Burren National Park.

Today was perhaps the PERFECT day to get out and enjoy the sunshine in the Burren. Shamefully, I haven’t been to the National Park in a few years so I headed out today. 

To get to the National Park, you take the turn off in Kilnaboy and drive for 4km approximately until you see the entrance. In quiet times like today it was fine to take my car but in the summer it’s probably a better idea to get the shuttle bus from Corofin. 

There are a few choices of trail depending on the time you have and fitness ability. 

The scenery is amazing as are the flowers and plants. 

The trails are well signposted and today it was relatively quiet. I met just two other people out walking. 

The park is worth a visit if you’re looking to get outdoors and really explore all the Burren has to offer. 

(Feel free to drop me a line if you’re thinking of heading here and I’ll give you better direction!)

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Murroughtouhy

Murroughtouhy is one of my FAVOURITE places to go. It is located on the coast road between Ballyvaughan and Fanore in Co. Clare. It is a stop along the Wild Atlantic Way and from there you can see Galway bay, Connemara, Black head and the Aran Islands. 

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk

I wanted to make use of the sunshine last week so I decided to head to the Cliffs and do the coastal walk. It all started off so well.  I took the coast road from Ballyvaughan and the weather made the place look so good.

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Eventually, I made it to the Cliffs.  The cost of the car park for a student is just 4 euro.  I arrived at about midday so there weren’t too many in the car park.  The coastal walk is only 8km so I headed off with my phone, water, a few walking snacks and great intentions.   I’ve never developed such an aversion to people as I did on the coastal walk.  They are everywhere. I mean literally I couldn’t escape them.  I had to line up to take my photos as every one and their friends were taking photos also.  I thought that when I was over the “official” Cliffs of Moher part, it would all quieten down and be grand.  No such luck.  It was possibly the least enjoyable experience I’ve had in Co. Clare. i turned around after about 3km because I was getting so annoyed.  Not to worry, next time, I’ll start on the other side and end at the Cliffs.  I took some pictures that you can see below.

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Michael Cusack Centre- a must for GAA fans

I visited the Michael Cusack centre by complete accident. I was actually on my way to the Burren Centre in Kilfenora when I saw the sign and figured it was closer than Kilfenora.  My uncle had been going on about how great the centre was a few weeks ago so I figured I’d go down and see it.

The centre is tucked away down a little road between Ballyvaughan and Kilfenora.  Thankfully it’s well signposted.  The only distinguishing feature from the road are the flags flying outside.  For a place that’s in the middle of nowhere, it has a beautiful centre. The building is looks very new and blends into the surroundings.  A short walk down the path is a thatched cottage, home of Michael Cusack.

Entry for a student was about 4 euro so a trip here won’t break the bank.  The man at reception was chatty and friendly and explained the whole thing to me.  I was happy to walk around the education room and read the displays which are in English and Irish, bonus points for that.  I usually get really bored walking from one display to another but these were super interesting.  They take you through his early life, education, early career, motivation behind founding the GAA, trouble when he did found it and his later life.  I was slightly traumatized when I realised how terribly his life ended.

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Displays of the life and times of Michael Cusack.

Just a few minutes after I had started reading, another worker, Seamus, came in and we started to chat about the impact that Michael Cusack had on modern Ireland.  The fact that GAA clubs are not exclusively located in Ireland are a testimony to the legacy that he left behind.  Seamus  was so enthusiastic about the topic and knew loads of little facts and points on the life of Michael Cusack.

The walk from the indoor display to the cottage is short but pretty.  A row of trees line the path down and it was explained that they were planted for the anniversary a few years ago.

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The Tipperary Tree .

And then the most beautiful little cottage appeared.  This cottage houses a three part audio visual on the early life, education and finally the meeting in Hayes Hotel in Thurles.  The house is decorated with appropriate pieces of furniture and the videos run in sequence while you move from one room to another.

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The cottage that Michael Cusack grew up in.

 

I didn’t expect to enjoy this attraction because I’m not all that interested in GAA but when I got there, I found myself becoming enthralled in the life of the man who founded the GAA.  Everything is so well presented that it’s hard for me to fault anything about my experience there.  Big shout out to the staff that were there on the day.  They seemed to have all the time in the world to speak with me and we had a great conversation about anything and everything.  Would I go back? Absolutely. And I think that every GAA team should consider going to this to see and appreciate the man from Carron.  You cam find out more by logging on to their website http://michaelcusack.ie/

My visit to Caherconnell Stone Fort

I’ve worked near Caherconnell for a while but shamefully I’ve never actually visited. I had heard that there were sheepdog demonstrations at Caherconnell so I decided that today was the day that I would go and see what they were all about.  Obviously, they don’t just do them on demand so you have to check the website for the times. You can access that here

I arrived in plenty of time so first was the visit out to the fort.  A joint student ticket costs about 8.20 so good value for what you get.  Prices are all on their website.  The man at the reception desk was really informative, explaining the self guided tour and going through the booklet you receive.  First, there is a 20 minute video that explains about the Burren, the forts in the area and the significance of Caherconnell as well as an animation of how life might have been like in the fort.

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Through the stones of the wall around the fort. 

From there you continue to the fort and each stop is marked with an explanation in the booklet.  Because it’s a self guided tour, it is as entertaining and interesting as you make it yourself. I thought it was fascinating and it seems like there are archaeological digs continuing there so I look forward to hearing about any findings.

