sheet of water from my car window:

And paid a visit to Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb used between 5,200 and 5,800 years ago where, in the 1980s, twenty one bodies were found. The land surrounding the marker was rocky and barren, what I had envisioned the Burrens to be. And wet (you know, rain). The family stayed in the car while I braved the blowing rain. Hah! I got to see the second most visited site in the Burrens, and they stayed dry.

Looking for things to do on that rainy day, I thought a visit to The Burren Perfumery would be nice. My wife likes that kind of smelly stuff, so why not? This led to a horrible choice of "roads" that got more narrow by the mile, and I eventually turned around instead of pressing on through the plants that encroached closer and closer onto the road. We found some better roads and made our way to the perfumery where I watched a Burrens nature video while my wife purchased her perfume. And it rained.