The Burren, Co. Clare : Travel Reminiscences

10 day self-drive tour of Ireland : October 2009

I found this region fascinating!!!!

The Burren is a vast limestone plateau in northwest County Clare  covering 500 square miles!!!!    In the 1640’s, Cromwell’s surveyor described it as ‘a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor a tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury”  The large expanse of limestone – over 3 000 ft (900m) in places – acts as a ‘huge storage heater’, soaking up warmth in summer and slowly emitting it in winter – plus the local climate – makes it perfect for year-round grazing for cattle.  Underground,  the region is ‘honeycombed’ with caves.

It is a ‘unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and alpine plants rare to Ireland grow side by side.’ 

We drove along the coast road for a bit before veering off inland towards Carron and the Burren’s perfumery





Most roads in this part of Ireland are lined with blackberry bushes (could be wrong about the variety of berry) and most cars are scratched along their left-hand sides!!


P1090300 P1090301 P1090302 P1090303P1090304Limestone pavement : Glaciation, wind, and rain erosion have formed limestone pavements with deep crevices known as ‘grykes’  or grikes and slabs are called ‘clints’


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We followed road signs to see the Poulnabrone Dolmen (portal tomb dating back to between 4200 BC and 2900 BC) – one of which took us to Caherconnell Stone Fort’s car park.  From there we followed paths within dry-stone walling to a visitors’ centre and entrance to the area where the Megalithic tombs lie.  If remember correctly, there was still quite a walk from the entrance to the tombs and I still wanted to see the perfumery before making our way to Galway, so we decided not to pay the entrance fee and go in.  It’s always very difficult to make decisions like that  when I want to see and do everything but cannot :(



P1090311-Poulnabrone Dolmen- BurrenDriving to the Burren Perfumery and Floral Centre just outside Carron in the heart of the Burren, on single lane roads was precarious with blind corners and no place to go for an on-coming vehicle !!!   We had planned to have a bite to eat there but the tea room was closed for the season :(  such a pity, as I was looking forward to something yummy and a hot cup of tea.  They serve a selection of freshly baked organic cakes, garden soups, tea, herbal teas and coffee


P1090335P1090320The Perfumery, which opened about 40 years ago, is the longest established perfume house in Ireland.  It has ‘drawn inspiration from the flora and beauty of the Burren landscape to create it’s signature scents, which are hand blended and bottled on the premises.  Today the Perfumery creates its artisan range, which includes handcrafted soaps, certified organic creams and candles, using the very best natural and organic ingredients sourced from all around the world.’

Even though everything smelt really, really  lovely, I didn’t buy anything.  Wished I had :(

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70% of Ireland’s wild flowers can be found in the region.  ‘From May to August, an astonishing array of flowers add splashes of colour to the austere landscape.  These plants grow abundantly around the region’s shallow lakes (turloughs) and pastures, but they also root in the crevices of the limestone pavements.’

We watched a short 12 minute film on the unique local flora and landscape of the Burren before meandering through the organic show and herb garden

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Onward we drove …



.. next two stop was Galway


Posted in castles, Co. Clare, countryside, flowers, herbs, holiday, Ireland, Landscape, memory lane, plants, travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday : Our cottage 1976/77 ….

…. and our children were growing

In the December of 1975,  hubby and I had had enough of flat living in Windsor, Randburg and found a cottage to rent on a small holding in Honeydew.  The owner of the property was an orchard grower, for export, and had three cottages which were rented out.  The property used to be a pig farm.

This was our cottage.    I might add here that it no longer exists.  The area is now part of the huge informal settlement of Zandspruit.  As years passed, driving passed it on Beyers Naudé, we watched the trees die off and little bit by little bit, ‘our cottage’  was vandalised and stripped of everything.  It was later knocked down completely.  No doubt the bricks were used for something

Copy of our cottage, Zandspruit-Honeydew - March 1977

It was very basic .. two bedrooms, bathroom, lounge/dining room, and a very basic kitchen.   The floors were concrete.  It was pretty chilly in winter, but there was a wonderful fireplace which worked like a bomb!!

But .. it had a garden and space for children to play.

Jan 1976 - Carl

Precarious walker !!!   It would never pass a safety inspection today !!

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Cottage ..J and C washing car Aug 76

Slipping in a few pics in-between those at the cottage but still in ’76/’77 :
Salisbury, Rhodesia before my eldest brother’s wedding ..

