County Sligo, Ireland

Saturday, May 19, 2012: Carrowmore

The highlight of our drive from Galway in the central west of Ireland to Buncrana on the Inishowen Peninsula in the north of Ireland and just to the west of Northern Ireland was definitely the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery near Sligo. To think that we nearly skipped this when our GPS steered us wrong! We saw road signs a little later and followed them to the correct destination. What we found was powerful. Acres of megalithic stone circles, passage tombs, and large cairns on mountaintops. Some of them were on public land and many others were in private pastures.

You can find photos of the self tour guide here and here if you are interested in reading more.

The next two photos are of a large stone circle bisected by a fence, so part of it is on private land.

Above: another wildflower photographer. The pony kept interfering because he wanted a snack. This is what he was trying to photograph:

And since we’re on the subject of wildflowers:

Note the cairn on top of the mountain in the distance is lined up with the passage into this tomb. This is Tomb 7 in the literature – the most well preserved and beautiful of the circles and tombs we saw, and you had to step carefully to avoid the cow patties.

We made stops in Knock (a religious shrine disturbing for the amount of plastic paraphernalia for sale along its main street) and Letterkenny (where we saw the work of a great Irish artist (name to be updated) and it would be worth making another trip to visit the Glebe House and Gallery) but Carrowmore left our minds full of wonder.

Next post: Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, 2012: Buncrana

Ireland

Friday, May 18, 2012: The Burren and Cliffs

The best place on the bus tour was the Burren. I didn’t expect that. What a wonderful weird wild landscape, with its sad, usually pointless stone “famine walls,” that the starving Irish people were forced to build as a means of getting a little to eat from the British landowners during the Great Hunger. I’ve stopped calling it the Potato Famine, because even though a potato blight ruined the potato crop for three years, Ireland was actually an exporter of wheat during this time. The Irish starved because the English aristocracy simply did not care what happened to them, not because of the potato blight. A good photo of a famine wall is on this webpage about the stone walls of Ireland.

One of the most famous dolmen tombs is Poulnabrone in the Burren, from the neolithic era. The limestone formations and wildflowers growing in the winding trenches (like mini-slot canyons) were fascinating too. I could have played here for hours.

And of course, we visited the famous Cliffs of Moher. Although magnificent, I felt the experience suffered from the crowds of tourists and safeguards and large visitor’s center with its shops selling the usual tourist junk. It didn’t seem quite real to me after getting up close and personal with the cliffs in Ballydavid.

We stopped for a mid-afternoon lunch at a pub and then on the way back, stopped at the “baby cliffs” of Clare, which I found much more to my liking, because it was cliffs in the Burren. That’s a grand combination.

Next post – Friday, May 18, 2012: Galway