My OE - Ireland                                           
MAY 2003
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includes...
The Burren (Day 1)
The Burren (Day 2)
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Cat Laugh's Comedy Festival Weekend

Sat 17-May 03	Ennis - Lisdoonvarna (Co. Clare) (continued...)

Headed from Doolin, through Lisdoonvarna and Kilfenora (OK, where we asked directions) before heading through the Burren towards Ballyvaughan.  The Burren is an unusual rocky limestone region in Northern County Clare / Southern County Galway with relatively little soil and is in parts reminiscent of the moon!  It is also scattered with large numbers of ancient monuments.

At first we were not too impressed after what we'd read, pictures we'd seen etc - yes, it was rocky but not overly so.  However the further we drove the rockier and stranger the landscape became, until yes, it did look like a lunar landscape!   Saw Poulawack Cairn, Poulnabrone Dolmen and Cahermore Stone Fort (website)

The Burren, Co. Clare

Poulawack Cairn, The Burren, Co. Clare

Jason in the Burren
(near Poulawack Cairn)

Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Burren 

Valley behind Poulnabrone Dolmen 

Cahermore Stone Fort Archway 

Ballyvaughan 

It then started to rain again but headed round Black Head (most North Western corner of the Burren and County Clare) anyway.  Amazing rocky scenery of the Burren meeting the sea and we could also see the Aran Islands in the distance.  Returned to Lisdoonvarna to stop for the night.  Listened to some traditional Irish Music in the Hotel Bar after dinner.

Black Head 

Black Head  

"Baby Little-Horses" at Black Head

The Matchmaker Bar at Lisdoonvarna of course!
(Lisdoonvarna is the Matchmaking capital of Ireland, with a month long festival every September) 

Sun 18-May 03	Lisdoonvarna (Co. Clare) - Swords 

Raining again!  Decided to head back into the Burren (via a different way than yesterday of course - even prettier) to have a look at the Aillwee Caves.  The cave was OK - and that's about it, nothing too wonderful, although I think it was the first cave waterfall we've seen.  The gift shop held our interest for longer, and also took more of our money!  The weather had fined up a little while we were in there.

The plan now was to head south towards Bunratty to go to the Bunratty Castle and Folk park, but after I saw a photo of the Burren taken near the town of Boston (looked even more ridiculously rocky) we decided to take a detour that way first.  Although we made a wrong turn or two, we did eventually go the right way and ended up covering most of the roads in and out of the Burren.  It certainly got rockier and rockier and looked like the moon (not that we've been there).  There were fenced off area that were obviously built by farmers with amazing optimism - What they planned to fence in I'm not sure but there was almost no soil or grass at all; just a stone wall around a 'paddock' of solid stone.  If it had been a bit smoother you could almost think it was a concreted building site!  Very unusual and alien feeling.

On towards Bunratty.

Valley below Aillwee Caves, The Burren 

Black Head Bay, Ballyvaughan 

Burren (the village) - I think! 

Dunguaire Castle, Co. Galway
(encountered while we were temporarily lost)

The Burren, Near Boston
(note the stone walls! To protect what from what?)

... and again 

At Bunratty we visited Bunratty Castle and Folk park, which consists of a castle and a folk park (surprise surprise)!!  The folk park is an interesting reconstructed Irish village with a weavers, black smith etc - The type of set-up that could quite easily have been very tacky but this wasn't.  Spent some more monies on local crafts etc as souvenirs, including a print of the following:

A LIMERICK FROM LIMERICK

In Limerick a pretty young lass
Had a truly magnificent ass
Not round and pink
As you probably think
It was grey, had long ears and ate grass

Finally headed home (to Swords that is), via Limerick.

 

Bunratty Castle, Bunratty, Co. Clare 

Loop Head Farmstead, Bunratty Folk Park 

The Village, Bunratty Folk Park 

King John's Castle, King John's Island, Limerick City 

Fri 30-May 03	Swords - New Ross (Co. Wexford)  

Picked up another rental car and headed south toward Kilkenny town for the Murphy's Cat Laughs Comedy Festival.  A ridiculously hot sticky day for Ireland and the car didn't have AirCon &$%"^£%*$&".  Lovely green scenery on the way - Back in March when we did a lot of travelling it was very green even though most trees had no leaves, now things are extremely green!  Once in Kilkenny headed straight back out again to visit Dunmore Cave.  Our third caves in Ireland, and again nothing too much to rave about.  Mitchelstown caves were definitely the best / most colourful.

Went to our first show at 8:00pm - The Host Deidre O'Kane was quite funny.  The three actual acts were an odd bunch.  First on was David Feldman (American) who was OK but not hilarious.  Next was Lewis Black, another American, who was downright angry about everything - Very unusual guy (kind of middle-aged serial killer strange) but funny.  Last up was Adam Hills, who although Australian was actually the best and very funny.

Next show was the one we had come here for - Bill Bailey ('Manny' from the BBC4 comedy Black Books).  He was absolutely hilarious! We've never laughed so hard – it hurt! He is an amazing entertainer, doesn’t even really need to say anything to have people in fits of laughter. Strange facial expressions, mental out of control hair (apparently not a good look in international airports!) and a very talented and funny musician. After telling us about the Americans spending more on Porn than international aid, said he’s start to do his part to help and launched into Song – “I won’t look at titties for a year”. Two encores (standing ovations really).  (Oh, and the host Karl Spain from Limerick was quite good too; supporting act OK at times).

Drove to New Ross (Co. Wexford) to stay at MacMurrough Farm Hostel .

Sat 31-May 03	New Ross - Swords

Headed back from New Ross to Kilkenny in the morning and did a tour of Kilkenny Castle.  A reasonable tour - castle decorated with quite ornate Victorian period furnishings.  Went to one more 'Cat Laughs' event before heading home (Jason had to work tomorrow) - 'Kitty Flicks' (very) short films.  Most where just plain weird as opposed to funny and more often than not we couldn't even understand what they were saying, especially on the Irish ones.  A couple of Wallace and Grommet ones were OK, but the one real funny one was an American spoof of Pearl Harbour and Armageddon.  Quite professionally done compared to the rest.

Headed back to County Dublin and ended up having Indian takeaways on the coast at Portmarnock.  Then went for a bit of a drive (and maybe even got a little lost) around Howth, Bull Island etc - Even saw a row of Palm trees - in Ireland!!  (Returned rental car in the morning - 1st June)

When we first arrived in the country (in February) it was completely dark by about 5:30pm - Now it doesn't get dark till between 10:30 and 11:00pm.  The sun then rises again about 4am - broad daylight by 5am.  Definitely takes some getting used to (well we haven't!).

 

River Nore, near Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny 

Jason at Kilkenny Castle 

Portmarnock, Co. Dublin 


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