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Ireland Day 12: Moher To See

overcast 64 °F

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We started the day by driving to the city center and finding a parking garage. We went to the Claddagh Jewelry shop and got a Claddagh ring for Catherine. While Daniel had purchased other jewelry for Catherine when he was living here, for some reason he hadn't gotten her a Claddagh. We got one today.
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Then had a delicious lunch at Busker Brown's before heading to Co. Clare.
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On our way to Liscannor, where we were staying, we stopped at Dunguaire Castle, which is a restored castle that can be toured. It was built in the 16th Century and is a fascinating thing to be able to see. It is really more of a "tower house" than a castle, as it was not really intended as a strong fortress but more as a fortified home.
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Some pictures inside the castle. The different floors are arranged to show different eras: the 17th century is depicted by the banquet hall, and the 20th century (when an Englishwoman restored the castle as her home) is depicted in the top floor. The castle hosts a "medieval banquet" which the staff was preparing when we were there.
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The passages on top are very narrow and difficult to get through.
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But there are beautiful views from the top once you get out there.
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Us at the top of the castle.
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More views from the top.
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More pictures from outside.
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The burren, a barren landscape of limestone in Co. Clare. It is strikingly different from the landscape of the surrounding area, and seems to lend itself to the preservation of ancient sites, or at least make them more obviously visible.
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Yes, it seems like something you would see on a postcard from a rural area: "Co. Clare Traffic Jam" with a picture of cows walking down the road. And yet, it happened to us in real life. These were dairy cows being taken to be milked, it would seem. We only had to wait a little: the farmers moved the cows fairly quickly. Of course, it was a frightening experience for Catherine after her run-in with the calf the day before.
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Some pictures in Liscannor, where we stayed. Our hosts there also owned a pub, and they have a house across the street from it. We drove to the pub, and our host had us follower her to the house and checked us in. It was a wonderfully comfortable room, and our host recommended that we go to the Cliffs of Moher (which were right next to the house and pub) after 9PM so that we wouldn't have to pay to park. We decided to go to the village for dinner, then go to the cliff.
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Dinner in Liscannor before going to the cliffs.
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The O'Brien Monument in Liscannor, right near the pub. This was constructed to honor Cornelius O'Brien, who was a well-liked landowner in the area despite being part of the British power structure (the O'Brien family has an interesting history: they are descended from Brian Boru, and are thus native Gaelic nobility, but the senior heirs of the family embraced Anglicanism and fought for the English and against various rebellions by other Gaelic nobles like the O'Neills and O'Donnells). Cornelius, however, was known for building projects and other well-regarded projects in the area.
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St. Brigid's well is right next to the O'Brien monument. It is unlike any of the other holy wells we have visited on this trip: less "polished" than St. Catherine's in Killybegs, but far more trafficked than St. Dymphna's and the others. There were rocks that people had written "thank yous" to St. Brigid, and a statue in a glass box.
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The upper shrine. There is a graveyard hear, as well as some more small objects that seem to have been left by people frequenting the wells. There were also ribbons tied to the trees, which apparently are left by people who have prayed for something there.
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The really numinous part of it is the lower shrine, where there is a tunnel leading to the well. The inside has all manner of offerings: statues, cards with prayers written on them, funeral Mass cards, missing person reports, stuffed animals, candles, rosaries, scapulars, icons, photographs, etc. It was an amazing thing to see, and a testament to belief in another plane of existence beyond the world we see around us. Most striking were the "thank you" notes: letters detailing how St. Brigid helped a person. Really a small, easily-missed thing but one of the most intriguing places we saw on the trip.
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Then, it was time to see the cliffs. The parking lot was now closed, which meant that we could park for free and walk to the cliffs. Unfortunately, it meant that all of the visitors' center buildings were closed, including the tiny "meditation room" which Catherine pointed out should probably be unnecessary, considering that a person who wants to meditate about the cliffs should probably do that...at the cliffs, and not in a tiny windowless room sort of near the cliffs.
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There's not much to say about the cliffs. They are stunningly beautiful, and the pictures sort of speak for themselves. It was nice seeing them in the semi-darkness: no crowds, and the light seemed perfect. Since they are on the west coast it was a beautiful sunset and a great way to spend the evening.
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More views of the cliffs as night fell. It was an incredibly peaceful night: we were the last to leave the cliffs as far as we could tell.
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More of the cliffs after dark.
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The twinkling lights of the village.
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A drink at Considine's Bar, across from our AirBnB and owned by our hosts. It was a nice, small pub, not too packed but not empty. There is a house attached, but the Considines no longer live there, and apparently use it for storage, etc. The house where we are staying is rather new, having been built around six years ago. We loved our stay in Liscannor and would highly recommend it to other people staying in the area.

