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HOME AT FIRST's

ADVENTURE

CENTRAL IRELAND

Taken from Home At First’s "Ireland Activity Guide"

THE

MYSTERIES

OF

 WESTERN COUNTY CLARE, IRELAND

From the moonscape wilderness of the Burren to the great drama of Ireland's Atlantic wall at the  Cliffs of Moher, western County Clare is primitive Ireland at its natural best, and most surprising.

 THE POULNABRONE DOLMEN:
WHO SET THE TABLE ON THE BURREN?


Photos © Home At First

          County Clare extends from the western Atlantic coast of Ireland to the center of the Republic of Ireland. Its eastern and southern borders are the waterways of the Shannon River, longest in Ireland. Along the Shannon and its principal lake, Lough Derg, County Clare is fertile, green, and dotted with prosperous towns. In pretty Killaloe town, overlooking the point where the Shannon flows out of Lough Derg to begin its journey west to the Atlantic, HOME AT FIRST has guest cottages.

THE BURREN
          Western County Clare is different. A high, rocky plateau rises from the ocean which assaults it with great winds and waves. Part of this plateau, called
THE BURREN, is largely a wilderness of rocky outcroppings, in some eyes more reminiscent of a moonscape than the lush pastoral greens of Ireland.

          Here is a region to visit if you enjoy

 

wild, unusual, remarkable, surprising, even other-worldly scenery. The flora, archaeology, geology, legends and history of this unique and mysterious area are explained at the Burren Centre in Kilfenora. The Burren Centre is open daily from mid-March through October from at least 10AM–5PM. You can eat at the center's tea room or stop for a light snack or a hearty meal at nearby Vaughan’s Pub. Before leaving Kilfenora, be sure to visit the cathedral grounds, site of several still standing high crosses and other medieval artifacts and architecture.
          There is history and prehistory here. Among the rocks protruding across the treeless Burren is the Poulnabrone Dolmen prehistoric standing stone table. The dolmen is a 6,000-year-old burial marker and the most famous of the many prehistoric monuments here. It may not be Stonehenge, but the Poulnabrone Dolmen is a mystery in mysterious place. Who erected it and why here in such a barren

The Poulnabrone Dolmen - a mystery 6,000 years old. Photo © Home At First.
The Poulnabrone Dolmen —
a mystery 6,000 years old.

Photo © Home At First

wilderness are questions that remain

 

unanswered.
          Not all the mysteries of the Burren are above ground. Below the Burren is Aillwee Cave, one of the oldest and most extensive in Ireland. A tour guide shows you through the underground passages into the heart of this recently discovered cave.


THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
          Most famous among the dramatic, unusual, and even powerfully eerie landscapes of western County Clare are the CLIFFS OF MOHER about an hour's drive

 

southwest from the Aillwee Cave along

The Cliffs of Moher seen from the outcropping by O'Brians Tower. Photo © Home At First.
The Cliffs of Moher — IRELAND'S ATLANTIC WALL —
seen from the outcropping by O'Brian's Tower.

Photo © Home At First

the fabulous Atlantic coast road west and south. The cliffs form the great western wall of Ireland just south of Galway Bay. They are exposed to the full wrath of the Atlantic Ocean and are worth a visit particularly on a breezy day. The sheer cliffs extend from Hag’s Head in the south, where they are 400 feet high, to O’Brian’s Tower in the north, where they reach a height of 656 feet. Between these two points are five miles of generally flat plateau. The best views can be had at O’Brian’s Tower, where, on a clear day, you can get a fine view of the Aran Islands which guard the entrance to Galway Bay.

 

          To golfers, a more noted

landmark is further along  the coast. One of Ireland's great links courses, Lahinch, is along the coast road not far from the Cliffs of Moher. Here, too, there is stark beauty, and the vagaries of Atlantic weather can suddenly change the mood and the challenge of the course from friendly to fierce. The mystery at Lahinch, of course, is which mood will the course exhibit the day you play.


THE CHARACTER OF RURAL IRELAND

          There is no mystery about the quality of the food and the character of the Irish who reside in County Clare. The choices of dining are almost endless, ranging from sumptuous banquets in medieval castles to pub grub with live Irish music, to fine dining in elegant restaurants featuring the best of seafood, Irish meats, inland produce and dairy items. The Irish character in County Clare is that made legendary by William Butler Yeats, himself an Irish legend. The Protestant Dubliner fell in love with Ireland's rural western counties. In its downtrodden, impoverished peasantry Yates saw something that impressed him, and his writings of Irish myth, beauty, and mystery bestowed dignity on a people that had been treated as cultural inferiors on two continents. In the Irish vernacular Yeats heard music and poetry. In the impoverished, empty land he saw poetic beauty. In the styles of the common Irish he saw a harmony with the land, an ease and grace in the face of

Man from County Clare. Photo courtesy B.J. Albertson.
CITIZEN  FROM
COUNTY CLARE

Photo © Home At First

daunting challenges from Nature and from foreign domination.

 

W. B. Yates, like America’s Walt Whitman and Carl Sandberg, saw nobility in the commonplace. His songs of praise of his adopted home and its natives have earned both the attention of the world, and won Yates the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.


 

FOND OF MYSTERIES?

You can explore the mysteries of western County Clare as
part of your travels in Central Ireland with
HOME AT FIRST.
More about
HOME AT FIRST's travel program to: CENTRAL IRELAND.

This article is taken from HOME AT FIRST’s 100+ page
 comprehensive "Ireland Activity Guide". The only way to get your copy is to travel with
HOME AT FIRST to Ireland.

 
Home At First's exclusive "Ireland Activity Guide".

YOUR DREAM TRIP BEGINS BY CONTACTING 
HOME AT FIRST