Vagabond Wild Irish Rover Day 2 Clifden to Spanish Point

Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

Oct. 18, 2021 Monday

We're up early in our castle room. The hotel was very noisy last night some party for a birthday or retirement, lots of door banging but we finally got some sleep. 

We fuel ourselves with a hearty Irish Breakfast.

We have to meet our fellow travelers at 8:50 so I have some time to explore the grounds a bit. We arrived after 6 p.m. on Sunday and it was too dark to check out the property at that time so I thought I might see what I could see this morning. Unfortunately it was raining heavily and very windy.

I wish we had more time to explore but we have to load up and make our way to our first stop, Aughnanure Castle.
From the castle's website:
The fearsome O’Flaherty family, whose motto was ‘Fortune favours the strong’, ruled west Connacht for 300 years from this fine six-storey tower on the shores of Lough Corrib.

In 1546 the O'Flahertys joined forces with the Mayo O'Malleys when Donal an Chogaidh O’Flaherty married Grace O'Malley, later known as Granuaile, the formidable pirate queen. The O’Malley motto, ‘Powerful by land and by sea,’ showed the awe in which that family, too, was held.

The windows in the Great Hall have some beautiful cravings. The guide said these would have been most impressive to castle visitors. Most people during this time period would not know what a grapevine looked like. These cravings showed that the O’Flaherty family was wealthy and made lots of trades with nearby countries.

It's still raining but there are some breaks in the clouds as we head back to Galway and on to our next photo op stop in the town of Kinvara.

Dunguaire Castle which was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan sits on a rocky outcrop on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. 

We stop in town for some lunch at Keogh's Pub (I ordered a wood fired pizza and ate the whole thing!) then it's off to visit a Neolithic portal. 

Poulnabrone Portal Tomb is our next destination.

We've traveled from County Galway into a region know as The Burren in County Clare. Poulnabrone is a portal tomb and the oldest dated megalithic monument in the land. 

The name means "Hole of the Quern Stones", but the site is also commonly referred to as "Hole of the Sorrows".

It dates back to c. 4200 BCE and stands 5.9 feet high (1.8 meters) and 12 feet (3.6 meters) long in a field surrounded by the karst stone formations which make up the Burren.

It is defined as a dolmen: a single-chamber, megalithic tomb distinguished by a capstone resting on upright stones. 

Bébhinn explains to us the tombs significance and some of the items found during a earlier excavation of the site.

It is the best known and most often photographed of the almost 200 dolmens in Ireland because of its near perfect symmetry. Excavations at the site in the 1980's CE uncovered human remains and grave goods, establishing the site as an ancient tomb, but it may have served other purposes as well. Dr. Carleton Jones, who worked at the site, suggests it may have been an "ancient billboard" as well as a tomb marking the territory of the tribe of the Burren.

No rest for the wicked, we're back in the van on to our next hike.

On our next adventure we will be taking the coastal hiking route to see the Cliff of Moher. Jay and I have visited the cliffs two times in previous Ireland visits but we always arrived at the visitor's center by bus. This time we'll be hiking from Hag's Head to the visitor's center, about a 3.5 mile journey along the Atlantic Coastline.

Our journey starts will a hello from one of the locals.

Bébhinn explains the route we'll be taking. Hag's Head to the Visitor's Center. She also tells us to stay on the trail and not to venture to close to the cliff edge.

We start out and look back, ah so this is Hag's Head.

About halfway along the trail, the sun peaks out and we can see the famous cliffs ahead of us.

The hike along the cliffs was in fact, about 3.5 miles long and took us about one hour. 

What a great opportunity to be able to see the cliffs from this vantage point. The group has a little time to walk around the visitor's center but soon we're back on the road heading to Spanish Point.

We'll be staying at the Spanish Point Guest House.

Jay and I have room #3. It's gorgeous. The bed and pillows are so comfy. (It's was like sleeping on clouds.)

The view from our room was pretty cool too.

The people at Spanish Point Guesthouse are so nice and very welcoming. They even left us all thank you notes and a boxes of chocolates in our rooms.

We quickly settle in then head to the Bellbridge Hotel for a group dinner (except for the woman from Chicago-she stayed back at the Spanish Point Guesthouse).

The food was quite good and very filling. 
The hotel was decorated for Halloween.

To help us digest some, we walk back from the restaurant along the edge of the Atlantic. The sounds of the waves crashing on shore are so soothing and the salt air very refreshing.

We are all ready for a good night's sleep.

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Next up: Spanish Point to Dingle by way of: Kilkee, the Shannon Ferry in Killmer, lunch in Tralee, a sheep farm, a walk in Annascaul, a pub stop at the South Pole Inn then on to the Dingle Skellig Hotel.