The first stop on the Cliffs of Moher and Burren tour was at Dunguaire Castle. Dunguaire Castle is not in County Clare, but in County Galway.
Dunguaire is a small castle built around 1520 by the O’Hynes clan. In the end of February it was closed, but between May – October you can visit the interior. For that there is an admission. The castle has got a scenic location and we got 15 minutes to walk around and take some photos. On the way back to Galway we also made a short stop but only to take photos from the road. As the tide was high then we got photos of the castle with water in front of it.
Ballyvaughan is a village in the north western corner of the Burren. It is situated on the south shores of Galway Bay and lots of tourists pass here on their way to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher. We made a short stop at a pub in Ballyvaughan so that people who wanted could use the bathroom. We were also encouraged to buy something to drink, or a snack, in the pub. The bus driver said it was okay to bring back coffee on the bus as long as the cup had a lid on it.
Our next stop was at Ballyalban Earthen Ring Fort, a circular structure with earth banks. Those earthen rings were often topped by a wooden palisade in old times. Sometimes they are referred to as Fairy forts. We only got around 5 minutes here, just enough time to take a walk around the circle.
We made a 15 minutes stop at Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of many Neolithic toms that can be found in the area. The tomb is more than 5000 years old and when it was excavated in 1986 the remains of 33 people were found, together with pottery, a stone axe, stone beads, arrow heads and more.
The surrounding limestone landscape is also very interesting.
Kilfenora is a small village with the ruins of a very small cathedral from the 12th century. Already in the 6th century a monastery was founded on the place where the ruined cathedral stands. Once Kilfenora was an important place for pilgrims, but now it is known for its high crosses.
There are three high crosses in the church yard, protected under roof. One of them is the Doorty Cross which is 800 years old. We got around 10 minutes to visit this place, but we were not told that in a nearby field, about 100 metres away, there is another high cross.
In the chancel there are two medieval tombs with carved figures on top. In one of them an unknown bishop is buried and in the other one a nobleman or cleric.
During the tour to Cliffs of Moher we stopped at a pub in Doolin to eat lunch. The pub was Gus O’Connors Pub and it was very busy as we arrived but we all seemed to find a table anyway. Before leaving the bus we had been told to take a seat, look at the menu, remember the number on the table and then order and pay at the bar. I ordered a beef and Guinness stew for 10 Euro (February 2013). It came with a piece of bread and butter and tasted okay.
We had 45 minutes for this stop, but they had been very effective in the pub with serving the food so the whole bus was ready in time.
Cliffs of Moher is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland and it is easy to understand why. It is a spectacular sight to see the high steep cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean. At the highest point the cliffs are 214m.
I had hoped to go here independently and to hike along the coast for some hours, but unfortunately the bus connection between Galway and Cliffs of Moher was not god on a Monday in the end of February, so I ended up on an organized day tour instead. The promised 2h at the cliffs turned out to be 1h 15min, so not much time for hiking. When leaving the bus I went straight up to O Brian’s Tower, a round stone tower from the 19th century from where there are good views over the cliffs. There was an admission of 2 Euro to enter so I skipped it and walked back to follow the path above the cliffs to the south instead. In the beginning of the trail a new path has been constructed next to the old one, which is closer to the cliff edge, and between them there is a stonewall. A bit further away there is no stonewall and the path goes quite close to the edge. Unfortunately I had too little time to hike all the way to Hag’s Head.
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre is situated next to the car park. It is mainly an underground building in the hillside and it blends in very well with the surroundings. In the visitor centre there is a gift shop, bathrooms and two cafés. There is also an exhibition, The Edge. The exhibition is about the cliffs and is shown with four thems; ocean, rock, animal and man. The Ledge is an audiovisual theatre.
I came to Cliffs of Moher on a daytour from Galway and in the price of the tour a ticket for the visitor centre was included (6 Euro in February 2013). As it was a sunny day, though cold, and as we didn’t have more than 1h and 15min at the cliffs I was not interested in spending time inside. Only on the way back to the bus did I go inside for two minutes to have a quick look. To visit the cliffs doesn’t cost anything.
After visiting the Cliffs of Moher we drove along the coastal road on the way back to Galway. North of Doolin we made a stop at the cliffs of Ballyreen. The cliffs are not as high here as they are at Cliffs of Moher but it is a beautiful place. When we visited the sea was calm, but I can imagine that it is quite spectacular when the sea is rough and high waves hit the rocks.
