Ireland ring fort

Ireland 2008: Ring Fort, Portal Tomb, the Burren

A continuation of our Ireland trip from Doolin to the Ring Fort, Portal Tomb, and the Burren.

Cathair Chonaill [Ring Fort]

Another few minutes up the road from Carron Church and there’s the Cathair Chonaill, or Ring Fort. Ring Forts are fairly common in Ireland, the home of over 45,000 such structures. The label fort is misleading, as most of these structures were not defensive, but an enclosed farmstead. The rings are laid up dry stone slabs and stone blocks. In other parts of Ireland you can find earthen forts, where the stone is less plentiful.

Ireland Ring Fort
Exterior wall of the Ring Fort.

The Ring Fort is impressive. It is so interesting to see how older civilizations solved their problems…especially without heavy machinery or a college education. (Though the farm girl was laughing more at the cows next to an historic attraction. Oh, people in the States would throw fits if we did similar!)

Portal Tomb

Ireland Portal Tomb
Signage for the Portal Tomb.

A short drive up the road and we found the car park (parking lot) for the Portal Tomb. The site was busier than the previous ones, so we took our time reading the information plaques and meandered closer to the Tomb.

During archeological digs, they discovered the remains of 21 humans. Theoretically, the bodies were placed over the course of 600 years, beginning around 5,000 years ago. For supposedly primitive people, they built a cool structure.

The Burren

While waiting for the crowds to thin out, and after reading the plaques, we wandered around, marveling at the landscape. The Tomb is in the Burren, and the landscape is fascinating. According to the information plaques, over 70% of Ireland’s native plant species can be found growing in the Burren. Wicked impressive considering quite a bit of the Burren looks like a windswept rock with some grasses.

After two days’ march…we entered into the Barony of Burren, of which it is said, that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him; which last is so scarce, that the inhabitants steal it from one another, and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in tufts of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing.

Edmund Ludlow, 1651
Ireland the Burren
The Burren

Ballyvaughan and the Atlantic Coast

Once we had our fill of wandering around the Portal Tomb and parts of the Burren, we headed north till we reached Ballyvaughan. We stopped to wander the pier and grab some lunch.

Ireland Ballyvaughan
Atlantic Ocean at Ballyvaughan.

I find some of the Irish signs very different than signs in the States. We argued a bit about what the car sign meant. We finally decided it must mean “Do not drive on the pier. You might drive off”. And I wish I could say the second picture of all the signs on post is an exaggeration…

Ireland Ballyvaughan
Car sign and destination signs.

Our drive back down to Doolin along the coast, if you go without stopping from Ballyvaughan, should take less than an hour. We took the whole afternoon. So many places along the way to hike and explore the coast line.

Doolin

We hit Doolin about the time the sun was setting, so we meandered down to the coast line to watch.

And then it was time for supper at the local pub (recommended by Margaret), McDermott’s. Apparently the tourists go to O’Connor’s and the locals go to McDermott’s. Pubs are so different than bars in the States. Might actually be more inclined to go out drinking if we had more pubs than bars here… Anyway, we had a grand time! Sat at a table with a man from Cork and a woman on her “gap year” and just had fun conversing about different cultures. Then it was time to go back to Emohruo to sleep and be rested for Inishmore.

Ireland Coast
Another favorite image from the day. Doolin coastline at sunset.

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