Tuesday, August 9, 2022
After an excellent breakfast at the B&B, we boarded the bus for another day of beauty. Our first stop was at Dunguaire Castle in Kinvarra, south of Galway city. The castle was built on Galway Bay, in 1520 by the O’Hynes family. The name of the castle derives from the Dun (medieval fort) of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. Richard Martyn, Mayor of Galway lived here in the 1600’s, and his family continued to live here until it was sold in to Oliver St. John Gogarty in 1924. Gogarty repaired the castle and used for literary meetings with writers like W.B Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Edward Martin. The castle was acquired by Christabel Kady Ampthill who completed the restoration started in 1924. It was later transferred to Shannon Heritage. Tours of the interior are available, but we only had time for a few photos.
According to legend, if you walk around the castle counter-clockwise three times, you will become a virgin again. At least that was a line that King Guaire was supposed to have used. I wonder how well it worked for him. I did walk around the castle, but only once, and in a clockwise direction, no no benefit accrued to me, alas.
There is actually a more interesting story about virginity and a former owner. The Russell Case tells an intriguing story. Lady Christabel Ampthill was married to John Hugo Russell, heir to Ampthill, when she gave birth to a son, Geoffrey. Russell claimed the child could not be his, he must be the son of one of the many men she dined and danced with regularly. He said the marriage had never been consummated; he had made attempts but never completed the deed. She claimed she had never slept with any other man. When her doctors confirmed her pregnancy, they also stated that she was still intact, thus a virgin. After several court cases, her son, Geoffrey was declared the legitimate son of John, thus heir to the title. He held that title from 1973 – 2011, when he died. I can’t help but wonder, did Lady Ampthill visit Dunguaire after getting pregnant, and walk three times counterclockwise around it?
Then on to the Burren, part of the Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. The name comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place. It is indeed rocky. A few plants are able to take root in this landscape, creating a contrast to the gray limestone that juts into the bay.
After an ice cream break in Doolin, where Cash warned us not to look into the owner’s eyes or we’d fall in love (he was a nice looking young man), we continued on to the Cliffs of Moher. We had opted for a boat ride below the cliffs. This wasn’t a leisurely ride, we sped past the towering cliffs (up to 700 feet in height), with passengers crowding the open areas to get their photos. The approximately 10 mile ride took us out to Hag’s Head, with a sea arch under a signal tower. The cliffs are definitely impressive from this vantage point.
While we were on the boat, Cash, our driver, took a chilly swim off the coast.
After the boat ride, we had time to walk along a short part of the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, which runs about 11 miles from Doolin to Hag’s Head. The Cliffs have featured in a few movies, like “The Princess Bride” (a personal favorite) and “The Half-Blood Prince” of the Harry Potter series, as well as several music videos. The cliffs formed between 313 and 326 million years ago, from sediment dumped by an ancient river. The sediments were compacted to form the strata we can see in the cliffs. Years of erosion have created the stunning land forms, such as sea caves, sea stacks, and the sea arch seen at Hag’s Head.
O’Brien’s Tower provides views all around through windows at the top.
More time on the bus, then a short ride on the Shannon Ferry, and finally, after about 140 miles of road today, we arrived at our Bed & Breakfast in Annascaul, on the Dingle Peninsula. Dinner was served at the Randy Leprechaun next door. The Randy Leprechaun is owned by Paddywagon Tours, and it aims to give its patrons a genuine pub and craic experience. I didn’t stay for the live music and craic after dinner, but Sean did. He said it was hilarious, watching middle-aged women doing some sort of boat rowing dance. Sorry I missed it (she said sarcastically.)