Monday, September 21, 2009

Ballybunnion and the Cliffs of Moher

On our last day in Ireland we headed north from Tralee. Out in the middle of a wheat field is the magnificant Rattoo Round Tower built around 1100. It is exceptionally well preserved although the roof was restored in about 1870 to repair lightning strike damage over the centuries.

This is an abbey on the same site built around 1200.

There is a church ruins dating to the 15th century and graveyard next to the tower. During the 19th century roof repair a Sheela-na-gig was discovered inside the tower. If you don't want to be shocked by the somewhat x-rated depictions and descriptions of a Sheela-na-gig then don't click on the attached link.

Now that you are well versed in Sheela-na-gig we can move on.

From the Round Tower we headed to Ballybunnion. This seaside town has its own cliffs and beach. They also have a surfing school there. The students weren't very good and I got tired of waiting for one to catch a wave in front of the cliffs so I gave up.

The waves have undercut the shore line in a few places and created these holes.

Here are Bob, Sue, Mary Frances, Margot and I in Ballybunnion. Once we completed our cliff walk we said goodbye to M.F. and Dana and thanked them for being such wonderful hosts during our time in Ireland. They headed back to their normal life in Tralee and we headed toward County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher.

We took this ferry across the Shannon River estuary from Tarbert.

It was a nice day for sailing or almost any pursuit.

These cattle were grazing along the river in front of a church ruin and graveyard. My guess is that the scenery is lost on them. They seem to have their heads down all the time.

I think the name of this town is Kilrush. We stopped for lunch here.

This is the inside of the pub we chose for lunch. The decor hasn't changed since about 1913 the waiter said. The sheaves of paper hanging in the window are invoices for each barrel of Guinness delivered over some period.

From Kilrush we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. This is allegedly the most visited tourist site in Ireland and I believe it. Think Yellowstone in July. Great hordes of people even a little later in the afternoon after most of the tour buses had left.

It is hard to get a sense of scale but they max out at over 700 ft above the sea.

Here are some cattle grazing next to the park. Some are pretty wooly. Crossed with a sheep?

To get the really good pictures you have to be bold.

Here is a view looking back toward O'Brien's tower. The local landlord built this in 1835 as an observation tower for Victorian era tourists. For perspective, notice the people in the upper right hand corner.

There are a couple of things I won't do for a great photograph and that includes lying down at the cliff's edge and holding my camera out over the edge!

After we left the cliffs we headed toward Doolin. We think this tower may have been converted into a B&B. How cool would that be? From here we headed toward Shannon in anticipation of our early morning flight.

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