We’ve just completed six nights in County Clare. Due to being busy having a wonderful time and poor internet we haven’t been able to update the blog.
On our last day on Prague we took a tour around the Old Town in replica Mercedes convertible. A fun way to see the place and get some insider tips. We found a market to get lunch and sat at a long table with all different people.
We had our first transport disruption trying to get to Prague airport that afternoon. As we were waiting on the Metro platform they announced that due to technical issues the metro had been suspended, so we had to work out a new route via the Tram and Airport Express bus. A little bit of running with our packs on but we got to the airport on time to find flight was delayed anyway!
After arriving at Dublin we drove directly to the house we had booked in County Clare at a golf course holiday village. This is now our best value accommodation, a low cost fully equipped apartment central to a number of places to visit.
Our stay in Ireland was magical due to all the activities we were able to do, the amazing scenery and the friendly people. Highlights were:
- Walking 1/2 a km into a mountain in the Aillwee Cave. This cave was found by a farmer looking for his dog in the 40s but he didn’t tell anyone about it until the 70s when it was explored further where they found remains of a now extinct brown bear. We were able to see a number of formations and a frozen watrfall created by the buildup of calcium deposits over thousands of years. At one point they turned off the lights so that we could experience true darkness. You couldn’t even see your hand right in front of your face.
- Portal tomb surrounded by fields of exposed limestone as a result of generations of deforestation and farming which has caused all the soil to wash away and expose the underlying limestone. The girls loved running across them skipping the gaps until one slipped in a gap and fell.
- The Cliffs of Mohor were spectacular – so high up from the crashing ocean directly below.
- Birr Castle, which is still privately owned and occupied by the Parson family who have contributed to science, engineering and the arts throughout the years had a huge parklike garden that we walked through including Ireland’s largest tree house which the girls loved. It is also home to the great telescope built by the Parson family back in 1840s. It has been recently restored and is operational.
- Blarney Castle was a brilliant day trip. There is a lot more there than the Blarney Stone. We did climb to the top of the castle – the girls really enjoyed the “ruins” state of it after all the renovated/complete castles we have visited to date. We enjoyed watching other people lie backwards to kiss the stone but were not tempted to do it ourselves. We also enjoyed the Rock Close, the Poisonous Garden, the Lime Kilm, the fernery and this amazing tree that had two low lying branches – great for climbing (see photos).
- At Bunratty Castle and Folk Park we were able to see an old Irish village and a number of different homes (either reconstructed or moved to the site or built there) from the peasant to the labourer, farmer and gentry. At the peasant house, the doctor’s clinic and the school they had retired men role playing to explain the history which brought the exhibit to life. Also here was a fairy garden in a woodland area with all these beautiful fairy doors and houses attached to trees and on mounds. The girls were running from tree to tree so excited and finding all sorts of fun details.
- At Bunratty we attened a traditional Irish dinner and music evening. The food was good but not amazing, however the Irish dancing and music was fantastic and told the story of disease, famine and emmigation. The girls loved it. We sat with two American couples who were lots of fun – they had been to other music nights in their trip and said this was the best they’d seen.
- We also did a river cruise from Killaloe. It was a nice cruise but in terms of value, all the other activities were far better.
Here are some photos from my phone of our time in Ireland.