Cliffs of Moher and The Burren
We went on Barrett Tours today over to the Cliffs of Moher. I highly suggest going through their company for tours, they were really great! Picked us right up on campus, gave a great tour, had a cool tour guide named Frank, and all for a very reasonable price. We made multiple stops on the way, so it was a full day of sightseeing: 9:15 am to 6 pm. The good thing about going on tours instead of just going to certain attractions on your own is that you get facts and stories behind the sights along with your ride from the tour guide. Frank, our tour guide, was a pretty cool guy and had some pretty good jokes. “What’s the difference between outlaws and in-laws? Outlaws are wanted.” And that was only one of them. We found out that Limerick has a population of 80,000 people; so about twice the size of Wausau. There were two older women sitting next to us from Illinois. Holy man could they talk; one insisted on telling us all the details of her life; her world travels, showing us pictures of her grandkids, she just got divorced...I could probably write a biography on this woman. And the fact that we were sitting next to them made it obligatory for them to make conversation with us the entire ride.
We spent a lot of time driving through The Burren. It’s a span of land where there is an extremely large amount of limestone right beneath the top soil. The Burren is a national park so they had rules about not interfering with nature and not taking any natural souvenirs. The motto for this national park was pretty cool: “Leave nothing behind but your footprints and take nothing away but your memories.” In some parts it’s karsk/karst which means lunar landscape. The hills were covered in rocks; our own version of 50 shades of gray. Driving through Ireland we saw so many sheep and cows; farming is huge and they graze their livestock. The limestone beneath the topsoil makes it difficult to plant fields. Frank told us that the population of Ireland is 4.5 million people yet there are 4.8 million sheep.
The first stop we made was at the Leamenagh Castle. Oddly enough it was on private property so we couldn’t go inside; we took our pictures in front of it though. The land is privately owned, but because it’s part of Ireland’s history the government controls the actual castle. That is why the land owner can’t do anything to it yet the government can’t make it a tourist attraction because of the private land surrounding it. They are kind of in a stalemate. Next we drove through a small town called Cora Finne. It instantly reminded me of Cora of course. Cora Finne is a small town known for fishing. They mostly fish salmon and walleye. Next we stopped at the Caherconnel Stone Fort for a coffee and small snack. We had coffee and Swiss cake along with a great view. We drove to the Poulnabrone Tomb, known as the Hole of Sorrows. It’s an ancient burial ground with archeological digs from as far back as 3800BC.
Lunch on Galway Bay was delicious! We stopped at a restaurant called Monk’s pub that is famous for its seafood. Fish & chips and crab claws were our selections; even though I’m not a huge seafood person it was pretty good. I definitely want to go back though; they say they’re known for their seafood chowder and I want to find out if it compares to the whitefish chowder we have at the Cookery. After lunch we go to the Cliffs of Moher. The coastline is absolutely gorgeous; inching closer to the cliff’s edge is quite scary because they’re 700 feet high and 5 miles long. There is a stone fence that separates the walkway from the edge but most people jump over the fence to get better pictures. And of course we jumped over that fence too. Frank told us to be careful; the cliffs are always being eroded away because they’re made of sandstone and the elements eat away at them. Because of this people walking along the edge are at risk of the ledge crumbling beneath their feet. But we were careful so don't worry. Being right on the coast meant the wind was really strong. Frank told us that we had lucked out on weather; it was semi cloudy, with the sun peeking through in random spurts. Every once in a while there would be a misting on rain but for the most part we had a fair weather day. Frank said that multiple other groups were sadly disappointed when they got to the cliffs because it was so foggy or rainy you would hardly see anything, much less take good pictures. It seems we have been lucking out quite a lot on weather lately; hopefully that luck won’t be running out any time soon.
On our trip we learned about certain things around in the small towns in Ireland. There’s a matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna where farmers go to find wives after the harvest is done in September. We were the only young people on the bus so the bus driver was joking around about dropping us at the town. We drove past Doolin, the music capital of Ireland. There are a bunch of festivals that go on there and musicians worldwide come to play there. We also saw a statue to St. Bridget a Patron Saint of Ireland. It obviously made me think of Brigette right away. Driving along the coast, we could see the Aran Islands in the distance; they're known for their Aran wool garments that are semi water proof and very warm. I'm thinking all of my sisters names and mine have Irish roots considering they were all mentioned on this tour: Cora Finne the town, St. Bridget, and Aran Islands. Some are spelled different, but pronounced the same...kind of interesting.
Frank told us about some famous people from Ireland too. We already heard about Richard Harris, the first Dumbledore. He told us about John P. Holland also. Born in 1841, he was the inventor of the submarine and sold the first one to the US marines. He died in 1914, right before WWI, so he never actually got to see his invention in action. In one of Molly’s biology classes, she learned about all the top crops of Ireland. I’d heard of the Potato Famine so I was surprised to hear that potatoes weren’t in the top list of exported or produced crops. Frank told us that from 1845-1852 there was a disease that made all of the potatoes rot in the ground before they were harvested. In that time 1 million people died of starvation and millions more emigrated to other countries, namely the USA. On our way back from the Cliffs of Moher we stopped at a monument in honor of those that died in the famine.
For sitting on a bus all day and not doing much physical activity, we were extremely tired at the end. We decided to have a quiet night at home, watching TV and journaling. We ordered Chinese delivery; chicken curry, rice, and naan bread…delicious!