Situated in County Clare the cliffs of Moher are spectuclar cliffs that rise up to 213 meters and a range of 8 kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of Co Claire. From the clifts you can see The Aran Islands, Galway Bay as well as the 12 Pins and the Maum Turk mountains. Take a walk up to the O'Brien's Castle for a better view. Since this place has become so busy with tourists you will never find a time when your on your own. A huge car park caters for the hundreds of buses that stop off. In the last year the local council have built a cafe along with the usual over prices shops for your to spend your money. I loved this place years ago, before the tour buses arrived. Still its a great place to view one of the most spectular sites in Ireland. Admission is six euro just for the the cliffs but does include the Visitor centre and the Exhibition. Students get a discount but you have to produce your card. If you want to visit the castle it will cost you another 2 Euro. Revenue is generated through admission to cover costs and improve facilities.
Dysert O’Dea Castle: This was the first stop my family made after arriving. We found the car park area and saw the castle part, then walked through a field to get to the church and watchtower remains. It was a great first site to see since it had so much in one place.
The Craggaunowen is a detailed recreation of an ancient Celtic settlement on 50 acres of wooded park. The coolest thing here is the crannóg, a fascinating arrangement of huts on a small island with a defensive stockade and draw bridge. There are replicas of artifacts that evoke the daily lives of people that made this place their home over a thousand years ago.
Though the crannóg is the highlight of Craggaunowen, there is also a earthen ring fort, a medieval castle, a fine dolmen and of course, the famed replica of the boat that the Irish claim St. Brendan sailed to America hundreds of years before Columbus (decide for yourself ;)
This is a really interesting place to visit, as there is tons to learn about. It's great for kids.
This outdoor museum is well worth a half-day visit with the family. Also, see the other tip about Tim Severin's boat, The Brendan, also located here. From the web site listed below:
"Craggaunowen 'The Living Past' tells the story of the arrival of the Celts in Ireland and the many changes they wrought upon daily life. Their impact is evidenced in the creation of new tribal lake dwellings, farming and hunting methods which are explained by the costumed animators.
"A major feature of the visit, is a Crannog (meaning 'young tree’) which is a reconstructed lake-dwelling of a type found in Ireland during the Iron Age and Early Christian periods. Though some homesteads were inhabited during the Late Bronze Age and in some cases, were still being occupied as late as the 17th century.
"The site also includes a Ring Fort, a true reproduction of a farmer's house, dating from the 4th or 5th century, an 'Iron Age Roadway' and an outdoor cooking site."
See the other tip about the The Craggaunowen Project, where this boat is located. Also see the attached travelogue for more photos and text from the exhibit. From the web site listed below:
"Another important attraction is the 'Brendan Boat', the hide boat in which Tim Severin sailed from Ireland to the United States, re-enacting the Voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator, reputed to have discovered America centuries before Columbus.
"St. Brendan the Navigator (who died c. 583 AD.) was, according to a 9th century manuscript, The Navigacio, the first man to discover the 'Promised Land' across the Atlantic. This place he called High Basil and first came to him a dream.
"In 1976 Tim Severin, a modern day explorer, built a leather-hulled boat based on the vessel described in the manuscript, and on the Currach still used on Ireland's West Coast. He and his crew then made the voyage with stops on the Aran Islands, in Donegal, the Hebrides and in the Faroes, over-wintering in Iceland, and proved it was possible for St. Brendan to have made the voyage to America in such a craft.
"The actual boat used in this endeavour is on display in a specially constructed glass boathouse, reminiscent of a glacier – freezing the boat in timeless perpetuity."
Bunratty castle is one of the major attractions for tourbuses, just a few miles off the airport of Shannon. The castle dates back to the 9th century but the way it looks today dates back to the 15th century.
Bunratty really offers a lot for the hasty tourists, who want to "absorbe the Irish way of life" within the shortest time possible :
In Bunratty castle they may attend a "Medieval Irish Banquet" with servants in historic costumes, live music , food and drinks, all is included in the price...
The performances will take 2 and a half hours
the hall offers 141 seats and 2 sittings : at 05.30p.m. + 08.46 p.m.
There is also a "Traditional Irish Night" in Bunratty
From April till October daily at 7.00p.m
This is the fantatsic restaurant at the Ballinalacken Hotel, also dueled as our wedding reception...more
North of Tully, Renvyle, Connemara, Ireland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
Bunratty Village, Bunratty, County Clare, Ireland
Good for: Business