Monday, May 20, 2013

Tuesday, May 14th

                Woke up early and went for a jog this morning. First time running since the marathon, and have been too petrified of the narrow roads and tight corners to run here. oh, and I am supposed to be seriously detraining…’s pretty here!
Kept right elbow to the curb the whole time (had to remind self almost the whole time too) as I want to FACE traffic, and here it is driving on the LEFT side. I hardly remember to look the right way when crossing the street, so it’s good it was all quiet country roads. Headed past the old tower, and swung out towards the cliffs of Moher. Did not actually run along them, but followed the steady grade as the road rose above the sea and I could look down the pastures that went to the edge, and see the ruined buildings made of large stone next to the road. There were lovely charming houses, and painted ponies too, but it was the broken down houses of old, with the overgrown tangle of thorns and shrubs around them that caught my interest. Almost as much as the way the Atlantic looked, almost calm in the morning reflecting small pieces of blue sky. The run was short, but wonderful.

The Burren
From what I can tell this is an area of land that is called The Burren (pronounced “burn”).  It has ruins of castles and towers everywhere, and the land in between these places of interest is wild, and windswept, and full of  Irelands flora and fauna. Everything echoes of ancient times, from the rocks that show traces of water paths, and old life forms that are trapped there. These rocks, whether small and gravel like, or large and creating paths with cut crevices from gradual rain, were once covered with dirt and housed all kinds of trees. It is hard to picture to this very open landscape being sheltered by trees of any kind.

  The Burren Cathedral in Kilfenora.
This church actually had  a fair amount of  of the structure still standing. Most times you see a church or a fort or a castle on the map it has about 2.5 walls, and is placed away from the road with a seriously un-scalable walls, and thick locked doors. Humph . where is the spirit of adventure in THAT?
This one had the celtic crosses in the graveyard around it, some old and many newer. There was an active/usable church attached to the old one. We wandered in and ducked into the narrow doorway to see the other parts of the church. Since we didn’t pay for a tour or anything I can’t say much about the history and structure. I believe 1500s but I really could be wrong.
The interesting part of this church was the protective glass roof they have over the building to preserve it. 
      The Ballyganner Castle (see the bit above about unattainability). But hey, we stopped, we saw!

Poulnabrone Portal tomb
     An ancient burial site. And ancient everything site. They had little informative signs which were rather nice to read about the surrounding area. The tomb buried bodies from the stone age, which they believed were put somewhere else to decompose before being put there since they found over 30 I think. There was also a baby from the bronze age (think Roman times) which is interesting. So, this site was a big deal…not a hyped up tourist attraction. Plus, we enjoyed looking at the little flowers that grew along the limestone rocks that were the predominant ground coverage in the area.

Ring Forts/burren cows!
    We peered over the fence for this one. Honestly, I understand why they charge to see these things, but …it wasn’t worth it for the 4 of us to pay to get in and wander around. So we looked to see what we could. Inside the gift shop they did have a little café and sold wedges or a small wheel of cheese made from the cows here. I got the garlic flavored one! Delicious. I love cheese, and cheese related things!
     We did get to watch the farmer lead his cows just a few yards (meters!) down the road to the pasture across the field. All the cows followed, with a dog behind them. He would holler a few things in Gaelic, and they listened (or maybe the dog obeyed not the cows?)…or at least followed him in a somewhat orderly manner.  Rather interesting..and went more smoothly than I thought it would.

This picture is just of one of the stone walls they have that make the fences. There are short ones, tall ones, seriously professional ones. clean and open stone walls, and many that are fortified/surrounded by growth and thorns and such. I just think all the stacking and such is impressive and seriously exhausting to consider doing in such an extensive amount!

Back to the same B&B as before. The only place we stayed two nights, because of location and all the driving. *grumble grumble* very quiet town, we drove down to McDermits (just a few minutes away and less than a mile down the road…but drove because of that no light thing. The whole walking thing is lost in those moments when there is no side part of the road to step on when a car comes).
At McDermits we had a wonderful waitress that we really enjoyed. She joked with us and we learned of the differences in the beer. Because it is, overall, SO MUCH BETTER than in the U.S. she said the Guinness used to be said it does not travel well…when really, the U.S. has its own now and it uses the same ingredients. So is it the water (and the fluoride levels) that are different? Ugh. She said they have their own Coors light and Budweiser breweries over here, and it tastes better. When she had a Coors over in the U.S. and took a sip, she thought something had gone wrong or the beer had been spoiled. That much of a difference! I havn’t tried it here, I would rather get something completely unavailable.
   A pair of musicians began playing, a flute player and a guitarist who also sang. It was rather nice and upbeat. Next we went down the road to McDools. This place was also great and very crowded (where did everyone come from?!)  They take music very seriously in this area, so  everyone was pretty quiet listening. The music was great! They had a type of bagpipe that the musician played every now and again, this gave the songs an extra bit of spirit to listen to that we all really liked J

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