I am writing this from the beautiful cozy Corrib View Farmhouse by the shore of Lough Corrib, a few km from Oughterard, Co. Galway.
The 'mission' for today, that we accepted, was to introduce the group to some of my favourite places on The Burren, Co. Clare
before we finally rested in Co. Galway, at this beautiful Corrib View place.
The day started at Killyshee House hotel outside of Naas, towards Kilcullen, Co. Kildare.
After another hearty breakfast session we were packed and on the road by 9:20 am, weather cloudy but warm, about 14 C, at take off. I did not take any pics of us setting off this time.
Within minutes we were onto the M7, heading west, the road we were to hug for the next 2 hours or so. As soon as we were on the motorway, traffic jam, an accident a few Km ahead.
It did not hold us up long and within 10 km we were cruising quite comfortably along a very quiet motorway for almost 2 hours, total stress free driving.
There was some fun as we passed near Moneygall, Co. Offaly, the land of the O'Bamas ... sorry, Obamas. Before we reached the turnoff I was amused by a big billboard sign of a portrait of the Barak in the middle of a field. I assume that was where his helicopter landed a couple of years ago.
As we approached the Moneygall turnoff there were large signs tempting us to visit where the USA president had been ...
... but we did not. Pity he did not try a Dark Arts Porter, instead of that other stuff.
After our motorway cruise west, we pulled off into the country lanes to Corofin for our first stop.
Here it was stretch the legs time and a bathroom stop but, from previous experiences, this is one of the least bathroom stop welcoming places in Ireland. I suppose its because most people passing Corofin want to use bathrooms but not buy anything. Some of the girls bought coffee at Inchiquinns, a place that has served us well in the past, and they bought coffee there.
Some of us when into a delightful re-vamped visitor's centre where the woman there was delighted to see us.
All relieved it was back on the road for a couple of Km to Killinaboy Abbey to visit a Sheela na Gig above the doorway there
Lots of speculation about what a Sheela na Gig is and what it's symbol is saying.
There's even more speculation about its name origin. I think I can keep this shortest by explaining my own. As a child in Yorkshire, there was a slang for a woman's genitals as being a 'gig', and I have since learned that parts of Ireland once had a similar word, especially around Donegal and Derry counties area. This leads me to think the word came in through the Saxons around the 6th to 9th centuries.
Add to that the Shee part, which I suspect comes from the Irish Sioga, shee-ga, which is a fairy, fae or sprite figure. Put this together and we have the vulva of the fae ... but then what would that mean?
Some say its a symbol to ward off evil spirits, conservative church people say its to remind us of our sins and how we are sinners, but my favourite is that it gets our attention to remind us we are entering into a sacred place, so leave our guilt, jealousy, anger, intents for revenge, and maybe our 'sins', outside before we enter.
So what is this again? ...
From Killinaboy it was off along the narrow lanes towards the Burren Perfumery with a few choice stops on the way.
The first being a photo stop at Father Ted's House
where the Father Ted's House dogs came to greet us
and then went back home
Next, was my favourite Burren viewpoint, within a townland area called Glencolumbkille (after Columcille?).
that I was once told is called the place of Speaking Stones
the naming of these mysterious cairns, either named after a book of poems of the area, or the book of poems named after this area.
This was also the place we stopped to experience a bit of walking over the Burren barren surface
I am surprised, and delighted, that each time I visit there is more growth happening here. There was a time I visited and it was just the bare rock, but those green grass turfs are spreading and the Burren hills are becoming greener and fertile. Not good for the Burren tourism, I suppose, but I like the ecosystem this is slowly returning.
And finally we reach the Burren Perfumery, and straight into its excellent cafe
that the girls had a great craic in
but I yearned to eat outside in the lovely nature sound air, and this is what I had ...
I have long declared Burren Perfumery cafe serving the best coffee in Ireland, but this time it was at it's best ... and now I can add that it served the best carrot cake in Ireland too!!!
After this sojourn it was off to the shop
to do some shopping
and some buying
And now to explore the enchanting herb garden here at the Burren Perfumery
I will be posting a separate blog post, later, on the herbs of this garden. Meanwhile here are a few pics to serve an image of this enchanting peaceful place ...
and so we left, to slowly leave this Burren wilderness ... full of life
but first we visited a nearby holy well
Its looks like the 'toilet paper group' had been here recently, a group of people who seem to visit holy wells around Ireland and leave their prayers, wishes and intents through knotting white, sometimes red too, toilet paper onto well trees ... maybe a different interpretation of 'bile tree'?
I know !!! ... there's something that could be said about this well, after what I said on my last comment.
Leaving there, descending down from the Burren to Kinvara, we were soon into the task of playing chess with the Galway traffic.
Getting around and out of Galway was actually the easiest I have ever experienced, a huge relif, as sometimes I have been stuck and unable to move through the gridlock for at least a couple of hours.
Leaving Galway, I popped into the grounds of the Dunlo Abbey to see why our booking for the Pullman Restaurant had been cancelled. The train was being restored. Here is how it looked not long ago. One of my favourite restaurants in Ireland, an incredible experience.
But soon we arrived at the glorious Corrib View Farmhouse B&B
and was first welcomed by Olive the Cat
A Yew Walk
a closer look at the shoreline
greeted by lovely tea and cake by B&B hostess, Ethel,
including a 'rest and be welcome' roaring fire
before heading off to Oughterard village to eat at Breathnach's pub, very nice
Then off to bed, pleasant dreams I'm sure, in this heavenly place.