The Burren Revisited
I have just returned from a delightful short holiday in Eire
I revisited the Burren – last seen some thirty years ago, when I was working in Eire. It is a magical unique area of Ireland with its own geology, and micro climate, which resembles nowhere else in the British Isles. It lies in County Clare , and although it is some time s since I saw it last, I had always wanted to return and have time to explore
A surreal limestone plateau with unique climatic conditions, allowing unusual alpine plants to grow. This is a harsh, challenging but inspiring landscape with ring forts, medieval churches and early monasteries scattered around
The flora and fauna is wonderful too, and it just has you spell bound as you drive around this magical landscape with the soft light falling on pale grey limestone. Its almost dessert like in its strange beauty.
My God daughter is living in Ireland and together we packed up my car and topped up with her two small wicked ‘Snippets’ or Whippets and headed west to County Clare. The soft rolling green hills of Tipperary gave way to the remarkable grey rocky landscape of the Burren. Our first stop was Kilmacduagh, a magnificent early 7th century monastery with a round tower. Nearby is Lough Bunny! A permanent Lough on the stony limestone plateau, unlike the many Turloughs which are dotted over the Burren which fill up with water and empty just as quickly
On the last night we spent a delightful evening at the Mount Vernon Hotel in New Quay on the north coast of The Burren. The following morning we headed off with the Snippets and walking boots, sticks and cameras. Exploring all over this immense and inspiring landscape, we came across so many ancient churches and monasteries, examples of early Romanesque Irish Architecture like Corcomroe Abbey with its beautiful early stone carvings. And then on to the Burren perfumery, situated right in the middle of the National Park. In the past they used the flowers found in
the surrounding area to make their perfumes which I remember buying in green glass bottles with a straw basket
round them. They are still making perfumes and aftershaves today and we sell their Man of Arran Aftershave
Next day was spent taking a walk along one of the Famine Roads which are a poignant reminder of the Potato Famine in Ireland, which depopulated the country by a staggering …… percent.. Exploring deeper into the Burren we passed Burial Chambers and slab tombs, before ending our final leg of the journey at Doolin Village opposite the Arran Islands, where we
did a little shopping, in the end buying a fine jersey from Donegal but not from Arran! We drove slowly south along the stunning high cliffs of the cliffs of Moher. We ended our trip at Limerick, arriving in the dark and stopping for the most
unexpectedly delicious meal in the Devlin bar.
My last evening was spent trying to avoid all the ghastly b and b’s touting for business all the way from Waterford, now without its glass works to Rosslare. By sheer luck, intuition and leaving everything to the last minute, I came upon Killiane
Castle b and b. Kathleen, the owner was very welcoming and in a jovial mood. Whilst getting my very early breakfast the
following morning, as I had forgotten that the clocks had gone back, so got up an hour early, Kathleen explained the reason for good humour, was that the Wexford Opera festival was on and that most of her residents were loyal customers who had been coming for years. She pointed to one empty table and said that “this couple have been coming for twenty five years, and this table by the window for twelve and these two…..then hesitating she said ‘ Well they have been coming
I left Eire on that note!
After so long since my last visit it was a joy to return to the area. And my last night at the Killiane Castle with Katheleen and her long standing opera guests, who kindly allowed one single traveller to join them, made it all very special.