Posted by danielcatherine 00:37 Archived in Ireland Tagged cliffs village meditation pub beautiful castle farm cows burren clare moher the_cliffs_are_closed st._brigid o'briens considine traffic_jam dunguaire_castle Comments (0)

Ireland Day 4: O'Donnell Abu!

(the title is also the name of a great song. And, our day started at Donegal Castle and ended at a Middle Eastern restaurant 😀)

storm 55 °F

We had a wonderful night's sleep at our B&B in Mountcharles. It was extremely comfortable and restful. When we got up, there was a delicious breakfast ready for us: brown bread and toast and tea. We had a very nice chat with our host, ranging from Irish history to modern politics to her surprise that the Americans staying in her house all seem to prefer tea to coffee. She gave us a detailed route to follow, along the "wild and rocky hills" (another lyric from another great Donegal-focused song) up the Wild Atlantic Way. We began by going to Donegal Town.
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We found a place to park in Donegal Town. It overlooked this harbor, where the boat in the picture was blasting Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love." It proceeded to blast other songs of like nature. The machine did not take cards so we had to get cash. The tourist office had a sign that prominently displayed that they do not change money for the parking lot. So, Daniel walked to a bank (AIB) on the Diamond, or main square of Donegal.
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Donegal Castle is really an amazing thing to see.
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According to the cashier at the castle, the Choctaw Nation donated to the Irish during the Famine. This led to connections between them and the Irish.
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Some more images of the Castle. The empty manor house area was built by the Brookes family after the Flight of Earls.
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The Diamond in Donegal. It is sort of a roundabout, sort of a death trap.
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The Catholic Church in Donegal. It has a replica Irish Round Tower.
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Killybegs Harbor. Killybegs is one of the major commercial fishing ports in Ireland. The ships are really impressive to see.
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Outside Killybegs is St. Catherine's well, one of Ireland's many holy wells. These have small sources of water and involve specific prayers that should be said. Catherine had not seen a holy well before, and she was especially interested because this one was St. Catherine's.
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For some reason, there are stuffed animals tied to many signposts and fences throughout Co. Donegal.
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The Wild Atlantic Way: the beautiful coast of Donegal.
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Sheep in the road.
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While driving through the small village of Glencolmcille, we saw signs for St. Colmcille (Columba)'s well. We decided to take the hike up to see it. We left our car near a farmhouse and began walking up the path. It was lightly misting and the sun was high in the sky. We continued up from a gate that had signs pointing towards then well. We never found the well. The hike was quite long and went through empty, desolate bogland. The storm begin to get worse, soaking us and blowing rain in our faces. We kept going. We would walk to the next trail marker and see the next on up another ridge. Eventually, Daniel said he thought it wasn't safe to continue and we started to turn back. However, we decided to go to one more marker. Daniel got there before Catherine: there was a castle up ahead. Catherine caught up and we looked at the castle together. It was beautiful but slightly creepy. The storm was so bad we had to turn back. We wish we could have seen the well, but we had a great time nonetheless. Side note: while Catherine was hiking to catch up with Daniel who had gone slightly ahead she jumped over a little patch of mud. The grassy area she landed on was more mud than grass and she found herself knee deep in a bog. She barely escaped with her shoes. We thought this accidental adventure led to one of the best days of our lives. Just the two of us on a desolate hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with unbelievable views.
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Some pictures of the hike. Can you believe we were all the way up there?
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It's a whole different muscle group going down.
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"Climb to Colmcille's Well they said. It will be fun they said."
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We were so happy to find our cozy car again and get the heater working. We had a wonderful adventure.

We wanted to stop and eat at a pub in Glencolmcille. Unfortunately, they all look were closed. We tried the next village, Carrick, and they were also closed. In Killybegs most places were closed as well. We ended up getting a pizza to go from a small Middle Eastern restaurant, then going back to eat in the parking lot of St. Catherine's well. We had a wonderful day, and we can't wait until tomorrow when we go to Kilkelly to see Daniel's cousins.

Posted by danielcatherine 16:50 Archived in Ireland Tagged church towers castle pizza round glencolmcille colmcille. columba killybegs donegall o'domnell holy_wells Comments (2)

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