(March 22, 2008) West Coast tour
As we must be at 10 AM in Galway train station to
be picked up by Healy tours for our tour around the area known as The
Burren, we will take a train at Heuston train station in Dublin at 7
AM. That makes us wake up very early to arrive on time to take this
When the tour finishes we will be delivered at
train station before 18:00 for our return trip to Dublin.
The spots marked at map are:
B- Dunguaire Castle
C- Ailwee Caves
D- Poulnabrone Dolmen
E- Lemenagh Castle
F- Cliffs of Moher
G- Black Head Lighthouse
We must wake up that early as per going out from
hotel at 6 AM. It’s still dark night and we can feel colder than here
while waiting for the bus. We take 67A (1.70€) which leaves us at
Heuston train station few minutes after 6:30 AM. Train time is 7:10, so
we just need to identify everything inside the station for finding
where to go for our tickets. It’s at left, where some machines can
deliver our booked tickets after using credit card for paying the
31.50€ per person. So, Heuston, we haven’t got any problem (I’m sure
you thought the same joke).
We get how this machine works in a few minutes
and, on despite the panel is showing our train is the one in the far
right platform, we ask to the first person wearing uniform we can see
for a confirmation in order of preventing ending on the other side of
the country, which, better thought, is actually where we’re going.
We choose an empty coach for getting it full with
us and, immediately, get to sleep. When I open my eyes is already
completely light and we can see through the windows an infinite green
flat land, with no even a minimum hill, with cattle every when and then.
The 2 hours and 45 minutes of the trip goes
lightly and train arrives to Galway a few minutes before 10 AM., as
expected. Somehow, when we’re out find out nobody is waiting for us. We
wait for ten minutes before I start to get nervous and I go to the
square I can see from the station entrance to check if there is
somebody there. On these minutes I’m grateful of not having paid in
advance, which is always a guarantee. It’s at 10:15 when a Healy Tours
van with only the driver inside appears for starting our tourist
The driver tells us we will join the group later
but, in the meantime, we have him and the van all for us. He tells us
we’re going directly to Ailwee caves now. Before leaving, he has taken
the 16€ per person of the tour and gives us a receipt in return.
On our way, the driver, who is doing the guide
role too, keeps commenting and explaining things about the region with
a plenty of jokes in between. Some of the historical anecdotes have a
so forced joke on it that I cannot avoid wonder if they’re all fake.
The purpose of those is not learning, though, but entertaining, and
there is where they do their job.
We arrive to the caves entrance, in the middle of
a charming place, after one hour in van. On the last part of the trip
the sea appeared. On land side, all are vast grasslands limited with
small walls made with the peculiar stones of this area. The entrance to
Ailwee caves itself is made with these stones too, where we can find a
hall with a souvenirs store. Then, some stairs take us to the darkness
of these caves.
There are some stalactites and stalagmites, but
just a few and really small and lonely. The most beautiful here could
be the water falling on sides. These are just small volume of flow
falls. These caves can be a highlight in this country, where there are
no mountains, but they’re not a big deal compared what we’re used to
see in Spain.
When we’re looking the souvenirs available in the
store, the women came in to take us out to see how it is snowing. That
seems strange as it was a good weather when we came in, but now is even
better because, when we’re out, we can see a good sunnier day. For a
moment, we think they were kidding with us in a way we cannot
understand, but when checking their truly amazed faces and hearing
their “I swear, it was snowing” we think we meet the famous “All season
in one” weather, so typical in Ireland, which means they live the four
seasons every day. So, at least, the winter is done for today.
We’ve spent 45 minutes in the caves and the next
spot is Poulnabrone Dolmen, which is at 30 minutes from here. Somehow,
we’re surprised by another stop in the middle, when we’re going across
Ballyvaugham town, to see its church and joining the main group as we
were told before.
The old stone, mouldy and blue, is the main
characteristic of this church which interior seems as being improved a
lot of times. The area around the church is beautiful too, with statues
and crosses and that feeling we get sometimes about how different is
something we’re really familiar with, as a stone church, in this case.