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In December 1977 we spent Christmas in Rhodesia.  Because of the Terrorist War, we decided to send the children to their Granny’s by plane, while hubby and I travelled by road, catching the military convoys.    Carl will always recount the story of me sending him (who wasn’t quite 3 years old!!!) and his big sister  off on a plane to Rhodesia!!   He always leaves out the fact that my Mum travelled with them ;)   Look at that sad face :(    We all travelled back by car, catching the military convoys .. much to the delight of the children!   Real soldiers and real guns!!

Dec 1977


Dec 1977 - Norfolk Road, Salisbury

We stayed in the cottage for nearly 3 years, until we couldn’t handle the rats any longer!  Being a small holding, there was no garbage collection – we had milk deliveries (!!) but no garbage collection.   There was a rubbish pit for each cottage which we had to burn on a regular basis.  But .. the rats arrived .. one rat led to two .. and the two multiplied!!   Being a flat roofed dwelling we couldn’t put poison in the ceiling (we used to hear them scurry back and forth, especially at night!   We had a dog, so we had to be careful with poison anyway.  The last straw came (two actually!)  when I went into the children’s room only to find Carl’s dressing gown buttons had been eaten off .. all of them!!!   The dressing gown had been at the foot of his bed!!!!!!!  The second incident that really sticks my mind is when Jeanette went to the lounge to fetch her doll from a dolly pram, one morning, and screamed !!!!!   The whole face of the doll had been eaten!!!    We used to hear the rats in the rooms at night!   I cringe when I think of it now.  Thank heavens we didn’t get ill !

We had to move!!!!

Posted in children, home, memory lane, Throwback Thursdays | 3 Comments

Doolin, Co. Clare : Travel Reminiscences

10 day self-drive tour of Ireland : October 2009

From the Cliffs of Moher, we drove a short distance to the village of Doolin, which is near the port for the Aran Islands ..







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Inside the Music Shop .. I remember the chappie not being the friendliest (maybe he was having a bad day as we found the Irish to be the most friendliest of people) … but he did let me take a few photographs ..

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P1090270-  Doolin, Co. ClareP1090281We drove a short way to the ferry port  ..





Aran Islands in the distance and beyond …


Very bleak and barren!  This is part of The Burren, which I found fascinating!!  It’s a vast limestone plateau ..


P1090284P1090285P1090288P1090287Cliffs of Moher in the distance ..



Limestone pavement .. glaciation, wind and rain erosion have formed limestone pavements with deep crevices known as ‘grykes’



P1090289The Burren and the Burren Perfumery – hard to believe there is a perfumery in this region, but there is ….. next :)

Posted in Co. Clare, flowers, Ireland, Landscape, memory lane, music, sea, travel | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare : Travel Reminiscences

10 day self-drive tour of Ireland : October 2009

En route to Galway for our next two-night stay,  Hubby and I stopped at the magnificent Cliffs of Moher.  I had done a post at the time…  Cliffs of Moher, Co.  …

.. but it’s worth sharing a few more photographs on this, my WordPress blog ;)

On the way, the landscape became very flat and bleak .. miles of open grassland ..



The Cliffs of Moher stretch for 8kms and rise 214m above the Atlantic Ocean.  The sheer rock face, with its layers of black shale and sandstone, is home to one of Ireland’s largest nesting sea bird colonies with over 30 000 nesting sea birds

Visitors Centre ..



It was a bit hazy that day, pity  ..


P1090223IMG_9632Liscannor in the distance ..


O’Brien’s Tower built in 1835 by local landlord, Cornelius O’Brien as a viewing point for visitors


P1090234Aran Islands on left and County Galway on the horizon ..



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Copy (2) of IMG_9637IMG_9652IMG_9656IMG_9657 (2)Most people did .. go beyond this point .. including us !!   But you have to be extremely careful.  I wouldn’t have gone if it had been windy







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Next stop ..  a look at the village of Doolin, a short drive from the Cliffs of Moher

Posted in animals, birds, Co. Clare, countryside, holiday, Ireland, Landscape, memory lane, sea, travel | Tagged | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday: Johannesburg 1971

This was my first visit to Johannesburg … way, way back in 1971.  Hubby and I came down from Rhodesia for the Easter weekend, spending time at the Rand Easter and Agricultural Show (or whatever it was called then) which, way back then was held where a large portion of Wits University now stands.  In those days, at the Show,  there were stands from all over the world.  Fascinating for us as we were used to our Agricultural Shows that had everything local.  Nothing imported at all .. it was the time of sanctions in our country.   It opened my eyes to what was out there!!!!!!   There were magnificent cars, cheeses etc and what really sticks in my memory is the stand from Switzerland.  It was wall-to-wall clocks!!!!   From cuckoo clocks to grandfather clocks!!   They were amazing !!!!    (I still haven’t been to Switzerland!!!)

