Tag Archives: county clare

Co. Clare::Kilkee & Loop Head — Day 12

structure near Doonbeg pier

A structure near Doonbeg pier

This morning we had a late start because an electrician stopped by to fix the hot water. While he worked, he chatted about his visits to the States, including a visit during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

After the electrician left we drove into Doonbeg to see if anyone sold fish. I’d read that one could buy fish from fishermen who landed at the pier. We walked out on the pier, but didn’t see any fishermen. It was just as well because we wouldn’t know what to do with a fish that hadn’t been gutted and skinned.

Fishing boat

Irish Fishing boat

While we saw no fishermen in their boats, we did see some fishing boats that reminded us of the boats from The Secret of Roan Inish.

Clare on the beach

Clare on the beach

After Doonbeg we drove down the coast to a town called Kilkee. We’d seen it when we first got to County Clare. It seemed like a crowded and tacky holiday town — a place I’d wanted to avoid. I was hoping to spend only an hour or so there, but after taking a walk along the sheltered, but dirty beach Dean and the kids found some rocks on which to climb on. They got dangerously close to the sea while huge waves crashed just below them. Clare and Andrew also found holes in the rocks and climbed into them. The crashing waves were a beautiful turquoise color.

Andrew at Kilkee

Andrew at Kilkee

Had I researched the town before visiting, I may have forgiven its current appearance had I known more about it. It was a Victorian seaside resort and had been visited by several famous people including Che Guevara and Charlotte Bronte. Richard Harris owned a house there as well.

Fishermen along the Loop Head coastal route

Fishermen along the Loop Head coastal route

After an expensive and disappointing lunch (at a bar that claimed to have lodged Che Guevara) we drove along a route called Loop Head. The views from many points along this route were spectacular, and in my opinion, were more impressive than the Cliffs of Moher.  Of course the kids had to push the limits and get close to the edges of the sea cliffs.

Memorial to a man who fell off the cliff

Memorial to a man who fell off the cliff

On one spot we saw a lot of people with fishing rods walking over a hill. I kept to the inside, away from the edges of the cliffs, but Dean and the kids took a more dangerous route near the fishermen. I went back to the car which was parked next to a comforting memorial to a man who fell off the cliff. While I waited for my family to return, I wondered if I’d put a memorial up for them or not. I also wondered how I’d get back to civilization since I had no idea how to drive the car. I was very happy to see them when they finally did come back away from the edge of the cliffs.

Gulls

Gulls

The route takes you to a lighthouse (that it seems you can rent). I’d heard the birds were interesting by the lighthouse, so I made sure to have my binoculars handy. I didn’t see any unusual birds, but there were a lot of them.

Loop Head isn’t that far of a drive, but the roads are so small it takes a long time to complete.  We were ready to go back to our cottage and play some more games and have an easy meal of spaghetti.

More Day 12 photographs on Flickr.

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Co. Clare::The Cliffs of Moher — Day 11

Gold building in burial ground near Parkduff Cottage

Gold building in burial ground near Parkduff Cottage

This morning we decided as the sun was peeking out a bit, we should visit the Cliffs of Moher, but before we visited the cliffs we paid a visit to a nearby burial ground. Graveyards are striking here — old Celtic crosses and usually a building, often in ruins share a bit of land with newer gravestones — some of which have photographs on them. The one we visited had all three and was worth the visit.

Traffic jam

Traffic jam

On the way to the cliffs, along the coastal route we were stopped at a hairpin turn behind a tour bus that slowly made the turn and ended up in the opposite lane. I wondered aloud what would happen if two tour buses met on a curve like that when an articulated lorry came from the other way. I found out what happened when one unmovable force met another unmovable force — traffic jam!

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland’s leading tourist attractions. Dean and I had been there before — in 1985 when we toured Europe for our honeymoon. I recall not being terribly impressed with them — Dean said perhaps I was jaded from the tour bus ride. Dean remembers being scared when we visited, fearing someone would fall over the side.

The 3 ones at the Cliffs of Moher

The attraction is much different now than it was 23 years ago. A visitor’s center has been built into the hill so you don’t really notice it until you’re right next to it. It is quite tastefully done, and possibly the most interesting thing about the attraction. Safety walls have been built up so one would really have to work to fall off the cliffs. Steps and ramps have also been built.

Clare's fairy house with my washing in the background

We snapped a few photos of the cliffs, etc. and toured the visitor’s center. I wish I could say it was worth the time and money spent, but I really can’t. Andrew was a little disappointed I was not excited, but in all honesty, I think he liked the visitor’s center best anyway with its interactive exhibits.

Dona cooking dinner

When we returned home I did some laundry. Irish washing machines are different than the machines I’m used to in the States. For one thing, the washer and dryer are often the same machine. For another, the clothes don’t actually get dry. I guess, if you keep drying the clothes they’d eventually dry, but after a couple of hours it begins to get old. I ended up usually hanging the damp clothes over the radiators, or when the weather was decent I hung them on the clothesline.

