Doolin, Ireland

June 19th - 21st, 2004

View of West coast -Doolin area

After Dave's conference, we picked up a car and headed to Doolin. Located on the west coast of Ireland across from the Aran Islands, it's relatively close to all the major attractions on my to do list. I knew I wanted to stay in a B&B and I must say the internet had tons of choices. Of course, my first choice was booked, so I went with my second choice. Funny thing was that I agonized over picking the perfect place and when we drove down the street I saw all the places just lined up next door to each other.

Believe it or not, this was our first time to drive on the wrong side of the road! Dave did a pretty good job I must say... even in spite of the cows...
All the roads were two lane, SMALL lane, winding roads. I was reading the map to make sure we didn't miss our turnoff and all of a sudden Dave slams on the brakes. I look up, about to have a small heart attack, too see about 20 cows and a farmer in front of us. He was hearding the cows down the road in our lane... to where I don't know. He looked at us, like ummmm you're in the way of my cows. So we pulled into the opposite lane and went around him. It was pretty funny afterward!
cow crossing

Safely arriving at the B&B, I knocked on the door to no answer. It was strange because I called ahead to say we were on our way. I wait a few minutes and then start wandering around the back of the house. I can hear kids voices in the distance. Finally I come to a barn and find the parents watching the kids play in the hay. From our room we had a great view of the Atlantic Ocean.
B&B View

That evening, we went to a local pub for "hometown" atmosphere. Funny thing was that after we sat down we noticed the whole pub was full of tourists, mostly from the U.S. We met a very talkative older couple who had been traveling around Ireland for a couple of weeks. We talked to them while we ate dinner and then headed back to the B&B just in time for a beautiful sunset over the Aran Islands.

Saturday morning, first stop was the ferry to the Aran Islands. Arriving at the pier just after the 10:00 had departed, we played on the shore until it was time to board the 11:00 ferry.

dave seaside seaside
*******Click here to see the Aran Islands*******

After the island, we jumped in the car and headed to Aillwee Cave. The cave is located just south of Ballyvaughan, which was about a 45 minute drive northeast of the islands. As we headed over there the skies darkened and it began to rain. I think it's unwritten law that there will be some sort of precipitation every afternoon/evening in Ireland. Luckily, by the time we reached the caves the rain stopped.

The landscape in this part of the country, called the Burren, was really beautiful. The Burren, which literally means stony place, is made up of limestone. Limestone lets the rain water seep down and erode through the mountains carving a huge network of caves throughout the area. In fact, there really aren't many rivers to be seen in the area because they are all underground.
Burren landscape Burren me my artistic shot
If you want to learn more about the Burren, just click here

Anyway, we took a tour of the Aillwee Cave, which was discovered in 1944 by Jack McGann as he followed his dog chasing after a rabbit. The cave had remains of bears which hibernated there in the winter time. It also had underground waterfalls, stalagmites, and stalactites. The tour guide was telling us how these waterfalls quickly grow when it rains. She also pointed out how the roof of one section was smooth due to the water which raged down the path ages ago.
Aillwee Cave bones Aillwee Cave dave Aillwee Cave

Continuing down the highway, we stopped at the Poulnabrone portal dolmen. This is a burial tomb which was estimated to have been erected some 6000 years ago. The dead person was placed in the burial chamber and then a flat stone was placed to block the doorway. The huge rock formations that Dave are sitting on are a good example of the Burren landscape. These were scattered all around the portal dolmen.
Poulnabrone portal dolmen rocks area around Poulnabrone Dave at Poulnabrone rocks area

This is a typical example of the little roads in the area.
driving shot

Since it was approaching dinner time, we piled back in the car and headed for the B&B. That night we ate in a "family" restaurant down the street from the B&B. I normally don't pick anything that says "family", but it was close and we were hungry. It was called Stone Cutters Kitchen and it was very very good. I had the Irish Stew again and Dave ordered Jerk chicken. Then for dessert we ordered apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. It was all yummy!

Sunday morning, we checked out of the B&B and headed for the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher are 8km long and 214 meters high. There are signs saying to stick to the walkway, but some people were climbing out over the fence and walking to the edges of the cliffs. Some would even walk on the little ledge along the cliff... not very bright! The neatest thing was to watch the birds flying in the air currents beside the cliffs. A little further up the hill is O'Briens Tower which was built in 1835.
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher O'Briens Tower Cliffs of Moher view2
Cliffs of Moher us Cliffs of Moher & beyond

The plan for the day was to meander down the coast towards the general direction of the airport. These are a few of the pictures between Doolin and Miltown Malbay...
Coastline drive bridge Coastline drive beach drive plants

The woodlands End

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