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At that time there was a lift to a viewing deck in the Albert Hertzog Tower  (or FM Tower) : 235 metres high : used for the SA Broadcasting Corporation’s VHF-FM system  – built in 1962.    I still have the pamphlet tucked into an old photograph album ..

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Photo of Johannesburg in the pamphlet ..

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This is my one and only photograph from the viewing deck  .. looking across to the Hillbrow Tower …

IMG_2600 - April 1971

Posted in memory lane, Throwback Thursdays | Tagged | 4 Comments

Bunratty Winery, Co. Clare : Travel Reminiscences

10 day self-drive tour of Ireland : October 2009

To complete our Bunratty Castle and Folk Park experience, hubby and I drove a little further down the road to the Bunratty Winery



Irish mead … mead … and more mead ;)  … naturally we came away with a small bottle … of mead!!!



Too long to repeat .. but it looks as if drinking mead is a very important part of a wedding ceremony and honeymoon !!!!

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Our next two-night stay was in Galway, stopping off at the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and driving through the intriguing landscape of The Burren en route



Posted in Co. Clare, holiday, Ireland, memory lane, travel, weddings, wine | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Co. Clare .. part 2 : Travel Reminiscences

 10 day self-drive tour of Ireland : October 2009

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Having been through Bunratty Castle, hubby and I strolled through the recreation of a 19th century Folk Park … in intermittent rain.  Umbrella in one hand .. camera in the other.  My previous post is linked here .. todays post is an expansion of that one ;)

Loop Head House – typical home of small fish-farming folk of S.W coast of Co. Clare.  Thatch is roped down to protect it again the Atlantic gales

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Blacksmith’s Forge ..



Cashen Fisherman’s House .. a simple two bedroomed home of a North Kerry Salmon fisherman.  Most of the timber would have been salvaged from the sea.  The floor is of rammed clay.  Note the small door !!


Mountain Farmhouse .. a poor farmer’s house of a type found on the borders of Limerick and Kerry. There is a loft for extra sleeping space




The Weaver’s Shed ..  a wooden outbuilding for housing the loom of the weaver


I would have loved to have bought something from there, but our Rand/Euro made everything very expensive :(     Such a friendly lady (as we found everyone in Ireland to be) in the Weaver’s Shed who said that if it stopped raining by 3 o’clock the sun would shine the next day.  She was right!!   It stopped by 3 o’ clock on the dot and there was glorious sunshine the following day :)



A travelling bed inside the Shannon Farmhouse.  The farmhouse originally stood on the site of the Shannon Airport and was the first house to be reconstructed in the Folk Park.  (I don’t know why I only have the one photo of the inside) …



My favourite photograph ..

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Golden Vale Farmhouse .. home of a farmer from the rich lands in the Golden Vale of Limerick and Tipperary Counties.   ‘Farmer’s wife’  makes soda bread, scones and apple pies to be served in the tea room



P1040718We both fancied a fresh-out-of-the-oven piece of apple pie, but sadly they weren’t ready yet.  We settled for just a hot cup of coffee to warm us up ..



Stepping back in time …


P1040733P1040735P1040736 P1040737P1040742P1040741P1040740P1040739P1040743Every village has to have a pub ..






Ardcroney Church was moved stone by stone from Ardcroney to the Folk Park





North Clare Farmhouse .. building style and materials of the rocky Moher area of north County Clare


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Bunratty House .. a late Georgian dwelling, built in 1805) of the type occupied by minor gentry in the 19th century ..



Hazelbrook House .. built in 1898 was home to the Hughes Brothers who started a dairy industry in the 1800’s and later produced HB Ice Cream, which became a household name in ice cream in Ireland ..


P1040768Vertical Mill ..   a classical example of a rural undershot watermill ..



Horizontal Mill .. a working corn mill based on findings of an excavation in Mashanaglas, Co. Cork



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Haystacks on saddle stones ..


Customary tourist shop at the exit .. we bought Irish whistles for the grandchildren from here.  Would have loved to have bought a Bodhran too  .. and should have bought some jam and/or marmalade ;)


P1040786We then went further down the road to the Bunratty Winery to have a look ..

Posted in animals, bridges, church, Co. Clare, countryside, dogs, holiday, Ireland, memory lane, rain, travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments