Moon landscape and castles
General Ludlow said of the Burren landscape: „There is not a single tree on which to hang a man, there is not enough water to drown him, nor enough clay to bury him.“ County Clare, south of Galway towards the well-known Cliff of Moher. This area covers a relatively large area and only a small part falls under the National Park, yet in the vicinity you will find several attractions that are worth a visit.
On the way to the Burren area, we drive south from Galway to County Clare. After about half an hour's drive, Dunguaire Castle in Kinnvara is a short stop right on the route. The 16th-century castle is in a well-preserved condition and offers a short tour with an entrance.
Furthermore, our path turns more inland, where the stone mountains so typical of this area of the Burren begin. We drive through a rolling landscape along the rising mountains, at the foot of which sits pastures full of cattle.
Following the serpentines, which are generally a rarity in the Irish flat landscape of pastures, we drive to the top of the plain, from where we have a view of a distant landscape full of low hazelnut trees, to which the area is very fertile. The nuts are wild and so do not grow to the size of trees. The groves have been here for thousands of years and the first inhabitants who settled here used them extensively as a source of livelihood. Today, you will find several chocolate factories that add nuts to chocolates.
Probably the biggest highlight on our journey through the Burren is the Poulnabrone dolmen, a gantry tomb – one of about 172 in Ireland. Its age is estimated at the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. It is located on the R480 about 8 km south of Ballyvaughan. The tomb was used both for the burial of important people and for ritual ceremonies.
The landscape around the tomb is similar to the lunar landscape created here a thousand years ago by a glacier that cracked a rock into individual stone slabs.
The ruins of Leamanagh Castle
One of the attractions to stop along the R480 is the ruins of Leamanagh Castle. You will find it at the very beginning of the road from south back to north towards Galway. Access to the building is not possible for security reasons, but it still provides insight into times long past.
There are also several picturesque lakes, such as those created for fishing or boating. We also enjoyed a beautifully colored sunset at Lake Inchiquin.
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