On September 5th, a group of approximately 30 RTAI Cork members arrived in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare at lunchtime. Having checked in to our accommodation at the Hylands Hotel, we were ready to head out for our first walk. A short drive took us to Fanore Beach, where we assembled, and after the “Rolla” we set out. After a short walk on road and path we followed our guide Marty Holland, into the Caher Valley. Interestingly, the Caher is the only river in the Burren that runs entirely above ground.
Leaving Cert Geography was brought to mind, as we remembered terminology we hadn’t heard in oh, so many years! The clints and grikes were scattered with erratics! We recalled transhumance, on hearing that cattle are wintered in the Burren to get the benefit of the limestone grazing. Later on we saw plenty of fossils of coral, too.
We almost escaped the rain! Fortunately for us, we were beside an old ruin when the heavens opened, so we could huddle together for a bit of shelter! The views across to the Aran Islands left a lot to the imagination, but we could just make them out through the mist. On our final turn downhill, we had a fine view of Fanore below us.
Back in Ballyvaughan, we were glad of a hot shower. Some of us wondered if we would be able to get out of bed the following morning – but never fear, the full compliment of hikers were up bright and early to tackle Mullagh More.
On Wednesday, we drove out to Kilnaboy, passing the Poulnabrón Dolmen. From here we entered the Burren National Park, and began our steep ascent of Mullagh More. The terrain was much more demanding today, with loose stone and grikes to watch out for. There were areas near the summit that required a bit of scrambling. With the support of each other we all managed it, though. The views were wonderful. We paused occasionally to take in the vistas below us; lakes, green patches and grey, grey stone. Some sharp-eyed members of our group spotted Fr. Ted’s house in the distance.
There was a palpable sense of achievement as we approached the final kilometre. Some hardy souls considered that a swim in the sea would be a fitting way to celebrate! With time to spare before dinner, some people went to visit the nearby Caherconnell Fort, others to the Dolmen, others enjoyed some retail therapy.
The Flaggy Shore
On the third morning, a leisurely walk was planned along a stretch of coast known locally as the Flaggy Shore. Seamus Heaney’s poem Postscript is all you need to read if you want to know more about this beautiful place.
Marty Holland (retired lecturer MICE) was our guide for the two days hiking in the Burren. He has indepth knowledge of the area as he walks there frequently. Marty has walked the coast of Ireland in an effort to raise funds for cancer research. You can read more about that amazing journey here.
Mary Cahill was the organiser of the entire Burren Experience. Hotel, meals, guide, walks and detailed advance information were all co-ordinated efficiently and without fuss. Go raibh míle maith agat, a Mháire.
Clare Shelley supported Mary in the advance preparations, and didn’t forget the whistle! Maith thú, a Chláir.
Go raibh maith agaibh, Pádraig Keating agus Helen Kiely as na griangrafanna a sheoladh isteach.