As I mentioned in my guest post on Standby to Somewhere, I am the spawn of two travel lovers. Yes, I said spawn (one of them also happens to be a sci-fi nerd). As such, I grew up traveling a fair bit and one of the most recent, and these days rare, family vacations we took together was to Ireland in June 2010. Having tried repeatedly for about 25 years to make the trip, my parents finally lucked out and as an added bonus, brought along my brother and I, my brother’s best friend, my grandmother, and our dear friend (my “sister”) and her daughter. We were quite the crew.
When my parents travel they like to go off the beaten path you could say and tend to avoid the more popular tourist destinations, opting instead to see more of the pure culture and scenery, unadulterated by years of tourism. This led us to The Burren in County Clare in the mid west of the country. The small town we stayed in was called Corofin and had one main road and about two or three pubs. It was the quintessential Irish country village and it was perfect. My mom even went all out renting out an old tower house castle in the countryside for the eight of us.
I had never heard of The Burren before, but it is really a remarkable place that more people should know about and visit (although I’m torn because it’s so perfect as the hidden gem it seems to be). Driving and walking around, the terrain is unlike any other I’ve seen and it made for some amazing photographs.
Our digs- not too shabby! The tower house was actually part original structure and part was rebuilt to historical specifications. There are old tower house ruins all over The Burren.
The actual tower was original and the “windows” were slits shaped for shooting arrows at a wide range- so cool! (I remembered that fun historical tidbit from middle school- can I get some sort of retrospective extra credit for that?)
The terrain of the Burren looks mostly like this; limestone formations laden with fissures and sinkholes from its origins when it was under ice during the last glacial period. (thank you wikipedia) If you want to get technical, and I do, it is a “glacio-karst landscape”.
Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb dating back to the neolithic period (really stinkin’ old, like thousands of years BC old) Probably one of the oldest things I’ve ever seen (not counting rocks…which are all pretty old I take it) You can’t find stuff like that in America.
I love this picture so much. It’s our dear friend’s daughter who affectionately calls my mom “Mimi” and is the reason I don’t have to worry about supplying my parents with grandchildren any time soon. Mimi made up an elaborate story about fairies in Ireland and how if you see one, it will freeze and turn into a doll. Mimi obviously planned ahead and bought a fairy doll and hid it in the grounds of the tower house one day. This photo is from the fairy hunt that ensued.
Alright one more- you can’t tell me it isn’t cute.
That’s my brother’s best friend in the background. She’s artsy, the photo is kind of artsy; it works.
Here’s a tip: the iconic Cliffs of Moher are in County Clare, but if you go just around the corner you can see the Cliffs at Loop Head which have almost ZERO tourists (unlike the busloads -literally- that drop off at Moher) and no ropes or rails so you can look right over the edge or if you are like my insane brother and dad, climb on down some sketchy looking ragged rocks and flirt with death.
In case you forget, that’s L-O-O-P H-E-A-D. For real though, there are messages like this all around at Loop Head left over from visitors; mostly names with the occasional smiley face and peace sign thrown in.
Because what else does one do when frolicking around the cliffs in Ireland?
Family shot hanging over the cliff. In retrospect, this is definitely a contender for awkwardfamilyphotos.com, no question. (Yes, that is a real site, and YES you should go check it out and be prepared to laugh your ass off and at the same time be slightly disturbed)
I can’t really tell you much about the photo as I don’t really remember much about it or where it was taken (somewhere in The Burren, obviously) but it’s pretty, so we’ll leave it at that.
We did and saw a lot of other wonderful things but I’ll save those for another rainy day. (Literally, it’s raining here) Also, we obviously couldn’t see all of Ireland during our short stay (I didn’t see Dublin or kiss the blarney stone- GASP) , but the one thing I really want to make a trip back to see is the Giant’s Causeway, which is-surprise, surprise- another rock formation! Check out pictures, it’s really amazing!