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Some of the flowers around the fort.

I headed back inside for a bite to eat before the sheepdog demonstrations.  The menu was so good, I felt really pressurized to make the right choice, so many delicious dishes, so little time. In the end, I went for a toasted wrap.  It was a little on the untoasted side but the cafe is so cute and the staff are all pottering around doing little jobs that I didn’t really care that it was a little cold.

Eventually, the sheepdog demonstration happened. I really only visited for the sheepdogs and they did not disappoint! First, the farmer, John, introduced the dogs and the job they do and it was so lovely to see how well he knew their personalities.  He was so knowledgeable about the subject that it was a pleasure to hear him speak.

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The farmer with a pup that they are training.  

Then the dogs went out and he showed us how they work by voice and by whistle.  Those dogs have mad skills, super handy with the sheep and mad for action.

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The dogs in action. 

He worked the dogs several times before getting them to work together and separate the herd. Finally, we learned a bit about the type of sheep used in the Burren and the reasons for the different colours on them and so on. The demonstration took about 40 minutes or so.

I cannot recommend this place enough. I must have spent well over 2 hours here between exploring the fort, eating and checking out the sheepdog demo.  The staff are my kind of staff, well presented, working away at different jobs, polite and informative.  The attraction is so simple but effective.  If you want to find out more, including where they are located, you can check out their website here.

My trip to Burren Perfumery

It has been about 7 years since I went to Burren Perfumery so I headed out that direction on Friday.  I must say that I don’t remember it being as remote as it is. I was driving along the road and never have I been so grateful to see another car behind me.  It is literally tucked away in the middle of nowhere outside the village of Carron.  The perfumery is very well signposted so just stay going and you’ll find it.

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The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how peaceful it is.  It is so calm and quiet and no one seems to be in any rush. They immediately got 5 stars for the cleanliness of the area.  There is not one piece of litter anywhere and the bathrooms are beautiful.  I headed into the main building and there is a great video on the plants in the Burren and the materials they use in their products.  The staff were all really friendly and the shop is so well presented that you do want to buy something. Every product comes with a tester and an explanation that is quite thorough and the staff seem to want to help you out.

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When I was finished there, I headed out to the herb garden and again it was so well presented.

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People were walking around, discussing the plants and taking their time. There is also a workshop of some sort and a tea room.  The tea rooms seemed to be quite popular with everyone choosing to enjoy their refreshments outside in the sunshine.

I cannot recommend the perfumery enough.  It makes a great trip for an hour or two if you’re in the area. It does all the small things right and I’ll definitely be back there when I run out of moisturizer. You can find out more about them by checking out their website here.

 

 

 

 

Aillwee Cave

It’s been a few weeks since I went to visit Aillwee Cave but because I had to put the head down to pass exams I am only writing it now!

I used to work in the lovely Aillwee Cave back in the day before I moved to Korea and I was so excited to go back and see everyone. I loved it! First, some directions;

From Dublin: You’re looking at 3 hours, https://www.google.ie/maps/dir/Dublin/Aillwee+Cave,+Ballyvaughan,+Co.+Clare/@53.0406089,-8.8338812,8z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x48670e80ea27ac2f:0xa00c7a9973171a0!2m2!1d-6.2603097!2d53.3498053!1m5!1m1!1s0x485ba11bdeeab773:0xa4fa3594ae71264f!2m2!1d-9.1436674!2d53.0891282!3e0

From Shannon: Only about an hour. https://www.google.ie/maps/dir/Shannon+Airport,+Co.+Clare/Aillwee+Cave,+Ballyvaughan,+Co.+Clare/@52.9146387,-9.300667,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x485b41dad0f8b40b:0x6bf3c305b024f8dc!2m2!1d-8.9146911!2d52.6996573!1m5!1m1!1s0x485ba11bdeeab773:0xa4fa3594ae71264f!2m2!1d-9.1436674!2d53.0891282!3e0

The whole Burren area is absolutely worth a day trip if you’re visiting Ireland so be sure to visit all the great locations around the Burren. Check out this website if you’re looking for more ideas, http://www.burrennationalpark.ie/

Entry Fees for Aillwee Cave & Burren Bird of Prey centre  are on their website here, http://www.aillweecave.ie/opening-times

My day was brilliant. From the second I drove up with all the lovely flags, I knew I was back. First on the list was naturally a cuppa or two and a good catch up with all my old friends.

Then it was off for a little walk through the woods and I believe there are all kinds of great activities happening there in the high season. The walking made me a bit hungry so it’s just as well that there was some delicious cheese and fudge there that needed tasting. The fact that the cheese is award winning makes it even more delicious.

The farmhouse is super cute, I almost didn’t want to walk over to see the birds.

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The Bird of Prey centre is quite wonderful if I may say so myself. I learned so much from the information panels and the guys who work there. And the shows! They are amazeballs, that is the only word to describe it.

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After I finished my cave tour, I realised that I had spent hours and hours here and it really is a day trip so be sure to give yourself enough time if you are going to visit.

What I’ve always loved is the staff so be sure to have a chat with them when you’re visiting. Before I sign off, check out this video from the Bird of Prey centre. https://www.facebook.com/540988015/videos/vb.540988015/10153177465818016/?type=3&theater

 

Obviously, I enjoyed my day there and if you have any questions, just send them my way.