Now we’re reaching the dolmen indeed after 20
minutes through the peculiar landscape of The Barren, with this
specific mix between grass and grey stone. We cannot see it when
leaving the bus as we must walk a little bit until it.
I hope it is really prehistoric to avoid feeling
as an idiot. These are three flat stones forming three sides of a
square; the fourth one is the ground. That’s it. It is not especially
big and it seems something you could do in your home easily. Well…
every time we’re closer of our main target, which we’ve just confirmed
it is going to be our next stop: The Cliffs of Moher.
before, we’re being driven through The Barren area and we can see what
is called Lemenagh Castle, although it seems a neglected house better.
We get the Cliffs quite late, as we’re beyond 1:30
PM and we’re given only 20 minutes for visiting them as we cannot miss
the lunch. It’s so few time for our more expected visit. We’re
delivered what seems to be a one euro entrance ticket.
We’re crazy about reaching the edge, where the
land seems to suddenly end, and look over it to the sea. When we reach
the spot we get shocked for a while. The height of these walls which
seem pretending to contain the whole sea, is spectacular and, as you’re
so high too, the view to the horizon covers such part of planet surface
that you can see this fantastic clear blue sea curved.
Obviously you’re not allowed to reach the very
edge of the cliff and some walls are there as obstacle. We walk along
the path in close to the edge amazed by the rough way this fine
grassland ends. It is really the immensity of this landscape what
astonishes you and what makes impossible taking a fair picture of it
We go to the Visitors centre for the last
minutes to get some souvenirs and go back to the bus to go to lunch.
We’re taken to Doolin for this and we’re delivered
in front of Fitzpatrick’s bar and all the group go in there, but here
are more restaurants here and we can lunch wherever we want, so we
drive our steps to Cullinan’s restaurant, just in front of the bar,
with the only reason of doing different than the rest. We find it
closed, so we come back to Fitzpatrick’s where we lunch some dishes by
We end before being picked up again, so we spend
the time making pictures of these piles of signs we could see around
here, as we have one just in front of the bar.
It’s 3 PM when we’re back to the bus for the last
part of this tour around The Burren but we don’t stop until 45 minutes
later, when we can go out to this area, where the typical grey rocks of
this place seem to break against the sea waves. This part has its
special charm and we enjoy our walk around it. I don’t know if this
spot corresponds to the one labelled as “Black Head lighthouse” because
I don’t know where we are, but I can say there is no trace of a
We’re returning to Galway as this is almost over.
We can feel it and the clock is saying it too, some how, we still do a
last stop, 45 minutes later, on Dunguaire Castle. As all brochures I
could see set this castle as first visit of the tour I thought we
missed it. But we’re given some time to explore the area as it seems we
cannot go into the castle. The lake adds some beauty to the place and
let the swans to come.
We’re saying goodbye to all this area as we’re taken
definitively back to Galway. The tour is over and the feeling about it
is you cannot get more for less. We’re delivered the first ones at
train station a half of an hour before the time of the 6:05 PM train we
must take and we’re surprised to see a row of people waiting for it.
When it arrives, as the train is long enough, we can enjoy a coach just
for us again and we make the almost three hours of this trip more
enjoyable by doing trips to the bar for bringing some Guiness cans
every time. When we’re back in Dublin we’ve got time enough as per our
investigation about what is the object these cans bring inside by
breaking one of them: a ball. It seems this ball has the purpose of
assuring froth all the time by its moving inside.
We arrive at hotel at 10 PM to get some dinner there and we decide to
go out for a while after it and go to Temple bar area as yesterday’s
rule is over. We’re not allowed to go into Temple bar itself, the bar
giving name to all the neighbourhood, and we end in a big pub in front
of it, occupying all the floors of the building, and which terrace at
the top floor, is allowed to smoke as it is open air. Our look contrast
with the locals’. Just one sample: a young woman in a short shoulder
strap dress asks me for fire and I use clumsily my lighter because I
keep wearing gloves, as well as scarf and woolly hat.