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Home, This Could Be Home - Clifden, Ireland (Days 14-15)

The Burren (limestone landscape formed 320 million years ago under a tropical sea and later shaped by the Ice Age). People have been living in The Burren more than 5000 years. Caherconnell Stone Fort - ring fort under excavation in the Burren built over 1000 years ago.

The Burren is a 350 square km. limestone landscape (clints) of a criss-cross pattern of vertical fissures (grikes). It's famous for its unique flora and wildlife. Described as moonscape, The Burren used to be under a warm tropical sea over 360 million years ago and was raised by tectonic movement. It has been shaped by the Ice Age. The tombs indicate that people have been living in The Burren for more than 5000 years.  There's a great 12 minute film at the Burren Center that presents "a walk through time" and a self-guided museum that you enter after watching the film.  We were not here long as Molly freaked out at the cavemen displays and I had to exit with her.  Caitlin really enjoyed the exhibits though.  This was a nice spot to break up the drive and learn about the area.

From there, we somehow tripped over Caherconnell Stone Fort.  It wasn't a planned stop.  It was cool poking around this Bronze Age fort located in The Burren.  They are still uncovering things as we saw a roped off area of an active archaeological dig.  We took the R480 road and I highly recommend it!

My travel companions, though they were all "ooohhhh" and "aaaahhhh" at first, lost interest fairly quickly. They wouldn't even get out of the car at the scenic points.  But, it's not a long drive and it's very easy, so don't skip it.  Our next stop was out of The Burren (near Kinvara) heading towards Galway.  What do you think made the kids want to stop?

Castle withdrawal? No problem. Got the fix. Dunguaire Castle built in 1520. — at Dunguaire Castle.

This was an easy stop. There's a parking lot right across the street. They apparently do a medieval banquet. We were only passing through and had a picnic afterwards for lunch in the car before continuing through Galway to Clifden.

We have made our way from Spanish Point to Clifden. Set between the Atlantic Ocean, 12 Bens Mountains, and protected boglands on the coast of Connemara. This gorgeous property is on 35 acres of ancient woodland on the shores of Clifden bay. — at Mallmore Country House B&B.

Our View!

Mallmore House was built in 1789 for James D'Arcy. The D'Arcy family pretty much built the village of Clifden. We had the pleasure of staying in the James D'Arcy Room, which is at the entrance and is the en-suite family room. A stunning wood door greets your entrance, but once you enter, you will be so mesmerized by your view, that you will forget the names of your children.  We immediately let them loose in the garden, but soon joined them.  This property!  Is!  Amazing!

Clifden is an easy village to drive into.  Plenty of parking and lots of options.  Guess what we FINALLY got to enjoy?!  Live Irish music!

Live Irish Music!

What do you do when it doesn't get dark until 11pm? Look for fairies, pixies, and sprites amongst the ruins. And get lucky with a pink sunset.  All in our backyard!

Does anybody in Ireland NOT have ruins in their backyard?!

Stunning Kylemore Abbey and Gothic Church. Built as a castle in 1867 by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife. Still occupied today by Benedictine nuns. — at Kylemore Abbey. Connemara.

Kylemore Abbey is still in use today, so you do not have access to much of it. We were through it rather quickly. It does sit on a large estate with a church and surrounding gardens. I want to brag that my children were very well-behaved in the church. We gave them a stern lecture before entering, but sometimes that goes in one ear and out the other. They even chose to sit together for quite some time quietly in a pew.  My kids and the the word "quiet" are rarely used in the same sentence.

This is a beautiful place to just meander. It's well-paved and an easy walk. Great for kids. I found it very relaxing here.

Ohmygosh! One of the most amazing places yet! Omey Island is a tidal island that we DROVE to at low tide. Had we miscalculated, we could have been cut-off at high tide (which is high enough to cover a car). Follow the arrowed signs! — at Omey Island.

I had come across this place on the Internet, but wasn't sure what to expect. Rob stopped the car and looked over at me, "Do we just drive across it?" I guess, what could go wrong? We didn't realize it at the time, but in the parking lot at the entrance is a tide time table. People with their wits would check it prior to going across.

So, we start across. Rob concludes that he isn't comfortable driving across the sea bed without knowing how soft it is and gets out to test the ground. It feels pretty compact. Pretty sure we won't get stuck, we continue. This is SO cool!

Looking across at the tide, wondering how fast it will come in.
Entrance to Omey Island!  We were dying to get out of the car and explore the tidal basin, but didn't want to get stuck on the island.  So after getting across successfully (Yeah!), we turned around to take the car back to the mainland and explore with less risk.

We saw lots of vehicles having some FUN - driving in circles and going off the marked path. Playing in this wide strand was one of my favorite things we did in Ireland.

The whole Connemara is gorgeous and Clifden is a perfect spot from which to see it. I could easily have stayed longer. Heck, I could easily have stayed at Mallmore House. Forever.

At the end of the day, we tried to find Clifden Castle (ruins), but didn't quite make it. I think if we had walked further we would have come upon it, but we were traipsing through private property after parking outside the arches and just weren't sure.  Next time for sure!

Goodbye lovely Clifden! You have a piece of our hearts. — at Clifden, Connemara, Galway, Ireland

Grab a walking stick from the entrance and take off for adventure!

So, Rob was looking at my pictures and he says, "You need to tell people what an awful photographer you are or nobody is going to want to come to Ireland." How rude! But, he does have a point. So, the below is a pic I took of a famous spot in Connemara. Do you recognize it? My pic is followed by what is much closer to the truth - two pics I pulled off the Internet.

I had seen the Connemara pics on the Internet prior to our trip.  I squealed with delight when I recognized the iconic island as we were leaving Clifden and driving to Connemara airport.  Somehow, we had missed it on our way in.  It was spot on as Molly was feeling carsick and needed to get out for fresh air. Here, I discovered that Rob is an even WORSE photographer than me!  
Worst pic ever taken of the famous Connemara Island
As we got back in the car, I hear Rob curse his luck.  "What?!?!", I asked.  He just pointed.  A tour bus had pulled in blocking our path and about 50 people all jumped out to take a pic.  HAHAHAHA - this is on the tour route as a planned stop.  I have no idea the significance of this island.  Other than, it's just another beautiful Connemara island.  I'm saying this in jest - I loved Connemara and so will you!

Up Next - Inishmore, Aran Islands, Ireland (Days 16-17)

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