Yesterday (February 2nd), I had a late start. And a bit of a hangover from being up so late to watch the Super Bowl via Skype with the family. I had a cup of tea with Steph and Rob, and we talked about what I was going to do in the afternoon. They both recommended I go to the Burren, a National Park very close, and so off I went.
I made a stop at Coole Park, which was the estate of Lady Gregory and her husband. This little guy jumped up right in my car to get a scrap of food.
Frequent visitors to Coole Park were W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Jack B. Yeats, and the list goes on and on. There is an autograph tree in the walled gardens, where they all carved their initials. A beautiful, peaceful park, it is now maintained by the Irish State. I could feel the inspiration as I walked around the grounds, through the woods and over to the lake.
I left Coole Park, went down the road and found Thoor Ballylee, Yeats' castle home. It is not open for viewing, but, I wandered around and took photos and got a feel for the place. And I had the place all to myself. The great thing about this time of year is there is no one anywhere, except for the big sites like the Cliffs of Moher. The downside is everything is closed, as far as many of the smaller visitor centers and shops. There is a lot of information online about these places, and I need to do more research (www.ladygregoryyeatstrail.com). It is so fascinating to trod in the trails the feet of these great authors have walked.
After I left Thor Ballylee, I continued on to the Burren via Kinvarra. Steph told me to take the road through the heart of the Burren, and so I did. I found a castle or two, and ended up at the most delightful chocolatier, the Burren Chocolatier (http://www.hazelmountainchocolates.com). Turns out one of the chocolatiers is from the States, and used to live in Corvallis. Small world. I chatted with Dara, he was in making chocolates, and another random lady from Dublin who died over their hot chocolate. I didn't end up having any hot chocolate, but I did take a slice of strawberry sponge cake home with me for later, and some chocolate bars.
I made for the Burren Perfumery next. It's another kind of out-of-the-way place. I got there and they were open, but just for a few more minutes. I bought a few items and talked with the shopkeeper there, and then headed out again. I am delighted because I can order items online from them (http://www.burrenperfumery.com). By this time it was getting dark. I didn't want to be stuck out on some road in the middle of the Burren too long after the sun set.
I made my way back home via Ennis. Lately all roads seem to lead to there or from there. On my way back, though it was well past sunset, I stopped at the Dysert O'Dea castle. It's pretty cool and a little scary to be walking through a country lane in the near dark to a deserted castle. But, walk I did. Of course I could not get in, but, did manage to get some photos. Apparently there is an archaeological trail you can walk around this castle and see a bunch of different monuments. That will have to be another time. Too much to do and see all in one shot.
The Burren is beautiful. Just when I think I can't see another different kind of landscape, Ireland gives me something new to look at. Incredible. I am never disappointed.
Yesterday was another wonderful day here. And now, I'm on my last day. I woke up with snow this morning, so decided to wait a few hours to go out anywhere. I'm going into Ennis to do a last bit of shopping, and then driving up to Moran's Oyster Cottage for lunch. And then it's time for packing and away I go back to the States tomorrow.