Monday, October 25, 2010

Ireland trip Day 6, Travelling to Galway Town

 Today we said goodbye to Killarney and headed north.  Passed through Castle Island again and hit a highway, lots of round-a-bouts here.  They make me nervous whenever I'm on one and this is worse, 'cause of the driving on the left side of the road.  In the end I just close my eyes!  We stop at Lahinch, Co. Claire, for lunch and another beach.  This one reminds me of La Jolla Shores in San Diego, maybe because of the surfers?  As we were standing on the walkway a bus pulled up and off loaded several teenage girls, dressed in their school uniforms.  Cute, I thought.  They walked over to one of the vans where surfing lessons were advertised and soon began pulling their clothing off!  After I picked my jaw up off the pavement I realized they had swim suits on under their uniforms and were donning wet suits for a surfing lesson!  Here's another "Prove I was in Ireland" photo! 

 After lunch it was off the the Cliffs of Moher.  Along the way we passed this ruin of a church complete with graveyard, a bit sad.  The second photo is of the beach at Lahinch and the stone walls used to divide fields.
 The Cliffs of Moher just take your breath away!  Today that was literal, it was extremely windy.  It's a long  walk up a lot of stairs but boy is it worth it!  That's a light house over there, so answering my own question Bri-Yes there are lighthouses in Ireland!
 I think these are all fuzzy as the wind was blowing my camera around, even though I mounted it on the Unipod!

 For once we were back at the bus and our driver, Tommy, and Mark, our general get us there on time guy, were late!  We gave them demerits!  A short drive later and we picked up our guide, Shane Connolly, for the Burren.  It looks like the moon or a desert but it is a Karst limestone formation and it may look bare but even this late in the year some of the alpine-like flowers are in bloom.  In the past locals have grazed their livestock on this and have picked plants for their medicinal properties but this is a protected area now and that is no longer allowed.

 Shane found many, let us taste some ICH, and told us their stories.  There are some wild goats and rabbits living here but not enough to keep the plants down .  Shane said that it would revert to pine and oak forest in 2 generations!  We even saw places where it is happening.

 Shane spoke of the changes in Irish west country life around the burren, villages that were once 2,000 with small fishing fleets are now about 200 (down to 2 pubs, those.)  The main causes being the Great potato famine, Tuberculosis and that "the girls are off having their nails done in Galway and Dublin."  Himself being a single farmer and quite vehemently against Sarah Palin! 
 Shane grazes his cattle on the low ground near the sea in the summer as the grass there falls over in winter.  Then in November he moves them up onto the hills for the winter.

There are stone walls everywhere, some have been dated back  1200 (or was it 12,000?) years, some 700 years and some Shane made yesterday.  Most walls are single dry fit walls, where strength is needed they are double (or if you want to show off or make work for someone--think WPA during the great depression.)

The tide is coming in, an extremely high tide causing flooding all along the way.

After a long day we finally arrive in Galway City, saying goodbye to our driver, Thomas-who had to drive back to Castle Island!

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