Enroute to Doolin, The Burren

Picture posting has been screwing up my blogs so I will be placing them at the bottom of the post. Sorry bout that.

We headed north out of Killarney, across the Shannon River by ferry, toward Doolin, our next resting place. We toured through the Burren on the way, an amazingly diverse area; it ranges from solid limestone rock to farmland, they even have 27 varieties of native orchid growing, in many places, in the crevasses between solid rock.

Just before getting to the more desolate area of the Burren we stopped at the Dysert O’Dea Castle. Its a typical square stronghold that was built between 1470 and 1490 by Diarmuid O’Dea. Although much of the battlements and stairs were knocked down by the Cromwellians, enough of the castle remained to enable its restoration by the local development association. There are many historical sites in the immediate area including an 11th century round tower, an abbey and St. Tola’s High Cross.

One of the significant local events was the battle of Dysert O’Dea in 1318. A Norman, Richard DeClare, attempted to conquer the area. He met a body of O’Dea’s troops at a ford near the stronghold. When they retreated DeClare rushed forward and was ambushed and killed; it is said he was felled by the axe of Conor O’Dea himself. Many other influential English Knights were killed in the battle and the area remained free of English domination for another 200 years.

We drove northwest to Kilfenora and visited the 12th century Cathedral there, part of which is still used for worship services. In the roofless chancel there stands the Doorty Cross, a 12th century High Cross that is lavishly decorated and remarkably well preserved.

We travelled north to Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen which is one of the best known dolmen in Ireland and is only one of two portal dolmen in the country. Carbon dating indicates that the site dates from 2500 BC and was used as a burial site. We spoke to a parks fellow that was on site who told us that the the capstone on the dolmen weighs five tons. Makes you wonder exactly how they got it up there over 3500 years ago. There were remains of 23-29 people in the dolmen as well as many other artifacts. Archeologists determined that most died before 30 with the oldest around 40; reminds you of how far we have come over the ages.

This area shows great examples of the karst limestone that covers much of the Burren; most of the soil overburden was removed by the glaciers of the last ice age.

We moved on to Doolin where we are staying at Nellie Dee’s B&B; more on that tomorrow. We ate supper at McGann’s pub (definately try the seafood, the mussels were great) and stayed for the trad (traditional) music. You had better enjoy the company of lots of people if you decide to do this. Doolin has become the mecca of trad music in Ireland and the three pubs overflow after 8:30 pm because the music starts at 9:00 or 9:30. It was a great time with fiddle, guitar and drum playing. Mom decided she was done so we took her back to the B&B. Bonnie and I went to McDermmot’s pub and closed the place with a stag party that was going on. Stag parties are bachelor parties in Ireland, but they apparently last days and are very raucous; we got involved in a singsong (singalong) with them. The music at McDermmot’s is also great, a mix of trad and contemporary tonight. More tomorrow.

Slainte, Pat

The ferry across the Shannon.  Two ferries run, takes about 20 minutes.

The ferry across the Shannon. Two ferries run, takes about 20 minutes.

One of the narrow roads.  It has small pullouts so you can let another by.

One of the narrow roads. It has small pullouts so you can let another by.

O'Dea Castle

O'Dea Castle

The great room in O'Dea Castle

The great room in O'Dea Castle

Cathedral at Kilfenora.  You can see the gable end of the part still in use.

Cathedral at Kilfenora. You can see the gable end of the part still in use.

The Doorty Cross.  They erected a clear cover to protect the crosses.

The Doorty Cross. They erected a clear cover to protect the crosses.

The Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen.  The capstone weighs 5 ton.

The Poulnabrone Portal Dolmen. The capstone weighs 5 ton.

Karst limestone of the Burren.  It could be called the Barren in these areas.

Karst limestone of the Burren. It could be called the Barren in these areas.

Near another wedge tomb.  Stone commemorates Paddy Nolan who discovered a collar of gold while digging in his garden.  It now resides in the National Museum.

Near another wedge tomb. Stone commemorates Paddy Nolan who discovered a collar of gold while digging in his garden. It now resides in the National Museum.

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