So, we stayed at Flannery's Hotel, which I was very disappointed to find was actually a Best Western in disguise. Still, the place was clean and the people friendly, even if the shower pressure kept going all flooey. We headed out early, as per usual. When I started researching this area, I kept stumbling across The Burren Perfumery as a must-visit location, though out of the way. Since the Burren was on my list anyway, I figured why not? We headed out on the tiniest roads you've ever seen - too narrow for one car, much less two - and into the weird and flat rocky landscape just south of Galway. It's desolate out there, almost desert in places, and my first thought was that I wouldn't want to get a flat. However, the perfumery, once we found it, was charming - an herb garden in the back and a still room. They make all of their soaps and creams and perfumes from the plants they find on the Burren, which is what makes it unique - and now they have a website, which is great. There was a ten-minute film presentation on the plants of the region, and then we browsed around. I walked out with some soaps, a handful of samples, and some Burren beeswax lip balm that is quite awesome.
Next on the list was the Cliffs, but since we had to meander off the Burren anyway, we figured we'd stop and see a few more things. First, a stop at Poulnabrone Dolmen, an ancient portal tomb made from large slabs of rock, out in the middle of the Burren plain - huge and impressive. Next, I wanted to track down the cemetery with the ancient high crosses in Kilfenora. However, there we were thwarted - as we're discovering while we wander around, all of the old graveyards have ancient grave, but the newer members of the family as well. Almost everything in Kilfenora was closed because of a funeral, and we arrived in the graveyard just as the procession was starting. It didn't seem respectful to stay and take pictures, so we headed out - I have a picture of the information sign!!! Maybe next time.
Next up were the Cliffs of Moher. There really are no words. Find a picture, blow it up as big as you can make it, and hold your nose up to the screen. It's just ridiculous - there's the ocean, the sky, and six-hundred fifty feet worth of rock and sea birds.
After we'd had our fill of cliff pictures, we started the drive south toward Killarney, stopping at Bunratty Castle along the way. Bunratty is billed as one of Ireland's main tourist attractions, partially because of the medieval folk park attached to the grounds - it's a little like a Renn faire and a little like Disneyland. However, the castle is impressive. Apparently it was in ruins for quite some time, and then the new owners bought it a few decades back and refurbished it. As a result, there's a mixture of new and old. The four turrets are TINY and winding and scary, but I bravely climbed to the top. The south solar is worth the climb - gorgeous ceiling.
Exhausted from tons of driving and death-defying stair climbing and such, we headed to Killarney, which is a charming little town - very touristy, but they take very good care of it. Dinner at a crowded, no-frills restaurant, and then everyone was too tired to stop to listen to music, although I did hear a fiddler in a hotel bar as we passed.
Tomorrow, on to Blarney!