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Published: January 9th 2011
After breaky we decided to go on a tour of the Burren. Neither of us exactly sure what to expect and perhaps both feeling a little lazy we were happy for someone else to lead.We got some excellent directions and Kilfonora Hostel kindly offered to ring ahead just in case we were a few minutes late. We arrived with a minute or two to spare and John our leader was expecting us. He was also waiting for a tour bus so we checked out the photo’s by the fire in his beautifully decorated Grandma’s house. Once another (large) tour group arrived we set off through John’s family farm and up into the Burren. The Burren as it turns out is the name given to the entire region because of the limestone hills or in Gaelic 'rocky country'. Which makes it one of Ireland's driest regions not for the lack of rainfall (as it begins drizzling) but because the rain is quickly absorbed into the rock and into underground river system. John pointed out the remains of churches, the stone fences not used to segregate peoples property but built under instruction on the English to keep the Irish busy without
allowing them to built infrastructure… cunning hey. John pointed out the native plants and flowers (having just missed the peak wild flower season.. again). The ‘worry tree’ an ancient (and dying) tradition where cloths are tied to a tree to symbolize leaving the worry there. It was at this point the clouds unleashed and it bucketed down (sideways) for a good five minutes whilst we climbed to the peak of John’s property and along the cattle route which they use to move their cattle into the highlands during winter.
We returned to the homestead slightly wetter admiring the five day old calf and his two springer spaniels on the way. Back at farmhouse we tucked into some homemade apple pie and freshly whipped cream. A nice walk but not exactly as must do!
We hit the road again stopping in Galway for a wander through its streets pumping with musicians and performers, a local market and lots of people. We grabbed some lunch before hitting the road again bound for Donegal disappointed we hadn't allowed more time to explore. We booked a room at hostel (its name we've regretfully forgotten) despite our hosts hesitation that we would make it
by five, we did, even with a unnecessary detour though the new Galway tunnel and arrived at our lovely hostel with stunning views of the Donegal bay. We whipped up a quick dinner and headed into town in search of some traditional dancing but instead we did a mini pub crawl. First pub, entering it we doubled its clientele but enjoyed a chat with the publican, second pub was packed shoulder to shoulder with... blokes, lastly we found a awesome acoustic band and sat back with a pint and relaxed… whilst no traditional dancing it was a great night.
After breaky we hit the road for Slieve League managing to beat the tourist buses and hikers we had the place to ourselves for most of the time. We climbed up the rocks for some spectacular views of the cliffs on the edge of the ocean just hoping the last of the clouds would roll away. We watched as some guy mysteriously stashing a package in a small cave in the rocks and we decided it was best to leave just in case… we didn’t want anything to do with it!
We stopped in the town of Donegal for
a coffee and waffle style pancakes! And carried on through the sleeping Sunday countryside to meet Karl and Martha for a late lunch at the carvery (who you may remember from previous blogs). They continued on their way back to Dublin and us to Belfast as it pissed down rain!!.
We checked into Kate’s B & B a gorgeous little building traditionally decorated with the most helpful host as we were bundled up to our loft bedroom for a cup of tea, with a map and basket of fruit in hand.
Dried off we met up with Kane and Jane-Maree from uni for dinner at the Crown Hotel one of Belfast’s oldest Saloon bars.
After a full Irish breaky we picked up Kane and Jane and set off for the Giants Causeway. Nearly two hours later we arrived to overcast and wintry conditions. We walked along the path, passing the boot, organ among other slightly ambiguous rock formations.
With the rain starting to settle in we took the bus back to the car park with an entertaining tour guide, with too many scripted jokes, an near mishap as one gentleman’s wheel chair brakes didn’t quite hold all
within a km but well worth the euro.
Next stop was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge which joins the tiny island of Carrick-a-rede with the mainland. We soon discovered Kane's fear of heights. We did our best to help (or hinder) his fear of heights shaking the shit out of the tiny rope bridge a mere 25m above the thrashing waves below. After a wander round the tiny island (poor Kane had to make his way back!) we headed into town pub to dry off by the open fire over some fish and chips.
We returned to Belfast along the lush green countryside, where we left Kane and Jane to go off and explore Belfast on foot. We stopped for a for a geezer at the City Hall wandered through the streets stopping for a bit of window shopping.
We met back to met Kane and Jane-Maree who cooked us a lovely dinner and chatted the night away over a bottle of red.
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