Sunday, January 25, 2009

County Clare, Ireland

So it's been a week but I've finally remember to do a write up on my trip to County Clare.  The bad is that since its been a week ... I forget most of what i should be writing.  I'll do my best though.

County Clare is south of Galway, on the Southwestern coast of Ireland.  The main stop on the tour is the famous Cliffs of Moher, where the island drops suddenly 1000 feet or so into the Atlantic Ocean.  Quite a sight.  

Contained within County Clare is the Burren, a vast area made entirely of Limestone.  This isn't that unusual, since the whole island is all limestone, however in the Burren, the limestone rises into huge mountains of stone and all the stone is exposed.  

Our trip also took us to the Aliwee caves.  Carved into the mountains of limestone by underwater rivers, the caves were first discovered by a farmer who chased his dog into one.  He continued to explore the entire length of the cave with just a candle and a string, while we learned from our tour guide, managing to break every single possible rule above caves.  Anyway, the reason these caves are so famous (there are many more cave formations in the Burren) is that remains were found in here that are some 3000 years old.  You'll notice one picture in the caves of the tour guide pointing to a hole in the cave floor.  That was where the bone of a European black bear were found.  Apparently the caves had been a hibernation spot for the bears, which haven't existed in Europe for over 2000 years or so.  There is also a underground river which was pretty cool but I didn't manage to get that good of a picture of it (I was in a cave ... )    Perhaps the most memorable part of the tour through the caves was when we reach the deepest point in the cave.  And the tour guide proceeds to turn off the spot light and his own light and asks everyone to turn off all cameras etc...  and you experience complete darkness.  I've never experienced the feeling of having my hand an inch from my eye and not seeing it.  I could feel my pupils dilating, growing bigger and smaller, desperate to find a small fraction of light.  But there is none.  It was remarkable.  And then, in what is probably the most enjoyable part of his job, the tour guide refuses to turn the lights back on.  For a long time.  Until about half the people were freaking out and yelling.  Oh and he also talked about how the only animals in the cave now were bats...    Mom i think we should take that tour when you visit?

So then we made our way to the cliffs.  We weren't allowed out of the bus without the warning that people die here ... alot.  Just a week ago someone fell off.  The combination of extremely high winds coming off the ocean and the desire to get the perfect picture, alot of people get a little greedy ... and a little dead.  SO anyway, don't worry mom i never hoped the barrier.  (Even though in his travel guide, Rick Steves tells you that you should.)  but regardless of how close i got to the edge, it was a pretty incredible sight.  

For anyone who thinks that small castle looks like a nice place to live, you might have a chance at it if your an O'brien.  The O'brien clan built that tower/castle on the edge of the cliff as both a look out but mostly as a way to show off the cliffs.  Anway, i think the pictures here came out well so enjoy them.

Thats all, sorry for the delay.



  1. Alex, Your pics are great. I can't wait to go in and visit that cave... Love, Mom

  2. Alex, Proud to be your tenth.Let's start the

    Love, Dad

  3. Bears: Hibernating in Hibernia?

    sorry, this class is terribly boring.

    Love, Kieran