Summer hols

Our Amazing Full-On Holiday in North Clare Late June 2017

We certainly packed a lot of interesting action into our few days holiday in North Clare this month. We arrived in Lisdoonvarna on Thursday via a very welcome pit stop in the fantastic Supermac’s plaza just outside Galway city. Our apartment was lovely. Two bedrooms and a spacious, high-ceilinged, airy sitting room/kitchen with comfy couches. The Bean An Tí, Joan, gave us a lovely welcome to Town House Square beside the famous Ritz matchmaking hotel. We soon found the local Mace for milk etc. We also sent off a few postcards. We went out for dinner that night in an excellent Irish music venue nearby. The Rathbaun hotel.  Good quality food and good music too. Grand, prompt service and friendliness. They really have tourism hospitality off to an art form in Clare.

Next day, Friday, we visited the fascinating, multifaceted Burren visitors interpretative centre in Kilfenora (you could spend a week here) and the amazing Ailwee cave, which was full of gas stories and amusement. Then we visited the authentic, unique Burren Perfumerie. A lovely drive into the moonlike heart of the Burren. The roads are very scenic if a bit scary for driving. Next morning we got the boat from Doolin to Gaeltacht Inish Oírr (Inishere) which was a lovely experience. We had a short tour of the island on a mini bus with a local character and lunch in a homespun cafe run by a Dublin woman married to the bus driver’s cousin. Lovely and sunny. On the way back, we viewed the Cliffs of Moher close up from the ferry. A bit rough.

We were glad to crash out for a while then until that evening when we headed for Lahinch and Liscannor and back home by the new Visitors Centre at the Cliffs of Moher. This was the only real drizzly downpour we experienced but the exhibition in the centre made it worthwhile. Well organised. Maura and I went for a classic pint and some music in the same hotel that Saturday night. On Sunday, we had a full Irish breakfast in the Spa hotel and then got a strong community Mass (actually a funeral Mass of a local man, a real pillar) and then walked the beautiful beach of Fanore in sunshine and stopped in Ballyvaughan for a late lunch after another lovely picturesque if tricky drive by Black Head. The highlight of the weekend was a guided tour of the wild Mullaghmore region of the Burren with Marie Mc Guaran, a native guide, from Corofin.

An Appreciation of ‘The Mullagmore Experience’

(a unique guided walk in the Burren with Marie Mc Gauran)

My wife, Maura, and my son, Pauric, age 13, and I really enjoyed our walk with Marie into the heart of the Burren last weekend.

June is a beautiful month and the flowers were really splendid and extra special. I got photos of orchids and other beautiful plants whose traditional names I forget. Marie told us all about them and the different types eg Alpine and Mediterranean.

My mother, Mary, whose is nearly 90 now, will fully appreciate these as she is a country girl too from Donegal. Her mother, Matilda, was big into Botany.

Marie is a native here in Co Clare and loves the land which she farmed herself with her late father Donie (Denis) O Brien, and her whole family.

Her brothers farm this land now in cooperation with the Heritage people

ie. the government and OPW.

There is also a strong network of local Eco people trying bravely to preserve this sacred sanctuary of nature and folklore.

We walked and talked and absorbed the whole experience. We climbed rocks like goats and strolled on lower paths too.

We saw a sky lark, gallantly protecting her nest. We heard Marie tell of the other wildlife and the ancient geology of the place which is unique in Europe.

It was a lovely evening and just as we finished, we got a typical shower of rain which made the limestone glisten.

We absorbed the history, eg about famine times, as well as the geography in this open air class room.

We chatted freely and Marie was especially encouraging to our young lad, Pauric, who is a real ‘townie’.

Her passion is to pass on this earthy folk wisdom to the future generations.

In a busy world, this is a real tonic. In a sense, a spiritual cure for ‘sore’ eyes.

Clare Holiday 2017 description (continued)

That Sunday night we had a lovely, simple pizza meal in the modern, youth-filled Burren Storehouse next door to the Burren Smokehouse which Maura had visited that morning. She had found it very interesting and educational.

On the way back to Dublin on Monday, we stopped at the lovely garden centre in Kilcolgan. Keane’s. Maura got an Ivy and Chrysanths.

We were horrified in the Enfield Applegreen to clash with busloads of drunken teenagers heading for the Chainsmokers gig in Belfast. The poor young things were positively indecent but obviously peer pressure is really huge. They wore a uniform of cheap hot pants, tacky spray tanned legs, provocatively open bosom tops and all had the same boring, unsmiling hair style. The lads were all ‘macho’, pissed stupid. Dehumanised. No one looked happy at all.

Pauric was really shocked and taken aback. He seems immune to joining these disgusting, degrading gangs, thank God. We had, as it were, left an ancient paradise and passed through a contemporary hell.

We were very glad to get to the sanity of home even though it seemed funnily empty without our family dogs, Hank and Marley, who were also on hols in kennels in Wicklow.


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