Bare with me. This is a longer post. BUT, it’s probably more exciting as it talks about adventures and is filled with pictures. Enjoy!
This last weekend was an adventure! On Saturday, the international students were given the option to ride a free shuttle into downtown Limerick and go to the Milk Market. Tailor and I, being us, opted to walk to town rather than ride the bus. We walked the riverfront trail the 2.9km (1.8 miles) into town. The trail follows the Shannon River and takes you straight into the middle of downtown Limerick. It reminds me a lot of the Burke Gilman trail for my Seattle friends. Arriving in downtown Limerick, we didn’t exactly know where we were, but we were lucky enough (or skilled enough?) to have arrived at the same time as one of the University of Limerick busses, so we followed the crowd to the Milk Market. This is basically their version of a farmers market or imagine Pike Place Market but only on Saturdays with an Irish twist.
We mostly just explored and people watched, but I got some brown bread, which was delicious! A future weekend we’ll have to go down and actually buy fresh produce as well as explore St. John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Afterwards, we took the free shuttle back so we didn’t have to carry all of things the hour walk back.
The Cliffs of Moher
On Sunday morning, Tailor and I arrived behind the Foundation building along with the 200 other international students going on the first international student adventure of the semester. There were 6 busses of us! 6 busses! Too many people… But, I got to visit The Cliffs of Moher, the location where The Cliffs of Insanity were filmed in the Princess Bride in 1987!!! They were gorgeous! Once we arrived, Tailor and I booked it off the bus to get away from the crowds. We walked up the stairs to the O’Brien Tower snapped a couple pictures and continued along the trail, following the cliffs to the north.
The bus drivers warned everyone before getting off the bus that we need to be very very careful. On gusty days (which Sunday was not — it was a beautiful, clear, sunny, January day), people have been blown off the edges of the cliffs from being too close to the edge. Tailor and I, with all of our backcountry and outdoor experience, we like adventure, but also like to be safe. So, we followed the lower path, meaning there was a wall of sorts between us and the edge, allowing us to still be able to admire the views while also being safe. The two of us walked just over a mile along the cliff trail before reached as far as we felt it was safe to go. The views were gorgeous! We then walked back, passing the tower and walking south along the cliff trail for a little bit before heading back to the visitor center.
We were only given 2hrs at the Cliffs of Moher, so Tailor and I maximized our time. Afterwards, we all got back on the 6 busses. Still too many people. They drove us to the The Burren next, a Karst plateau. A Karst plateau is a “landscape underlain by limestone which has been eroded by dissolution, producing ridges, towers, fissures, sinkholes and other characteristic landforms” (Google definitions). The Burren (pictured below) was left at the end of the last Ice Age, about 350 million years ago, from glacial deposits. Fossil corals, sea urchins, sea-lilies, and ammonites can be found in these karst plateaus. Not many people find a “rock field” exciting, but I found it so fascinating (maybe that’s because I am a climber/very outdoorsy). Tailor and I wanted to explore it more, but we were only given a little bit of time, unfortunately.
There were limestone boulders sprinkled throughout the karst plateau that Tailor and I climbed on (we had to climb on them; it’s us.) before heading back down to look at the cliffs by the Burren. It was crazy being able to look out at the ocean from the plateau and see all the ants (aka crazy number of international students). We were also able to see wild horses hanging out by the edge of the road. In the Burren and Ireland in general, you could see so far. It’s something I’m not used to, being from the PNW. Back home, everywhere I look there are mountains, but here there might be a little bump in the ground (aka hill) in the distance, but otherwise you can see for many more miles without an obstructed view.
Tailor and I then went down to the cliffs to continue taking in the views. We were also told there was climbing in this area, so we want to find where it is (we made friends with some the Outdoor Pursuits Club (OPC) people this week, so we’ll have to pick their brain).
Ballyvaughn – Clare County
We continued north, driving on the narrow winding country roads through Ireland (2 busses can barely pass each other and when I say barely, I mean the side mirrors almost touch each other). Every time a car was coming the other direction, the bus would stop and pull as far to the left (yes, the left; they drive on the opposite side of the road from what I’m used to) so the car could have room to pass. At one point, a car had stopped, causing a long line of cars to form (passing was not really an option) because they were watching the horseback riders out the window.
After winding along the cliffside roads, we arrived in Ballyvaughn for a quick bathroom break. They gave us 20 minutes. What did Tailor and I do? Skip the bathroom and go straight to the church right by us. We were on this trip to see and experience as much as we could, so that’s what we did! Tailor even found the tiny bathroom that you have to access from the outside of the church, so we saw more and didn’t have to wait in a long line with all of the other international students! It was a win win situation for us!
Ballyvaughn is in the north part of Clare County and used to be a main import and export site. Now it is a cute little tourist city (there are even Irish cottages you can rent nearby). During the off season, many of the shops close down, so it was very quiet when we were there.
Poulnabrone means “hole of the sorrows” in Irish. This is a portal tomb, one of approximately 174 in Ireland. This tomb dates back to around 3000BC and there are somewhere between 20 and 30 bodies under this tomb (I’ve read different numbers). Portal tombs were typically constructed for someone important.
All throughout Ireland, including around the Portal Tomb, one can find these stacked rock walls (pictured below). There is no mortar of any sort used to keep all the rocks together; they are just stacked. The walls are so sturdy that wind, rain, and storms do not knock them over. Some have been built more recently, but most are very old. These wall fascinate me! I think they are so cool!
We covered a decently large chunk of of the west coast of Ireland, which was neat! Look below to see the rough path we took to be able to see all we did!
I’ve almost had a full week of “classes.” Read my next post to find out why it’s in quotes. Tailor and I have signed up to go on a hike with OPC on Sunday, so keep posted for adventure updates!