We traveled deep into the Burren of county Clare on Wednesday, the 17th. The Burren is a very distinctive landscape of exposed rock, mostly limestone. Many plant species and wild flowers grow in the nooks between exposed plates, creating a gorgeous composition. Underneath the surface of the Burren, there are huge systems of undiscovered caves
and caverns. We got the chance to do some cave exploring ourselves.
Aillwee is one of the oldest caves in Ireland but was only opened to the public in the late 1970s, despite being discovered by a farmer chasing his dog in the 40s. According to our guide, Aillwee was used as an ancient bear den until the brown bear became extinct in Ireland. Indeed, there are still some bones on display from ten thousand and three thousand year old skeletons, and the nesting depressions in the earth from the bears still remain to this day. We only got to see a small section of the much larger system as unfortunately it is prone to flooding in some parts.
After the tour was over, we headed right next door to the Birds of Prey Centre. We were booked in to see a flying exhibition which was an incredible experience.
The separate handlers flew a Bateleur eagle, a Barn owl and a falcon for us. All three birds flew around the audience prompted by treats and lures. While showing off the birds’ skills, the handlers educated us on the habits and distinctions of the animals. A few of our students were given a chance to hold the magnificent creatures.
For our next stop in Clare was the Poulnabrone dolmen or portal tomb. While there are over a hundred other tombs on the Burren alone, this is one is famously known for its folklore tale that is associated. If you walk clockwise around the dolmen ten times, you are to be granted with the gift of fertility. Don’t worry parents, I completed the jaunt over seven years ago and no babies to speak of!
Because no Ireland trip would be complete without seeing the Cliffs of Moher, our next stop was this iconic destination. Despite the dreadful weather, the views from every angle are completely spectacular. We had a couple of hours to walk up and down the paved paths to O’Brien’s Tower. However, once we all had our fill of the views, we took respite from the wind and rain in the gift shop cafe.
At 4:30, we set off back for Galway. The kids had the rest of the night to make dinner and get much needed rest.