The Burren

I am going to warn you right now that this post is not going to have a huge plethora of pictures because this was the trip where my camera decided it had led a nice, healthy life of two years seeing more sights and suffering more abuse than most people do in a lifetime, and died. (The people at the camera store in Galway suggested a grain of sand got into it awhile back and finally got dislodged, which is possible considering how loose the casing had gotten.) So RIP camera, may your new younger brother survive 18 new countries and 25 more states.  And so may I, come to think of it…
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To begin with here is a picture of what most of The Burren looks like- limestone.  Lots and lots of limestone.  When you go close to the ocean then yes, you get fertile fields for pasture thanks to the backbreaking labor of farmers in years past, but go up to the top and it looks desolate in a lovely kind of way.

Interestingly enough it is said that during the time of the Celts this would have been pine forest- in subsequent years however the trees were unfortunately chopped down and the topsoil eroded away.  Certainly a very different picture.image502

Go around the Burren long enough and you start noticing these things- a Celtic tomb!image503

Another view of the same tomb.  This one happens to be the oldest in the Burren, dated to  approximately 3500 B.C., or a thousand years before the pyramids.  Which naturally led to me wondering just what we’ve erected that will still be  standing in 5,000 years…

One interesting factoid is that some of the people buried here were buried over 2,000 years after the tomb was built.  Leading to another interesting point- wouldn’t it be an interesting thing to see someone buried in a 2,000 year old tomb?  Mainly because I can’t think of any of that age, let alone ones where they still bury people?  It’s funny how details like  this leave me happily wondering for hours.
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What most people come to see in The Burren- the Cliffs of Moher!  To quote my sister, it sounds like something straight out of Lord of the Rings and frankly they’d fit right into the scenery, as these things rise up about 200 meters from the Atlantic in an incredibly dramatic fashion.

By the way, my camera was dead by this point so this and the following picture were actually taken with a Hong Kong student’s camera, who understood why I wanted to temporarily borrow his camera with my memory card.  Someone later pointed out to me it would be an interesting trip in itself to go out with a memory card alone and borrow other people’s cameras along the way, but I don’t think I would recommend it.  Frankly there is no universal standard for memory card size so you’d often be out of luck even if you met friendly people, and odds are anyone over the age of 30 won’t understand your request and/or get suspicious.  So it goes.
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My second Cliffs of Moher picture, which I am primarily using to show how windy it was as evidenced by the disarray of my hair.  It was  windy like I’d hardly experienced before, as the wind here has been happily going for several thousand miles without running into anything before it comes to the Cliffs.  It switches around quickly too, so that I’m told a few tourists die every year by falling off the Cliffs and, I presume, stupidly standing closer than the indicated signs.

I admit I discovered a fun game while at the Cliffs (behind the walled portion of course) called “jump into the air and marvel at how far the wind carries you before you land.”  You’d think this wouldn’t be particularly exciting, but somehow it is when the minimum distance you’re carried is a foot.  Needless to say I got a few odd looks and interesting comments from passing Hungarians I returned with a “koszi!”  Good thing I left my sense of dignity at home, I’d never have fun with it around.image507

This pub is in the village of Lisdoonarva where I spent the night at a great hostel- I didn’t realize it until I arrived but the town hosts the Matchmaker Festival, Europe’s biggest singles event, where people arrive from all over in hopes of finding The One.  No idea what the success rate is of that, but there you go.

So those are where the pictures end, and my memory goes on.  There are lots of beautiful walks around Lisdoonarva and the hostel had a great lounge where we curled up beside the fireplace  for the night, but after the night I returned to Galway an hour away.  If you come to Ireland though I highly recommend seeking out a little village or two to stay in hardly mentioned by anyone to see what it’s like.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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