Xavid (kihou) wrote,


So, over the bank holiday weekend we went to western Ireland, flying into Shannon. Aside from my complaints about Gatwick's offensive duty-free section, the flight went smoothly. Shannon is a nice small airport, reminding me of Akron/Canton, and a little like Gibraltar in that it felt empty for its size.

Saturday was the Cliffs of Moher, as made famous by The Princess Bride. They were super-cool to visit. Photography was interesting, as there was a quite pervasive mist that kept coming in and out, but the views were gorgeous and the limestone cliffs were impressive and a bit terrifying, with cool rocks in the water and quite a variety of shapes. The cliffs extend for a ways, and we walked a bit past the visitor center area onto the public path south, which was more braided but still really cool. The visitor center was built under the hill, Hobbiton-style, which was part of a generally successful effort to keep the rural hills feel despite the hoards of tourists. There were also some cool local shops built similarly.

Then, after getting in to Doolin, we decided to be ridiculous, grab some food, and take an evening cruise back to the cliffs for the water view. The seas were a bit rough, and the tour wasn't much of a tour, but the views were amazing and the number of seabirds was quite impressive.

Sunday we did several things related to the Burren, the limestone karst landscape in this part of Ireland. First we went to the beach at Fanore, which had an awesome stream. Sarah had read it was good for fossils, which was true: there were many awesome fossils embedded in gigantic immobile pavement-y stones, and quite a few ones in river pebbles we could collect. I also built a sandcastle on the side of the stream, which I heartily recommend as a way of building sandcastles.

For lunch, we stopped by a "Slow Food Festival", which was small but had some good stuff.

Then we went to Poulnabrone, the iconic portal tomb. The tomb itself was pretty impressive and mystical-looking, but the Burren landscape it was on was amazing, made of natural limestone pavement like at the beach, but covering a larger area and full of chasms and holes carved by rainwater. It looked like the remains of some sort of mystical city, not a natural formation, because of how linear the breaks in pavement were. It was great fun to climb around, and Sarah took ALL the pictures. There were cool wild orchids and snails and all sorts of cool crevice-growing plants. Also loose rock walls, which are something I'm all over for this part of Ireland in general.

We also stopped by Cahermacnaghten, a ruined medieval fort that was later used as a law school, and did some geocaching. It's quite interesting how many different eras of stone buildings you see around this part of Ireland, with stone walls standing in pastures long after rooves are gone.

In the evening, we got dinner at a pub with great boxty (Irish potato pancakes) and also good Irish music.

Monday we went to Doolin Cave, a very muddy cave notable for the largest free-standing stalactite in Europe. It was quite impressive, and it was cool to see the sort of limestone underground-river sort of cave that's a lot different from the sort of caves I've seen in primarily the Virginia-Kentucky general area.

Later we went to a woodsier area of the Burren to see what it was like. We ended up going down the wrong trail and finding an area that was mostly deforested, but it had cool streamlets and wind-dried wood and other such details, and we heard cuckoos.

And then we flew back to London!
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