Friday, August 25, 2006

The Emerald Isle p. 2

Baby boars!

Makes sense...

Quin Abbey

Cliffs of Moher

Ancient stone fort up on the Burren

Heather with a donkey friend.

Right, well Heather and I spent Monday to Thursday roadtripping around rural county Clare - not the sort of thing I would have picked myself, being an unreconstructed city girl, but very pleasant as it happened.
We were staying in a nice, quiet B&B for the first two nights, on the edge of 'The Burren' - a spacey rocky hilly area which may look dead but, as we found out on a very informative walk, is actually full of rare plants and the like: We had an hilarious and very knowledgeable Irish farmer as our guide on our four hour walk up Blackhead Mountain. What an accent! I thought he was describing some exotic species of burren-only plant when he was talking about 'ellum', until he said, 'like Dutch Ellum Disease'. He also had some great stories, like the time an American woman called to ask him to look for her memory card up on the mountain (like asking someone to look for it amongst the scoria on Tongariro or Ngarahoe - whichever has the scoria) 'Oh, I had great fun with her. Asking "how big is it?" and "what colour is it" then I said "you're fecking mad, woman!" - I don't think she was expecting that.' Ha ha. Most of my clothes were at the launderette (getting cleaned for the princely sum of 11 euro) and I had no suitable duds for climbing up a mountain anyway so I was woefully attired and luckily he lent me a jacket because it was very cold and windy and sometimes rainy up there... Lesson learned? Not likely.
That was about it for Tuesday, Wednesday we had a busy day, driving out to Poulnabrone Dolmen, a Neolithic tomb, then to the Cliffs of Moher where the weather was again shite (as the Irish would say - I myself would never use such a filthy word) but you could see the cliffs a bit, which were very pretty, then to the town of Ennis, where we wandered around a ruined friary and had some lunch, then we took in Quin Abbey (likewise ruined, and quite a spooky place), then to a castle whose name I have already forgotten but I'm sure Heather knows, as it was built by one of her illustrious ancestors. On the way to Quin, we took one of the back roads, which was barely wide enough for one car and actually had grass growing down the middle of it - very glad we didn't meet anyone coming the other way! As it was, most of the reasonably main roads were a tight squeeze for two cars, and there were plenty of occasions where we had to duck into a driveway or practically dive into the hedge to avoid trucks and buses coming in the other direction. Finally we wound up in Sixmilebridge, where our hostel was, for some dinner in the hostel kitchen and a few cold ciders down at the pub.
On Thursday morning we went out to Craggaunowen, which is like a reconstruction of a Bronze age settlement, based around an old castle (a tiny old castle, I should say) which was quite interesting. My favourite part was the 'wild boar compound' which featured two big boars and some very sweet little baby boars (boarlets?) which scampered about the compound with reckless abandon. Then it was off to Shannon airport, quite a bit of waiting around, and finally back to London and dinner with my sister.

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