A Week In Central West Ireland (2/7)


These pictures come from our visit to the Irish Midlands and County Clare coast in April 2011.






Birr Castle gardens were elaborately laid out. This is Mark in front of some beautiful purple shrubs. We spent about three hours exploring the science museum, telescope, gardens and arboretum









After Birr Castle, we drove on to the Boora peatlands and its sculpture park. I could not resist posing as Penelope Pitstop - which I suppose makes Mark Dick Dastardly (or Muttley).









Here comes the train!










Still in Boora peatlands sculpture park, this seems to be a cross between the Loch Ness monster and a fallen bullrush. It was a lovely evening's walk.










I have escaped from the rails and become the train driver. Peat was the most common fuel used across Ireland and still is used in homes, and until recently in electricity generation. Such small trains were used to transport the peat to the main rail junction.










We spent the night in Portumna, a small town just inside Co. Galway on the banks of Lough Derg, so we were ideally placed to cross into Co. Clare and reach the coast of the Burren. In the morning, we visited the ruined Kilmacduagh churches and its iconic 35-meter round tower. We saw blue tits and great tits nesting in the stonework of some of the churches, with jackdaws established in the round tower.










Here are the Cliffs of Moher facing the Atlantic. We saw kittiwakes, rock pipits, choughs, crows and wheatears. It's a very popular tourist attraction but, because of the worn cliff paths, many don't venture far from the visitor centre. One more intrepid couple from Russia had their photo taken by Mark.







We did a roughly six-mile walk along the Cliffs of Moher out to the distant tower, visible here, and then back via a more inland route.




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