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In the heart of the Burren, sits the infamous Irish "hole of sorrows". It is a portal tomb that dates back to the Neolithic, approximately between 4,200 and 2,900 B.C.E. dolmen consists of a 12' tall, thin, slab-like tabular capstone supported by two slender portal stones. The construction creates a 9m low cairn chamber that has a north facing entrance. Excavations in the area uncovered between 16 and 22 adults with 6 children buried underneath the monument. Personal effects included a polished stone axe, a bone pendant, quartz crystals, weapons, and pottery. A later burial of a newborn baby was found in the portico just outside the entrance. This sacred space was most likely used for ceremonies and rituals as well as the burials.
Updated Nov 2, 2010
The East Clare Way is one of several long distance walking routes in Ireland. These routes are loop walks and can be broken up into day-hike sized sections. The idea is that you could hike all day and stay in a B&B at night.
Since I was staying locally, I arranged to be picked up at the end of each day and dropped off at the same point the next day. I completed about three sections of it, beginning with Killaloe to Broadford, Broadford to O'Callaghan's Mills, and then from Tulla, into Feakle, ending with a pint at Pepper's Bar. I was blown away by the things I saw, heard and even smelled!
The messiest bit was from Tulla to Feakle, as we had to cross an expanse of wet bog. All along the way there are places of interest, such as tombs, castles, churches and plant and wildlife, along with the tremendously varied terrain.
I highly recommend picking up a good map and guidebook. Not just to for planning your hike, but for appreciating all the amazing stuff you will be seeing. The map published by the East Clare Way Limited has a lot of good detail, including where you can expect to find food, drink, lodging and music.
Guidebooks can be found at:
Mid/East Clare Way Office
Ennis Tourist Office
Ennis Book Shop
Killaloe Tourist Office
Bane's Tourist Information Point Scariff
and online at the link below.
Updated Feb 17, 2010
Phone: +353 (065)6835912
O'Callaghan's Mills is home to two of my favorite pubs in Ireland. One of these is the BlackSticks. If you can find it you should drop in for a pint and experience an old-school country pub. The Blacksticks is small and spartan and the seating is limited to three benches along three walls in a sort of a horse shoe shape. There is no such thing as a private conversation here. You will only be a stranger for a few minutes because you can't help but converse with the people who are sitting so close by you. The floor is concrete and the bathrooms are outside, but I always feel really comfortable here. I've heard it argued that they pour the best pint of Guinness outside of Dublin. Of course, I've heard that argued many places.
While you're there, look on the wall for a picture of Biddy, the pub's former owner. According to history, Biddy used to doze off on the stool behind the bar, so if you wanted a pint, you would have to wake her up. Like many old pubs, the Blacksticks was also a general store of sorts where you could buy tea and bread and things like that, if you hadn't anything at home for your breakfast.
Pubs like this are dying out, as the exceptionally strict drunk driving laws are keeping people at home. When you see a place like this, drop in and give them some business. Hopefully they won't all disappear.
Make sure you call before visiting the 'Sticks, as they are open odd hours.
Updated Jan 18, 2010
If you want to get away from the crowded Cliffs of Moher then drive south along the coast towards Loop Head. This area is unfrequented compared to Moher, but is graced with natural beauty. The most outstanding natural feature on the trip down here are the Bridges of Ross. They are natural arches carved by the see. Several of them have collapsed, but some still remain. Use your own judgment in venturing out on these things. No railings and, most of the time, no one around to call for help. It's a nice spot for a picnic.
You can continue your drive south along the Loop Head Drive to the light house. The area feels very remote and you can breath in the atmosphere. There is much to see and do here, so a few hours up to a half day is appropriate.
DIRECTIONS:LoopHead is in the southwest of Clare. From the Cliffs, follow the most coastal roads. The r478 to the n67 will get you on your way.
NOTE: If you go there from the Cliffs of Moher, you pass through some cool villages: Lahinch, and Miltown Malbay.
