On our first weekend here, we were all driven around the Burren (a large geographical area) in a coach by Brian, our crazy talented driver. It was meant to be an overview of this place we're living for the next four months, and we saw a lot. Be prepared for loads of pictures!
There was a beautiful rainbow while we were looking at the remains of an old stone fort. It ended very near to Ballyvaughan - the smudge inside the circle is the tower/castle that's part of the school grounds.
This is one of the hills of the Burren. It's a limestone plateau that was pushed up ages ago, and then scoured by glaciers during the ice age. So we get these rounded stone hills with essentially no soil on them, with greener valleys in between, around the edges.
This is a prehistoric wedge tomb. It was just sitting in a farmer's field, and we saw it out the window of the bus. Apparently a boy found a piece of gold near it that turned out to be a burial collar!
This is another tomb - a dolmen. It's called Poll na Bron, which means hole of sorrows. It's a lot bigger than the wedge tomb. Some believe that the capstone and the other horizontal slab on the ground served as stages for druidic rituals.
Just a pretty view from a small arts community center we stopped at.
Next we went to Kilfenora, and saw the Celtic high crosses that they had there. This was the only one outside - the rest were protected inside part of the church, with a glass ceiling where it had fallen into ruins.
This photo's for you, Maggie! The cross had such beautiful knotwork on it.
A more figure-driven carving on this cross. You can also see the glass structure that protects the crosses from the elements.
The rest of the crosses were only segments, but still pretty neat.
I really love the strange optical illusions of this doorway - it looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland!
This is over by the cliffs of Moher, just a little island out in the water, with the ruins of a tower on it.
Here's an example of what the limestone pavement of the Burren likes to do. It splits along very straight lines, in geometrical patterns. Amazing as it may seem, all these lines are not man-made. They're super fun to walk on, though!
More of the crazy natural splitting of the limestone rocks.
I apparently didn't get a good picture of the cliffs of Moher, but here they're off in the distance, behind the buildings of Doolin. They were really impressive, and some of us may go back when it's warmer and take a boat trip under them!