Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Ireland Trip - 9 Sep 08 - Part III

September 9th was sure a busy and full day. It was quite a lot of fun, though. This post finishes off the day's activities. I don't have nearly as many photos to process for the last two days of the Ireland trip, so maybe I can finish off the posting before Christmas.

Next stop was Caherconnell - a stone ring fort that was the biggest we saw on this trip.

Thousands of years after it was abandoned the center is pretty much filled in. The walls were much, much higher when the fort was in use.

There were a lot of markers placed around the fort to coincide with an information sheet available for purchase.

There's a wall that divides the interior space. There were probably huts and corrals within the fort.

The ring fort was pretty large and probably supported several families.

The walls are still pretty much intact, but several areas have shifted or fallen.

Nature also reclaims areas around the fort.

This on the outside of the fort. The wall has been excavated a bit more on this side and you can get a sense of how tall the walls must have been.

A rock garden of sorts.

There's another small ring that is under excavation just outside the large stone fort.

Maybe I'll have a chance to return some day to see what they've discovered here.

The tent covered a bunch of gear.

Another view of the wall from outside.

The surrounding area.

Part of the collapsed wall,

another viewpoint.

Back to the entry area.

This interesting machine was next to the visitor's center. We warmed up in the restaurant at the visitor center - nice food, hot coffee, and a clean restroom. That was a nice break before heading back out into the rain.

Our next stop was the portal tomb at Poulnaborne.

It was raining really hard by this time and it was challenging to get a picture without rain spots on the lens.

It's a very impressive site. The rain kept the tour bus numbers down a bit, but we certainly had to dodge the big tour groups whilst here

The tomb is probably bout 7 feet tall. That top slab must be about 10 feet across. You can't get very close to it because it's roped off from tourists.

The rain clouds sure gave it a dramatic backdrop.

Burren limestone at the site.

Terraces of limestone.

It's such a cool formation.

A group of tourists unloaded from a bus.

One of many tour buses. I'm so glad I rented a car. I would hate to see Ireland in this fashion.

Last stop of the day was at Aillwee Cave, which also has a birds of prey center. We arrived just as a flight show was underway. They featured a short-eared owl and a Harris Hawk.

It was quite a treat to see it fly.

The trainer had a bag full of raw meat tidbits to offer the birds as they performed.

Next up was a Harris Hawk they named Jack. He was quite an active bird and seemed really happy to go for the tidbits as a reward.

He was also pretty vocal the whole time he was in the flight ring.

What a beauty!

The trainer asked for a volunteer, so I jumped right in to catch Jack. He was so incredibly light and I got quite a kick out of catching him and holding him.

Michael aslo had a chance to be part of the show.

Yep, what a treat!

There was a big aviary with owls and raptors from the UK at the site.

Short-eared owl.


I'm not sure what this is - it reminds me of a peregrine, but not quite the same as ours.

Snowy owl

Magellan Owl

Long-eared owl

Great grey owl

Finally - Aillwee cave. It's a tourist site, to be sure. You have to pay for a tour and can't go in without the tour guide and a bunch of other people.

There were a lot of interesting formations to see, but not nearly as well developed as some of the caves I've seen in the USA.

The lighting is pretty subdued and they only turn the lights on for a short while as the tour group enters an area. It makes for some challenging photos.

Water is the defining factor for the beautiful formations in the cave.

Every once-in-awhile you get a brief glimpse of fossils in the rock.

Straws from water drips.

Stalactites. . .

stalagmites, and . . .

columns. It was worth seeing. I would have liked to have had more time to look carefully, though, and without a bunch of people, some of whom had never been in a cave before. When the lights were shut off, there were a few people who were too vocal for my tastes.

Well, at any rate, we sure saw a lot of interesting things on Sept 9th - touring the Burren of county Clare.

This is the sunset from our hotel near Doolin (Aran View Hotel - a nice place, but they play the same CD over and over and over until you call the front desk and ask them to shut it off).

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