Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cliffs with the Consumption Ward

Thursday we took a tour to the Cliff of Moher and the Burren area, despite all my visitors' terrible coughs which sounded like the consumption-ward-choir. We took the same company: Lally Tour (and still got the same driver Martin that we've now had five times on tours of two different regions-- I'm beginning to think their guides are an army of clones) Instead of stopping at the Allwee Caves first like we did when I went with Emily and Katie last month, we stopped at a farm; I think because we had a group on the tour from Dublin for a day-trip to the west coast of Ireland, it was pretty exciting. At the family-farm-turned-family-farm-with-tours-and-fresh-pie-to-boot.  We got a nice little tour of the farm, and a fun walk up the hill behind the farm-house so we could see more of the burren landscape. Burren comes from the Irish for "rocky-place" which is a ten-points-for-captain-obvious sort of name. Yet, despite how rocky it is the limestone covering the area holds in heat and water allowing a huge range of plants to thrive. Everything from Alpine-wild-flowers-like-blue-genetry to palm-trees can grow in the Burren since it nearly never frosts. Our guide explained the fairy-tree where you tie something to a branch and leave your problem behind, and ruins of seven churches and the famine walls-- stone walls you can see crossing over all the mountains dividing nothing from nothing and keeping nothing out of anything, they were built for woolly-brained-land-lords in exchange for soup during the Great Famine.

In addition to the history and landscape and myths there were also really cute animals. One Ewe had just given birth to triplet lambs a few days before, they were adorable -- although the mama-sheep gave us a death glare for being too close to her babies even as we stood on the other side of the field. There were young calves as well (but no one got to milk any of the cows so don't hate me too much Jessica - the tour honestly didn't list "go to farm and see Irish cows" as something they do, they surprised us).  The cutest though was of course the King Charles Spaniel puppy who was a few weeks old. So soft! So precious! I want the puppy.

This picture lies, I'm not actually taller than my brother
Although the cliffs really do look that cool 
After enjoying some tea and fresh-home-made-cheese-cakes-and-pies at the farm we hopped back on the bus and went to the cliffs. We got a great view of it all because it was a sunny day! There is so much more of the cliffs to see when it is sunny and there is no mist, rain, and fog rolling in. The wind was still quite strong and chilly, but the only water hitting us was the spray from the very impressive waves hitting the cliffs way below us. Although the cliff winds attempted (and nearly succeeded in) making my hair into one big dread, the weather was much nicer to our cameras and we got some good pictures. And I got my money's worth out of my cozy-aran-island-sweater.

At the top of Cork-screw-hill on the way to the cliffs
with my little brother who is also clearly taller than me

We all appreciated the warm soup at the pub on the way back from the cliffs. And all of us split a humongous slice of chocolate-cake-with-whipped-cream-and-strawberries. I also appreciated that despite his cold still bothering him a ton, my darling younger brother still agreed to be in photos with me, and even smiled-in-an-admittedly-grimacey-sort-of-way. And I very very much appreciated the nice weather. Although there was a part of me that felt like we were being mocked with the sunshine after having gone to the Aran Islands with the worst possible weather ever. (Especially since the forecast was the same all week and the weather was clearly not the same all week.)
On the way back from the cliffs we made one more stop that we didn't last time at a prehistoric-portal-tomb. From the guide and the way-side-signs it seems that the only thing the experts knows about it that you can't tell from looking at it is that the bones of at least 30 people were buried around it. They're stumped about why it slants towards the setting sun, or how they got it to line up with the equinoxes, or for that matter how they got the huge stone on top of the other huge stones in the first place. It was pretty neat to see, although I do feel like the purpose of things like this and Stonehenge should be passed down at least through word of mouth from generation to generation, at what point does some little kid not think "wow grandma what is that circle of cray huge stones?" The history major in me loves those sorts of things. And I loved the day all around, cause it worked out wonderfully.

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