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The Burren, Ballyalben, and the Cliffs of Moher

Our first full day out in the field was a great success.  Students were on time for our 9:30 am departure, and we kept to our schedule all day. Most importantly, the weather was glorious.  As good as it gets in Ireland.  Temps in the 70’s, blue skies, sunshine, and cool breezes.  Some light sunburns resulted, but everyone enjoyed the day, nevertheless.

We drove out to Country Clare, to a rocky landscape called the Burren.

Our first stop was the Ballyalban ring fort, also called a fairy fort. It’s not a well-marked or well-known destination, but it’s a special place with magical and historical significance.  Most years we enter the fort via this simple stile.

former stile from 2012

This year, the stile was gone, and we were a little alarmed to encounter this sign.

Fort closed sign

But with all due respect to the OPW, we felt the need to also pay our respects to the fairies and to the pre-historic Irish who built this ring fort some 5000 years ago.  Treading lightly, we took the long way around and in, through a field and some thorns, and had our lesson about raths, enjoying the sunlight filtered through massive birch trees, and the views out across fields to the Burren hills.

Class in the Fairy Fort

Declan greeting the fairies

view of hills from ballyalban

Then on to the Poulnobrone Dolmen, older than the Egyptian pyramids, and the oldest man-made structure in Ireland.  The limestone surface was our second classroom of the day.

class on the burren

Mike teaching at Poulobrone

our group at the dolmen

After a stop in the little village of Doolin for lunch, we headed to the Cliffs of Moher, for refreshing walks along the cliffs and more fresh air and sunshine.

View from the cliffs

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