The website below has some good info on the area.
Updated Oct 23, 2009
Near Dysert O'Dea castle is the beautiful ruin of O'Dea Church and round tower, as well as a massive high cross. Unlike O'Dea Castle, access to the church ruin is free. The castle is well preserved/restored, and is certainly worth a visit, but I enjoyed walking across the field, past the high cross to roam around the church ruins.
The church dates back to the 12th century and features a wonderfully detailed Roman archway. The high cross is located to the east of the church, and the ruin of the round tower is right next to the church.
Located off the R476, 5kms south od Corofin, 11kms north of Ennis
The link below has good directions to the cross and church.
Updated Mar 31, 2009
Tucked away in the village of Quin are the subtle ruins of Quin Friary. The friary was founded in 1480 on top of the ruins of a Norman castle. The ruin is surrounded by idyllic pasture and has a very peaceful sense to it. I've never known it to be flooded with tourists, so it's one of those spots where you can take your time and contemplate your surroundings. There is limited access to the inside of the friary. It's not a place to go way out of your way to get to, but if you are not far away, it's definitely worth a visit. At the time I write this, there is no fee to get into the grounds.
Also nearby is the ruin of St. Finghin's Church. It was built between 1278-1287.
Quin is a nice village, so you could stay for lunch in one of the pubs there, or pack a picnic.
Location: Quin, Co. Clare
Directions: It's right in the village center, set back from the road.
Written Dec 23, 2008
I came to this castle while hiking along the Kilgory Walk in O'Callaghan's Mills, East Clare. Teerovannan Castle is the beautiful ruin of what was a massive 17th century keep. It is located in the middle of a field to which I found easy access from the road. I was able to walk right up to the castle and could have walked within the walls, if I wasn't turned away by all the cow patties.
Teerovannan is crumbling gracefully. The inner stonework is masterfully done, and with sections of the wall missing, you can see the guts of the castle, with the exposed skeleton of a spiral staircase on one corner.
I created a google marker for this site below, as it is difficult for me to describe how to get there.
*Just a general warning: This isn't Disneyland. The castle is indeed slowly crumbling, so think twice before getting too close!
Updated Oct 24, 2008
Ennis is the largest town in the Burren with 16.000 inhabitants and it is well known for its plenty of great "Singing Pubs" and the beautiful shop-facades, like to be seen on my picture.
Ennis Friary is another good reason to go to Ennis - it dates back to the 13th century and you may still see great sculptures and tombs there. The friary is to be found in Abbey-street and it is open for visitors daily between may and september.
Next to the Friary you may see Cruise's Restaurant and Queen's Hotel - both of them are mentioned in James Joyce's novel Ulysses.
Written Sep 20, 2005
There is not only Poulnabrone Dolmen, BUT also another similar such construction next to the parking where you have a small space to park your car, when visiting Poulnabrone Dolmen. You simply have to step over the stone-wall and turn to the right instead of heading towards the much more famous Poulnabrone Dolmen.
The Dolmen in my picture looks less spectacular, but it reminds me a lot more of a tomb - Don't miss it, when you are in the Burren.
On my 2nd picture you may see my old motorhome, parked in the street, and - unfortunately quite dark - the other Dolmen in front.
Written Sep 20, 2005
Leamaneagh Castle is quite an impressive building in the south of the Burren. The castle dates back to the 17th century and is uninhabited today, in fact the ruins are in the middle of a meadow with lots of sheep and cows and you may not get any closer to the building. Leamaneagh Castle is more of a landmark today at the crossing of the roads R480 and R476 and you may use it when driving from Aillwee-cave in order to remember to turn right and drive to Kilfenora.
Leamaneagh Castle is about 5km east of Kilfenora and ca. 6km south of the Poulnabrone Dolmen.
Written Sep 20, 2005
4 Reviews and 250 Opinions This is the fantatsic restaurant at the Ballinalacken Hotel, also dueled as our wedding reception...