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.
My last attempt at the Cliffs coastal walk wasn’t particularly successful. When my friend Sarah told me she wanted an activity based reunion, I figured we’d give it another go.
I had learned my lesson and started in Doolin. We had great intentions of walking from Doolin to the cliffs and on to Liscannor, a mere 16km. After a few minutes, with both of us avid photographers, it became apparent that even 8km to the Cliffs was going to take a LONG time.
We were lucky that there were nearly any other people out walking and enjoyed the nicest walk with the most spectacular views.
Once we got closer to the Cliffs of Moher, the crowds are massive but the best of the walk was before that so we didn’t mind.
Luckily, there is a shuttle bus in operation and for 6 euro we got a lift back to Doolin. I would LOVE to do the 8km from the Cliffs to Liscannor as the views are supposed to be astounding so hopefully I can do that next time.
I’d recommend that you ask a local for the road to the start of the walk as it’s not brilliantly signposted. Once you’re on the path, you’re set.
There’s a few things I’ve noticed since I moved back down to the Burren. One is that everything starts with “Wild Atlantic……”Wild Atlantic Way, Wild Atlantic Walking tours, Wild Atlantic tours and the list goes on and on and most recently it’s been the Wild Atlantic Lodge in Ballyvaughan. Back in my day it was called Logues. What was wrong with Logues? Nothing, it just didn’t have the ring to it that Wild Atlantic Lodge has, or as someone pointed out WAL.
Now that that rant is over, I did decide to dine there the other night when doing an interview for my research. As it turns out, they got a lovely new dining room and when I say lovely, I mean it’s lovely. Totally different to the bar side of the venue but super new and it still has that clean new look about it. A big shout out here to Jamie and the staff who are legends.
The menu has LOADS of choice but I chose the lasagne since I hadn’t had it in so long. It didn’t come like lasagne normally does, it came out looking better, like someone had put a lot of time and effort into making it from scratch. I scraped the plate and then started in to the salad that came with it. Deceptively delicious is what it was. We tried to figure out the dressing but couldn’t, my best guess was some kind or orange dressing but whatever it was, it was brilliant. I skipped dessert in favour of tea and the damage for 2 main meals, a drink and the tea was only about 30 euro so pretty good.
It is a popular place so my advice is to go there early if you want to eat. I’ll be like a bad smell there during the summer turning up whenever I don’t feel like cooking at home!
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I was finished there, I headed out to the herb garden and again it was so well presented.
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.
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.+Clarefirstname.lastname@example.org,-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.+Clareemail@example.com,-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.
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.
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.