Posted by: Marcie Miller | May 11, 2010

Cliffs of Moher and the Burren

Day One

Just to make things interesting I started the day jumping (OK falling) off a stone bench and twisting my left knee. It didn’t seem too bad and I made it through the rest of the day, as we went from the stunning Cliffs of Moher to the desolately beautiful Burren, and a few pubs.

But first, the Cliffs. They are one of the most photographed cliff faces on the planet, but still awe-inspiring. We added our own photos to the growing collection, although we have been disappointed to learn the wide angle lens for the DSLR is not working, leaving only a 55-250 lens to work with. I never realized how much I used the lower end of the lens!  Fortunately Chris has his handy little camera with a nice wide angle — and it shoots underwater, which has been fun. The first day he stuck it in a tide pool at Doolin harbor.

It’s been seven years since I last visited the Cliffs with my mother, and a lot has changed! Talk about paving paradise. But, with so many visitors they have had to do a lot to protect the fragile environment. There is now a huge parking lot across the street and the visitors center complex is built into the hill like hobbit holes. Very nice, really. There are now wide stone steps leading along the cliff to O’Brien’s tower, and they have completely barricaded off the most thrilling part — a wide limestone ledge where people used to lean over to look down the sheer cliff face. Fun, but very dangerous. There is now a planter dedicated to “those who have lost their lives on the Cliffs of Moher.” No body count though.

End of the Cliffs trail - with memorial to the fallen.

They're no fun.

The weather was pretty clear, but windy, which made it cold!

From there we headed into the “heart of the Burren” as they say, to Kilfenora and the Burren visitor’s center, where we looked at moldy dioramas of prehistoric life and one pretty good video.

Chris took a turn at driving today. The deal was he could drive until he hit something (it goes both ways), since “until you scare me” was too subjective — I got scared right out of the Cliffs of Moher parking lot. Those hedge-covered stone walls really jump out at you! I’ve driven in Ireland before, but I’ve never been a passenger. It’s a different view! And Mom, sorry. You were very brave.

But he got the hang of it, and I learned to admire the view to the right — away from the side of the road.

In the Burren we stopped at a site which is no longer marked, as someone probably stole the sign, an ancient burial mound called “Poulawack.” To get to it we had to climb a small slope and pick our way across the uneven limestone, and over a rock wall. It doesn’t look like  much, just a large pile of rocks, but it has been used for burying folks for 1,000 years.

Then we visited the iconic Poulnabrone, a portal dolmen, also used for burials. It has also been groomed for tourism, with a large parking lot and wide gravel path. When last I visited we had to park in a small pullout and jump from rock to rock to get to it. Again, steps taken to reduce impact.

Poulnabrone portal dolman and tourists

We drove down to the coast from there, to go to Dungaire castle. Arrived at 4:35 p.m., just as they were locking the gates! I have yet to see beyond those iron bars.

Note: Castles close at 4:30 in Ireland

We drove around looking for a giant lobster Chris remembered seeing, on the first day when he was in a jet lag stupor, but didn’t find it, so ended up eating pub grub at The Irish Arms in Lisdoonvarna. Irish pub, no Irish to be found. Two tables of Americans, a large group of Germans, two English couples, and a backroom full of Asians. Who knew Ireland would become such a crossroads?

Back in Doolin we strolled to the pub near our B&B, McDermotts. The band was good, but it was very crowded. Doolin really needs more pubs. They have a booming tourism business, but really not enough pubs to hold the people who come to hear the music. There are only three pubs! Who did that math?

Today, Tuesday, we are heading down to Portmagee on the Iveragh Peninsula, better known as the Ring of Kerry, where tomorrow we are booked for a boat trip out to Skellig Michael, the high rocky island which used to house monks in stone “beehive” huts. It’s 600 steps to the top. Not sure I can make it with my bum knee. 😦  Stay tuned…



  1. So sorry about your knee, Marcie. And right before the Skelligs!!! Loved the blog, read every word. Twice.

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