|You can't actually see all the people in my photos. They really were there, really.|
From beautiful, relaxing, tranquil Dingle, we drove straight into what seemed like a Florida beach during Spring Break. There were more people just on the Cliffs of Moher (pronounced like the word "more") walkway than we saw for our first seven days in country. Sure, the Cliffs were neat and all, but for us, this became a get in/get out situation. After so many days of having Ring Forts and Stone Circles and Beehive Huts and Cliff Walks all to ourselves, being around the crowds overloaded our senses, and when just stopping to try to enjoy the view meant knocking elbows with someone, we quickly decided to head out. There is a trail to the south, off the official pathway and through a hole cut in the barbed wire fence, but we decided to skip it. Off the north end of the path is a stone wall blocking further walking and a big sign stating, "Private Property, No Trespassing." Tourists have conveniently figured out a way to climb over the stone wall and as we stood there for about five minutes, we observed probably 80% of the visitors heading past this Private Property, conveniently ignoring it - despite the fact that they had to step around it and off the small path to continue on. With no more wall between walkers and a 400ft drop into the sea, and the trail skirting right on the cliff edge (since it's not an actual trail and rather, just a path worn by the tread of many feet), and hordes upon hordes of people walking and jockeying for position, I wasn't about to join in the madness.
|DANGER - No walking on fire while birds are around.|
From the Cliffs of Moher, we drove north and then cut inland to take a drive through The Burren area. Burren sounds a lot like "barren," and that's what the landscape seems at first glance. Burren actually comes from the Irish word for rocky country or great rock, Boireann. The ground is limestone with huge fissures in it, and in between the fissures, grass and/or wildflowers grow. The area has over 500 stone forts from the iron Age, 90 megalithic tombs, and in total, more than 2000 historical sites - in an area of about 100 sq miles, or roughly, the size of Charleston, South Carolina. The only stop we made was at Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb built 5000 years ago. Only excavated in the last 25 years, 33 people from Neolithic period (in Ireland, this was about 4500-1700 BC) were found buried in it.
The Burren itself is a wild landscape, with gray stones stretching as far as the eye can see. As the clouds rolled in, and we continued our drive back towards the coastline, we became surrounded by gray - land, sea, and sky. This marked a change in the weather that followed us for the next couple of days as we continued on to explore Galway and the Connemara region.