Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Day in Moher and the Burren

This post is part of my British Invasion 2014 series. For all posts in the series, click here.

For our third day in Ireland, we took the Moher and Burren tour with Extreme Ireland led by the friendly guide, Mac. Our first "stop" was at Ollie Hayes Bar in Moneygall, famous now because President Obama stopped in for a pint a few years back. Frankly, I didn't find it very interesting (especially since it was about 7am, so it was closed), but the flower boxes above the bar were beautiful.



The main attraction for the day was the Cliffs of Moher (pronounced like "more"), but as we came to expect from Extreme Ireland, there were several other intriguing stops along the way. Plenty of them on this day, especially!

The first was along the River Shannon in Limerick, where we had a perfect view of King John's Castle. Well, one of them. Apparently there's more than one "King John's Castle" in Ireland. 



The site where we stopped is famous for this rock:


The Treaty Stone is where a peace treaty was signed between the Irish and the English after the Battle of the Boyne in 1691. It was later installed on this pedestal to prevent the stone from being ruined by people.

Then it was on to the Cliffs! They were beautiful. So much green and blue!



The tower was closed, so I got a little artsy with the doorway.



After a few minutes around the tower, we headed to the other end of the cliffs, following this path:



That photo above seem familiar? It's been in a few small movies...like Harry Potter.


I call this next shot my Nike Ad.


We didn't see any of the puffins that are known to live on the cliffs, but we I did get a little gutsy and live on the edge for a few minutes!



After a while exploring the cliffs, and using the free wifi to post some awesome shots to Instagram, the tour moved on to lunch. We stopped in Doolin to eat at McGann's Pub.


McGann's is this warm little pub with some pretty good food. They've got these police, fire, etc. badges all over the walls near the bar. At first, we just thought it was cool decor. But looking closer, we noticed some familiar names. Many of the badges come from the towns near my home in Massachusetts! According to the bartender, there's a McGann's in Boston, too!

The next stop was in the surreal Burren in County Clare. It's this vast space of limestone overlooking Galway Bay that makes you feel like you're on another planet. Because of how the sun hit the limestone,  the colors of every photo I took came out differently!


Someday, I'm coming back and doing what the lady (that you can't see very well) in the middle of this next photo is doing: Sitting in the rocks, with a book and a drink.



I feel like this should be the alien landscape in some Doctor Who adventure.


From the Burren we went to Corcomroe Abbey, built sometime in the 11th century. Like many other spots in Ireland, it's a beautiful, slightly ruinous chapel that is now home to a graveyard.





What set this one apart, for me at least, was what our tour guide said when we got in: that there's a crypt you can stick your hand/camera in and maybe get a picture of the bones inside. He said he never believed this rumor until he recently saw another tour guide's photo, but that no one on his tours had captured them on film...or whatever the proper term is today.


So I made my way over to the crypt, going to the narrow space between the crypt and the window:


In this space just a little wider than my body, I got down on hands and knees, as Mac directed me to the ground-level opening in the center of the grave. At his instruction I nervously put my hand, camera attached, into the tiny hole, blindly pointed my camera to the left, and clicked. On my first try, this is what I came away with:


Look! Bones!! A skull!! Others took turns, all unable to get a glimpse of the elusive bones, then I went back for another chance. Stuck my hand in and shot at a few different angles, and wasn't disappointed. 


A full skull! What I assume is a femur!


I have no idea why there's a hole in the crypt, but this was a cool, albeit a bit morbid, experience. And I'm proud to say that me and my point-and-shoot got the shots no one else, with any camera, was able to get! Mac seemed pretty happy, too.

Thank's to Mac's tour guide buddies, we had an unplanned stop. There was a new chocolate factory up the road, so it was kinda mandatory that we stop. Hazel Mountain Chocolates was a cute little place, but seemed a bit pricey. However, it smelled delicious, and you could watch the chocolates get made, so it was a fun extra stop.


Our tour for the day wrapped up in Kinvara, an adorable little town on the water that is home to Dunguaire Castle and the annual Hooker Regatta.

According to Mac, the castle is owned by a wealthy English woman who now lives there and opens it up for banquets. A future goal of mine is to go to one of the banquets. Also to own a castle.


Hookers, for the unenlightened, are boats similar to this one, ancient in design, and prized by many Irishmen. Another goal is to go for a ride on one of these hookers.



The colors of the buildings here are beautiful.


This day was a bit dreary weather-wise, which caused some sleepiness and motion sickness, but overall it was another fabulous day in Ireland!

Disclaimer: I am not cool enough to have affiliate links or sponsors (at least not yet). All opinions are strictly my own, and all links are shared because I think they're awesome.

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