Dean, Clare and Andrew playing cards in the sun room of Parkduff Cottage

Dean, Clare and Andrew playing cards in the sun room of Parkduff Cottage

Clare constructed a fairy house outside the cottage, complete with a thatched roof. She also left some milk out for the fairies. They ended up repaying her for her thoughtfulness.

While I cooked dinner Dean and the kids played cards in the sun room. The three of them often played gin rummy during quiet times. I joined in occasionally, but I’m not really a card game fan.

The Two Ones Plus One

The Two Ones Plus One More

That evening, after a meal of pasta we spent a while at the rocky beach again — the kids looking at tidepools and playing with a friendly local dog.

More Day 11 photos on Flickr.

Co. Clare::Ennis and back to Parkduff Cottage — Day 9

The Clare Museum

The Clare Museum

Today we drove to Ennis to buy more groceries. Ennis is a market town and the largest town in the area. We also visited the tourist information office, hoping to visit the Clare Museum. No luck — on Sunday it closes at noon.

Outside the museum we met an ex-pat from the States who seemed to have picked up the loquaciousness of the Irish by association. She told us pretty much all there is to know about her life, but she also gave us some ideas on things to do in the area. It’s almost jarringly painful to hear an American accent while in Ireland.

Poor Clare

Poor Clare

After the tourist information office, we walked around Ennis for a while, taking some photos. We probably went overboard, teasing Clare about being in COUNTY CLARE. I think she got the point.

Ennis Friary

Ennis Friary

We then visited a 13th century friary, a bookstore and then found a pub/bar with food and ate lunch.  Finally, we bought groceries and drove back to Parkduff Cottage.

Andrew

Andrew

Clare

Clare

Dean and the two ones on the smelly sofa

Back at Parkduff Cottage we built a [smokeless] peat fire and made dinner. Gregory, the owner of the cottage stopped by to make sure we had settled in. We requested some more peat and more towels (we only had 3 when we got there).  He told us about some places we should visit, including a local pub called O’Looney’s. After dinner we watched a little television and then went to bed.

More day 9 photos on Flickr.

Parkduff Cottage, Co. Clare — Day 8

In front of Tralia House

In front of Tralia House

We bid farewell to Tralia House amid a small crisis of a flood in the laundry room. We hope the next tenants have a fine a time as we had there. Despite the flooding, Áine and Liam were gracious and accommodating. They snapped our photo outside the house and allowed us to take a photo of them, making us first promise not to put it on the Internet as they were outfitted for cleaning and not a photo shoot.

We drove north to the Shannon River, hoping to visit Glin Castle. We drove up and down the road, and only glimpsed at the castle. We are not sure how to actually visit it. (It seems that it is a hotel now)

Window at Parkduff Cottage

Window at Parkduff Cottage

We then took the ferry over the Shannon River from Tarbert in Co. Kerry to Killimer in Co. Clare and drove north to our next cottage. After a few hours of driving along the Atlantic coast we arrived at Parkduff Cottage. Gregory Rynne, the host of Parkduff Cottage sent me excellent directions in an email, but we were not sure how we’d meet up with him to actually get into the cottage. Luckily they are a trusting lot there in Doonbeg, because the key was in the door so we moved in and then drove to Quilty to buy a few supplies.

Andrew Loves the Beach

Andrew Loves the Beach

The weather was very mild all day and the sun shone brightly.  The house needed airing, so we opened up all the windows and doors. The previous tenants were heavy smokers.

Clare Loves the Beach Too

Clare Loves the Beach Too

Dean drove the kids to the beach (that was supposed to be walking distance away) while I made a meal of Irish smoked salmon, cream, leeks and pasta.

Dean picked me up and I went down to the beach with them. Andrew decided that we had to go to the beach to watch the sunset after dinner. We agreed that was a good idea.

Our first dinner at Parkduff Cottage.

Our first dinner at Parkduff Cottage.

Dinner was surprisingly good but Clare was not impressed. Ah well, can’t please them all.

Sunset in Doonbeg

Sunset in Doonbeg

We did watch the sunset (which ended up being the only one we saw all week) which was quite lovely. We ended up not going down to the beach, but watched the sunset from our sun room — the nicest part of Parkduff Cottage.

The kids loved Parkduff right away– in fact they liked it better than Tralia House. Clare liked the cottageness of it. I think Andrew liked being so close to the beach. They also liked the fact that the television had better reception than the one at Tralia House. Dean and I were uncomfortable with the dust and cigarette smells coming from the curtains and furniture. The house had not been dusted in a very long time and cob webs hung everywhere. Dean made a joke that I should email Gregory and tell him we’d settled in and named all the spiders.  We preferred Tralia House.

More Day 8 photos on Flickr.