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Kinvarra - Tralee (through The Burren, Cliffs of Moher)

Home -> Europe -> Ireland -> Travelogue Ireland -> 17 December 2002

Tuesday 17 December, Kinvarra - Tralee (through The Burren, Cliffs of Moher)

Kinvarra KinvarraAfter a long sleep, we feel quite refreshed and we see a beautiful sunrise through our window. It is a new day and we are full of energy to see more of Ireland. It has been freezing, indeed, and we have to scratch the frost off the car windows. Are we glad we have brought gloves!
Since the B&B doesn't serve breakfast in the winter season we drive to Kinvarra where the pubs are already open. Men are sitting at the bar with pints of beer and whiskey before them. But it is only 9 o'clock, how do they manage to drink that stuff, this early? We are happy with just some coffee and a cigarette.
Then we drive into The Burren, a really desolate area (some 260 square kilometres) with slippery roads. We have to drive carefully on the narrow and winding roads, but we don't meet much traffic. The landscape radiates a desolation like we have seen in the Serra d'Estrella in Portugal: it is like a landscape on the moon. The ground exists of cracked plates of limestone where no tree can survive. There are also some limestone caves, but at Aillwee Cave we must wait too long for the next guided tour, so we drive on.
Poulnabrone dolmenOn unexpected places one can find dolmen, prehistoric tombs, on this spooky plateau. This is the famous Poulnabrone dolmen, build around 2000 BC.: 2 standing stones, with an enormous cover stone on top of it, weighing almost 30,000 kilo's.
The Burren The BurrenDespite the lack of growth above the surface, there is a great variety of vegetation on The Burren. Between the cracks of the rocks grow fern, ivy and many rare plants which normally only grow in a warmer climate.
Cromwell (An English statesman from the 17th century who dealt with the Irish quite cruelly) said about this region: "Here is no tree to hang a man, no water to drown him and no soil to bury him".
RuinsWhen we leave this bare and uninhabited area we pass many deserted buildings, like this ruin. It isn't a monument and nobody seems to care. Probably they will tear it down when somebody needs a place for a new building.
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of MoherWhen we get out of the car at the Cliffs of Moher there is a lot of wind and it is really chilly. Here 7 rocks rise from the sea, each almost 200 metres high.
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of MoherIt is an impressive spectacle to watch the sea hitting the rocks. These rocks are made by layers of (soft) limestone, but the solidness of the rocks prevent them from being pulverised by the seawater.
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of MoherOn top of the hill stands a watchtower, O'Brien's tower, with the best view on the coast. All kinds of birds nest on these steep rocks, mostly seagulls, but also atlantic puffins who carry out kamikaze flights by diving straight down into the sea.
Back in the car it takes a while before we get warm again, and our ears are still burning from the cold and lashing wind. We now leave the coast and turn towards Limerick. We want to go further to the south, but we are not sure if the ferry crosses the river Shannon in this time of year, that's why we take this detour.
EnnisIn the village Ennis we stop at a pub where, to my amazement, I see an old billboard recommending Irish Whisky. I always thought that Scottish whisky's were spelled without the letter 'e' before the 'y' and the Irish whiskey's with an 'e'. The lady behind the bar explains to me that there are some exceptions, so yes, there are some Irish whisky's.
Ennis EnnisEnnis is a fairly big place and the school kids have lunch break. The town is crawling with schoolkids in uniform. We get goosebumps from all the bare knees we see; the uniform of the girls is not suited for cold winters. Fortunately for them, in most other places they were allowed to wear longer socks.
Near Limerick, we take the road to Tralee, but after a few kilometres the roadnumber is changed and we are on the wrong one. It happens more often that a main road (according to the map and the roadnumber) is not really a main road, and that one has to guess where to go left or right. Sometimes we even have to cross roads, go left or right for a while and then there is a sign again with the right roadnumber. Very confusing sometimes. We don't mind too much, since we are on holiday. But we can imagine it can be very frustrating when you are in a hurry and can't find the way.
Sunset at TraleeJust before sunset we arrive at Tralee, a harbour town with a nice beach. But at the moment a bit too cold for us... We find a cheap hotel above a pub, but we can't park our car in the centre of town so we have to walk quite a bit with our luggage.
Hotel at TraleeMy feet hurt (an old ailment) and I am happy when we are back in our room, at night. Elisabeth too, as you can see on the picture.
At half 2 at night I suddenly wake up from a dream and I have the feeling I am present on a party of hobbits and elves, straight from the books of Tolkien. Downstairs, the sound is getting louder, probably because it is the last song of the Irish folkband. Still not totally awake, the music blends in with the last fragments of my dream. It feels very special and quite unreal. Still enjoying the echos of the music I fall asleep again, happy and content.


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