We discuss funny words such as tesselation* while we jump around on the rocky ground. The Burren. Here they call it karst.
Accommodation and rental car was booked in advance when we boarded the plane to Ireland. Some of the plans for the trip were decided as well, but still there is room for ideas and changes along the way, and this is one of them. We never decided what to do between Mountshannon and Doolin, so when Joe proposed to drive north along the lake towards Loughrea (and Galway) and then turn the nose toward the coast and The Burren, I was happy. This is one road I remember well from last time we were in Ireland, and I liked it very much. There is something so rough, wild and beautiful about it.
It all kind of starts at the Dunguaire Castle at Kinvarra. – Would you like to stop here? I ask and turn my head to the backseat. My parents nod. It is not a large castle, but it said that it is the most photographed castle in Ireland … It was built in the 1500s, and like many other castles in the British Isles, it hosts a Medieval Banquet. I was at a similar thing in Newcastle many years ago and liked it very much, but the quality and experience is apparently varying from castle to castle. Dunguaire Castle is certainly an interesting location. Joe is singing Galway Bay while we study the site. Today it is low tide and a bunch of swans have settled among all the seaweed and rocks. With the white feathers they look almost like patches of snow.
As we are getting closer to Ballyvaughn we begin to see what The Burren is about. Stone! The Burren is called a karst landscape. All the water falling from the sky disappear into the stone cracks causing bad condition for vegetation to grow here. The landscape appears barren and windswept. But we’re not quite there yet. First we want to see what the little Farmers Market in Ballyvaughn has to offer. The sun comes out when we wander around and look at the fresh crabs and lobsters. Crave for the cakes. Taste the strawberries. Two baskets of strawberries come with us in the car.
We are on the way out of this cozy place when we pass something that looks like a goal. The farther south we drive the more cyclists we see. There must be a race going on.
We won’t disturb them. Soon we are by the sea sniffing the salty sea air. It feels like Ireland’s response to Mølen outside the town of Larvik in Norway. Here is just stones. And the sea. We walk around a bit. Taking pictures, studying the rock formations, jumping over cracks, studying a flower and just … enjoy being here. PK has a new camera and has taken a view on a rock that resembles … a dinosaur?
It is time for lunch and our stomachs are rumbling when we park outside the O` Donohue’s Pub in Craggah. It is quite busy here! Cyclists stop at a bench to drink water before rushing off. Someone does not stop there. Inside the pub there are more people buying drinks. Water, juice, beer … most of it is welcomed.
– This is GREAT! grins one of them. He has taken two big jugs of juice, which he takes outside. Soon he is back again. – It’s about participation, not winning, he continues. – Once, we stopped here, a whole bunch, finished watching a football match on TV before finishing the race!
More people sit outside and relax. They reckon there are a few hundreds participating in the race, and tell me there are several routes. Now and then we see those who are taking the race very seriously passing by. One can distinguish participants by looking at the bikes and equipment. And speed, of course. Personally I think that participating itself is quite impressive. We have driven quite a bit since we saw the race’s start and end back in Ballyvaughn. Add plenty of side winds and rain that comes and goes and you have their conditions.
We sit down. Order food. Shortly after Mom starts digging in her Irish stew, while the rest of us have ordered the day’s fresh cod in what I think is one of the best fish and chips I have ever tasted.
It seems like there is little to do in this landscape. Nevertheless, I am in love with this part of Ireland. The heart is big here, the atmosphere good. And we have more to come. The evening will be spent in Doolin.
* Tessolation: In Tasmania, we found something they call Tesselated Pavement. It almost looks as if they are human made, looking at the perfect check patterned surface by the sea at the Tasman Peninsula. It is simply erosion.