Monday, July 13, 2015

Ireland: Ennis, Cliffs of Moher, and the Burren

We left Dingle to head for the Cliffs of Moher, but on the way stopped for lunch in Ennis and saw the Friary there.
Constructed in 1242, the church is partially in ruins, but houses some beautiful carvings that depict scenes from the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

I found these beautiful sculptures in the garden as well. And then we had lunch at a sandwich place called O'Brien's.  It is a chain, similar to Panera kinda.

Then on to the Cliffs of Moher! 
These are the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride movie. If you are wondering why everyone is squinting or covering their eyes in this photo it is because it was VERY windy up there. The path is dirt, which meant that dust was flying into our faces whenever we were facing into the wind. So, our children were walking along a cliff edge, in the wind, with their eyes closed.  No bueno. Thankfully, there was a low wall that we could keep the kids behind most of the walk, and we just brought them closer to the edge for photos and views a few times, and as you can see, we held onto them tightly.

It is fantastically beautiful there though.

We walked out along this side to about the third point you can see and then decided to turn back toward the car to continue on our way.

Along with the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We drove through and watched the scenery become more and more barren until it was almost all rocks, like this. There is a geological explanation for this, but it is beyond me to explain it.  The kids loved running around this natural maze on the ground.

We also took time to admire the Poulnabrone portal tomb located here in the Burren. It dates from the Neolithic period between 4000 and 3000 BC. This would have been a tough landscape to make a living in, for sure.

Then we finally arrived at one of our most unique lodgings- the CrannOg EcoFarm. I am our travel agent, and I do try to keep it interesting and look for different types of accommodations.  And this one was definitely different! We had a sort of cabin to ourselves and it was clean and cosy. The bathrooms were in the adjacent building and had composting toilets and solar heated showers which were shared with the other people living at and/or camping on the farm grounds.  The gardens, ponds, and grounds were really well cared for and it was quite educational for all of us actually.  There is a part of me that just LOVES places like this, though I confess we went to McDonald's for breakfast the next morning and all enjoyed flushing the toilets there!

That day was our only completely rainy day in Ireland.  We had originally planned to take a ferry to the island of Inishmoor and explore for the day.  But with the rain, and knowing that we would be out in it all day, we cancelled that plan and found a mall in Galway where we restocked our snack supply and took the kids to an indoor bounce house type place.  It was a welcome change of pace at the halfway point of our trip.

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