Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Burren

Ok, so it's catch-up time! I've been seeing so many things, and failing to post about them, but I will fix that.

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!

The walls separating the fields are all made out of piled stones, with no mortar. Especially up on top of the hills and plateau, they are built one stone thick, with natural gaps to let the wind through so the walls don't blow over. They're really quite pretty silhouetted against the sky.

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!

The waves were really impressive up against the rock cliffs (not the cliffs of Moher, those are bigger - we were right across the bay from them). Apparently they often get higher than this, and there are also frequent "freak waves" that splash up several levels of the plateau/cliffs along the shore, and can sweep you away if you're not careful. So we were instructed to remain on the upper levels away from the water.

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!


This was our final stop, and it was to show us the glacial erratics. Those are the big rounded stones sitting on top of the limestone pavement. They were in the glaciers and rolled around, which made them rounded, and then when the glaciers melted, they just dropped the rocks where they were.
It was a lot of information to get all at once, but we've been back to a few areas, and learned more about the Burren in other places. Hope you think it's as cool as I do!!


  1. Great pictures!!!

    -Kim xoxo

  2. Today, Megan and I sat and moaned about you and discussed how green with envy we both are! I am loving following your Irish Adventure! Love, Melanie Wilson

  3. Hi Ms. Wilson!! Glad you're enjoying it. I still can't quite believe sometimes that I'm actually here!! It's been over a month, but I'm just not used to how beautiful EVERYTHING is!